Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Juniors hockey team - "Perception & Reality"

After the disastrous outing at the Asian Junior hockey tournament at Hyderabad last year, the National Junior coach had to make way for his assistant to take over the team. The new coach was fairly successful in the domestic competition with TNB and Kuala Lumpur. This probably gave him the opportunity to handle the Juniors.

His first outing with the Juniors was the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL). Even before the league could commence, he loss some of the players to the various clubs. Still he was brave enough to participate. Some may wonder whether it was "dutch courage" or plain "madness".

With a depleted team, there was nothing much to talk about the Juniors. However what was troubling was the young team could not match the efforts of the "older" teams such as Maybank and Sapura. Other than providing some form of exposure to the players, I do not believe the Juniors achieved anything concrete. I state this because the issue of "fitness" still was a perennial problem and apparently continued to do so on the Australian tour.

In preparation for the Junior World Cup in June 2009, there were certain administrative changes made. The former national coach i.e the German became the Coordinator, the coach and the assistant remained the same. The new team manager is a Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association Vice President and the attachment coach is from TNB. The selection was made by the Team Management Committee (TMC), obviously without carefully thinking.

Why a coordinator? The answer was actually provided by the players and that is , the coordinator is actually coaching the boys. Therefore the national junior coach seem to be only in name and for public consumption. Apparently this sort of style has been happening in the past but the German coach was usually a consultant. The term consultant does not provide an effective role and that is probably why the term coordinator was introduced. I am told that if you get to the training ground, the perception and reality can be easily distinguished. So why this charade? Probably the TMC can provide the answer.

When I mentioned that the TMC did not undertake their task properly, i meant that they have made a number of decisions that would put MHF in "bad light". One of it is appointing coaches who do not have any certificates. The height of craziness was also contributed by the Chairman of the Coaching Committee, when he indicated that these coaches shall be given 6 months to get their certificates. So the attachment coach with the Juniors who does not have the "papers" have to get his qualification while serving the Juniors, Interesting also that the Junior World Cup shall take place in 5 months. Poor coach, he has 2 tasks and which is he going to concentrate. When he gets his "papers", the Junior World Cup is over. Why such desperate acts of decision making? Is it "window dressing"? Maybe there are insufficient qualified coaches and that's why the desperation. Perception versus realities.

Back to the Juniors. Having participated in the MHL and then having centralised training before their departure to Australia, the Junior Coach then comes up with his excuses for the "not so good" outing. The excuses were

  • Lack of fitness

  • 10 players were benched as the tournament was Under 20

It would seem that the Junior coach can only stretch his imagination to such excuses. If so why was a fitness test not conducted by ISN before the trip? Why participate in a tournament where half your team is already grounded before the tournament?

Strangely, why was this issue not considered by the TMC. Even more confusing was NSC's lack of commitment to determine that the funds they provided for such tours can be justified. Honestly, this trip by the Juniors is a total waste of funds and both MHF and NSC must take full responsibility.

In reality. i think we are going to be disappointed with the Juniors. Peculiar, at the end of the day the coordinator would walk away freely while the poor coach and the team manager may get the "sticks". This is the price one pays for allowing such perception to exist.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 - Another new blog for hockey.

Early last year, there were letters circulated under the name of "cintahoki". Indeed if any, while i do not recognise such letters, which was widely circulated but i must record that these letters helped to catalyst the change of leadership in Malaysian hockey.

The 102 former hockey internationals and including this blog came into being after "cintahoki" made the massive incursion with the hockey fraternity. To be fair even the Affiliates also got initially involved due to "cintahoki".

Since this new blog had communicated with voice-in-sports, i felt the need to highlight the past role of "cintahoki" and whether the new blog has any relationship with that "cintahoki".

Anyway, "cintahokitoo", welcome to the blogging world and i hope as sports blogger we can contribute to positive changes to the sporting environment in Malaysia.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is the time right for President of MCA to retire graciously?

The current President of Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) came into MCA as an arrangement to replace the then incumbent Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah. Apparently that arrangement was also extended to the post of President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) which was held then by Tan Sri Hamzah.

While that was history, the point is, the people felt that the time had come that Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah had to "go". The idea was for a smooth and acceptable arrangement so as the transition of "takeover" would be much easier. Further it was also to recognise the years of service Tan Sri Hamzah had put into cricket and to ensure a level of respect was bestowed to him. Equally, it must be recognised that the current President wanted to do it the "gentleman" way i.e provide a gracious exit.

After years of service to MCA, the question is whether the current MCA President is in the same dilemma as Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah. If he does not feel it, I can probably understand. However there are already "talks" whether the President has the time for MCA. His preoccupation with OCM, International Olympic Council (IOC), International Cricket Council (ICC) and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) plus the corporate sector. creates a feeling that he does not have the time for the "smallest" of all the outfits i.e MCA.

There is no doubt that MCA is the "smallest" but it must be recognise that it paved the way for the President to hold the various posts in the sporting arena. Small yet powerful enough to provide the accessibility. Of course, one cannot take away the personality of the President that has also contributed to him holding the numerous positions. Still the "passport" for him was and is MCA.

Now that the MCA election is due in February 2009, the question of the post of President has become a talking point. This time there is a greater call for the need to find a "new face". How serious is this, is questionable. Still, if the President is challenged and even if he wins with the majority being eroded, the "writing is already on the wall". This is where the President may have to consider whether to "call it a day" with MCA.

On the other side, it is rumoured that for the President to sustain his position as President of OCM, he still has to be an official of a National Sports Association (NSA). This may force the President to want to remain in MCA, provided he wants to defend his position in OCM. Again an arrangement can be made in MCA, e.g creating constitutionally a post of "immediate Past President" as an executive post and thereby fulfilling the requirements needed to recontest in OCM. There maybe other options but the key issue, is that, it is possible.

The fundamental aspect is, what is the outlook of the President of MCA i.e does he want to or does not want to contest. My advice is to bid the farewell when the scenario is still looking good, thereby also permitting a new leadership to emerge.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A plea for Malaysian cricket.......

I received this nicely worded comment, which in many ways tantamount to a "plea". The writer without mincing his words basically is pleading for cricket lovers to put aside their differences an work to improve cricket.

An excellent call and i believe a "unity" MCA committee must come in to undertake this task. Question" How do we go about this? Only people with vision, great courage and able to see the "big picture" can come together. Are there such people? Yes ! there are many but an effective leader who has the admiration and support plus able to transcend the prevailing pettiness needs to be invited to lead MCA. Such a person must be able to hold together the MCA, so as they stay focus to what they must do and achieve.

Below is the text of the writer's comment:

"Fellow Malaysians and cricketers,

It is sad to see or read things like this on a blog. Instead of getting together to solve a problem, everyone is pointing fingers at each other and making things worst. I bet there are a few disgruntled cricket lovers, does not matter who, can be a current player, an ex player, officials current/ex and etc and the cause is because our National Cricket Team is not really performing or providing the results in almost all age groups including the senior side. In order for us to be at the top, we have to stop behaving like kids and grow up.

If you are someone capable of helping out, just help and if you are someone incapable of helping, just leave it to the people who are capable of helping. If you have a problem, why voice it out here, why not voice it out to someone in charge and make it official?

We really need to consider putting aside our differences and accept the fact that we are Malaysians and cricketers to top it all. We should be behaving like gentlemen instead of barbarians or hooligans.

Bottom line is, let the ones who are in charge of doing their work do their part and if there is a flaw in the system, do something to change it."

Would this advice be adhered by the "power brokers" involved in the coming MCA election?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Strangely, ethics & conflict of interests seem to be non-issues in MHF.

The principles underlying ethics and conflict of interests has been built over centuries, so as to permit a proper order in peoples conduct for the fulfilment of their duties. These are "time tested" and has become a common feature in progressive looking outfits where governance, accountability and transparency are fundamentals.

These principles bind people with the concept of "duty of care" in their conduct of business and this duty varies in accordance to the "standing" of the people. It is commonly accepted that the higher one is in the hierarchy, the duty imposed is greater. Similarly too if one is a professional.

This leads me to MHF's Team Management Committee (TMC), which recently deliberated and made public the appointment of coaches and managers for the various national team. The aspect of TMC not following the procedures is something MHF needs to sort out. While that is an issue, there are other issues that may call into question the whole operational conduct of MHF.

Firstly, the TMC is constituted by personalities, who by their positions create a conflict of interest. 2 of them sit in the Wawasan Committee, which is to supervise the various national teams performance. To add further problem 1 of them is also appointed as a team manger of the national age group team. The issue becomes more serious as a senior representative of NSC is also in the TMC. Why I call it serious is because NSC is the government's custodian of Malaysian sports. Complication is further added by the presences of the Director General of NSC at the MHF's Management Committee and MHF's Wawasan Committee.

Continuing on the aspect of appointment by TMC, the manager of the senior national team is also a member of the Wawasan Committee. Therefore all in all, these people who sit in TMC, responsible for the appointments, would join some of the appointees of the various national teams in the Wawasan Committee, to supervise the performance of the various national teams. There cannot be a better scenario for conflict of interest and the infringement of ethics.

To be fair to 1 or 2 of the personalities, for they have endeavoured to check their status with NSC and I believe they were given the blessing to proceed. This does not surprise me of NSC, as they are desperate to ensure hockey succeeds at all costs. At times in the zealot of performing their duties, NSC becomes "Machiavellian" i.e "the end justifies the means" and therefore conflicts or infringement of ethics are not a paramount issue. Sadly, this sets the tempo with many National Sports Associations (NSAs), where governance and accountability have become serious problems.

What I find difficult to comprehend is that there are insufficient people in MHF, whereby the same people are given a number of posts. If this is true than it is really a very gloomy scene in Malaysian hockey. I do not think so, it is more a question of proper planning and permitting people to be involved, including avoiding the perpetuation of the "clique" system.

The current dilemma of conflict and infringement of ethics can be avoided if the responsible people can choose to resign from certain posts which creates that position, thereby still being able to continue their work for MHF. In this manner we pave the way for good governance and accountability and also permit a wider participation of other people.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A call for healthy discussion on "Cricket Development"

Obviously the cricket fraternity must have a lot of opinions and the comment column for any cricketing articles seem to be heavily debated. There are number of occasions it has deteriorated to personal attacks, from intelligence, lack of understanding of cricket to quality of language. Somehow, it all points to the coming election in MCA, which i believe maybe scheduled on Valentine's Day.

I hope people would know who was St.Valentine . If they know what he did then the MCA election on Valentine's day may be a historic event for the betterment of cricket. Energy is being wasted for the wrong reasons. If and only if, i mean if all the parties can work together than there is hope for cricket. "If" is a 2 letter word that may sound near impossible in Malaysian cricket context. So, it could be just wishful thinking.

Below is a note i received from a regular to my blog. He wanted his note to be published and is probably stirring for some comments. He has picked a good topic of "Development" and it would be nice to hear what the affiliates or MCA themselves are doing. To be honest, i do not expect MCA or the affiliates to respond.

Text of the note is as follows:

"I have been following this blog for the last 6 months and being in the cricket circle for the last 43 yrs. I believe I have all the rights to say on most of the comments:

“A Pot Calling a Kettle Black”

I would love to see Gandhi discussing a topic on the Contribution from all State Association in Developing Cricket in this Country.

Lets get the comments from the people concern and be transparent.

All this while the comments were on individuals, MCA, MMCA Etc. It’s about time to find and rectify the real problems.

May be this healthy discussion will help states or council members to elect the new EXCO members"

Although the writer of the note has not formally issued a "challenge" but he wants a healthy discussion. Lets see if the affiliates or MCA has the courtesy to oblige.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Well done Beng Hai & Saiful.

In this world we have many "talkers" and very very few "doers". Smoking as a problem to athletes is a known problem and is always talked about. The sports administrators know what a massive problem there is at the sports schools and yet nothing much is being done. Indeed MHF also knew about it, mainly with the previous Junior squad and nothing was done. Surprisingly most of those Junior players are now with the senior team.

Smoking may not be the only vice. Hear say gossips indicate that late nights and alcohol consumption could be the other issues. Again I must caution readers that these are only comments that have been made and i am not fully conversant with these facts. Yet, I raised it, for the national coaches may want ISN to do the necessary tests particularly with their hair follicles. Once and for all, players must be aware of their responsibilities and conduct their lives accordingly.

So what Beng Hai and Saiful are doing with the national players on smoking and also getting the training sessions to commence at 6.00 am plus the aspect of fitness tests is highly commendable. Since these 2 national coaches themselves are setting the pace, the national players do not have much of a choice but to abide. It is early days and therefore much cannot be made out of it except these 2 coaches have made a good start. My concern is of the following:

  • Whether the players would revolt as they see the journey geting tougher.

  • If there would be interference from parties in MHF or other known areas who may believe that they want an influence on the matter.

I have no doubts Beng Hai and Saiful would strive hard to uplift the status of our national team. Their personality is such that they have the passion and commitment. Results may not come fast and easy and there would be testing times. More so, as they know they are there as interim coaches only. Still as players both Beng Hai and Saiful served the nation more than adequately and I am sure they will accept nothing less from their charges.

Their first few decisions have been good and I believe with time they would set a culture where current and future players would know what are the benchmarks to make the grade as a Malaysian national hockey player.

Well done Beng Hai and Saiful and please know that we will be watching the progress.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Beware TM ! The "spin" game against a foreign hockey coach has started.

When MHF had their Management Meeting, the TM indicated that they are finalising the appointment of the foreign coach. The TM wanted to keep it as a "water tight" information. Within 24 hours the Malay Mail broke the news and like "wild fire" the news caught on. Everyone wanted to know who the Australian was and what is his credentials.

There was confusion as to who was conducting the negotiations. When it was the Korean coach of the China national team, NSC was the main party. The presences of his former assistant in Malaysia had created a "stir" in the Korean internet press and that apparently was one of the reason why the former South Korean national coach did not want the Malaysian appointment. The confusion seem also to continue with the latest candidate i.e the chief coach of the Western Australian Sports Institute. Some say it is NSC, while others believe it is a MHF Vice President, who is responsible for the Medical Committee.

Strange things are taking place in MHF. Things are becoming mysterious i.e the appointment of coaches and managers and now a person who has nothing to do with the portfolio, seemingly having his fingers on the appointment of the foreign coach. Shocking, as the Chairman of Coaching Committee seems to be totally in wilderness, as he does not know what to do. The Vice President for Special Projects, a lawyer by profession, is not even called to assist. So, what is really going on in MHF.

The Team Management Committee's (TMC) lack of in-depth work, the total disregard for policies and procedures plus its lack of understanding of ethics and conflict of interest has set MHF to the road of unprofessional culture. What makes matters even more startling is National Sports Council (NSC) participation and endorsement of the TMC's diabolical process and decisions. I wonder if they know who is the "judge and jury". Such is the extent of inter-mixing by NSC in MHF's functions that the day to day role of MHF seem to be under the control of NSC. Just check out "Who is Who" in NSC, being involved in MHF. Indeed it is suggested that MHF should move into the NSC's main block.

Coming back to the issue of the foreign coach, it is rumoured that there is a group that is influencing NSC and certain key MHF officials to fore go a foreign coach and leave it to the newly appointed 2 local coaches. There is a certain section who is encouraging the appointment of a supervisory local coach to oversee these local coaches. The group also feels the presences of the German Coordinator with the Juniors and that of the Korean fitness coach, can assist in the technical areas. It would seem that if these configuration is adopted, it would appease a number of groups. It is not about the betterment of Malaysian hockey, rather the "tolong kawan" syndrome.

The "spinning" has started and a case would be made for the above idea. The TM has to be careful as the parties would be giving a number of excuses and reasons why Malaysia cannot get a good foreign coach. The marketing and hard selling has started for certain group(s) to achieve their own plans. The last 2 years was bad enough and it would seem that a different set of people are planning the same thing for the coming 2 years, not realising that it may make it even worse. Good luck Malaysian hockey.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What is happening to Malaysian cricket team?

I received the note below and i was requested to put it as an article. I do mot know the motive but i am interested in knowing the answers. Obviously, something may or may not be going on and that itself seem to have stirred someone. Whichever way it would be good to see the response to this short note.

The text is as follows with some editing

"What is happening to the Malaysian National Cricket Team? No news at all. We heard that there is a Division 6 World League on the way ... are they having training sessions... do they have proper coach..

What you guys think!!!!

Are they(MCA) waiting for the election to be over...

Later, there will be a last minute preparation... end of the day who will be screwed... hahaha players right...Keep it up MCA.. you all doing a great job....

Another 2 months there will not be any league..

Only Nava Sheild at moment, where national players cannot participate... very good... where are these guys going to play... Singapore is it? If they play there... PPL commenting no patriotism... good good...

Everybody says that players need to pull up their socks...How to pull.. when there are a few pulling it down...

What to Say!!!! "

Is this a start to a "season" of election built -up?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Well done TM for the decisive actions.

Apparently the MHF Management Committee met this week and the the news filtering across seem to reflect the mood of the TM at the meeting. Three areas he seems to have modified are the actions of certain people in MHF:

  1. Four Nation tournament at Johor Baru - Initially the Deputy President announced that this tournament would not be held due to the high expense of organising it. This is notwithstanding the fact that the pitches there are new and is meant for the June 2009 Junior World Cup. Conventional wisdom dictates that new grounds are usually "tested" with some form of tournament to act as a "dress rehearsal" for the major event. Therefore the original decision not to go ahead seem to reflect a narrow thinking mode of certain people in MHF. Indeed, most of the qualified nations would fly out at their own expense just to participate, as a familiarisation trip. Therefore the TM was decisive on the matter which reflects that he is prepared to look at the bigger picture.
  2. Need for professional culture - When the Team Management Committee (TMC) made the announcement of the coaches and the managers of the various national teams, the TMC had "short circuited" the whole process including the procedures. It would seem that the TM was not consulted and neither the Management Committee nor the Coaching Committee had endorsed the decision. Sources indicate that the TM was not a happy person when he knew about it. It is rumoured that the TM had cautioned a few of them including that some form of "show cause" letter would be issued in the future if such things are repeated. Apparently he was concerned over the lack of professionalism. It would seem that the TM himself has become a victim of the so called unprofessional approach of a few of them.
  3. Notice period for execution of documentation - After the TMC episode, sources indicate that the TM wants a clear cut period for him to assimilate the documents that MHF forwards to him. The aspect of pushing matters through at the last minute is something the TM would not tolerate. A very clear message that proper planning is required at MHF.
It would seem the "honey moon" period is over in MHF. It would seem that the TM is starting to exercise his powers as he sees matters are not moving in the right way. I do hope that every official in MHF does the right thing in a professional way, as it is important for Malaysian hockey. Self interest and seeking glamour, while overlooking ethics and conflicts of interest are only going to kill the game. People who think they are in that position must take the rightful action and not bring Malaysian hockey to disrepute.

Meantime, well done TM on your latest decisions.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is a "storm" brewing in MHF?

It is rumoured that the TM is meeting all the officials and coaches that were appointed by the the Team Management Committee (TMC) sometime this week. The TM is probably going to listen to their ideas and get to know them better. After all they are suppose to be working for the betterment of Malaysian hockey, at least, according to the TMC.

How on "earth" did the names "surface" to the TMC, is going to be the key question. News from the grapevines indicate intense lobbying took place and the Chairman of TMC was literally bombarded with non stop calls. Certain members of the TMC were also involved and by the time the meeting took place at least 3 to 4 members of the Committee knew how to "play" their cards. The Chairman of the Coaching Committee had other ideas but he realised that he could not upset the prevailing situation and went along. 2 others remained innocent to the whole charade that was taking place. In all this an NSC official was present and taking an active role.

Having made all the necessary appointments and giving credence to the lobbyists, the TMC is now shopping for another member to the committee. Indeed they have approached 3 to 4 others and most of them have turned it down. The ones who believe in a professional working culture, and the demands of ethics, and the understanding of issues relating to conflict of interest, would not want to participate as a member of TMC or agree to the appointments. It is people who seek the journey of glamour and think that in the process they are doing a good deed, would clamour for such appointments. In fact they do not realise they are doing more damage to the administration of hockey and ultimately the game. The way the TMC has operated, it shows that good governance and accountability are only "paper" items but not to be put into practice.

So why is there a storm brewing in MHF? After the TMC's announcement of the various appointments and the shelving of the Chairman of Coaching Committee's recommendation, the various state affiliates are literally upset. Certain coaches who hoped to find their names on the list have already sounded their respective state office bearers. Many are waiting for the Coaching Committee meeting to vent their frustrations. One affiliate had this to say: 'What is the difference between the current MHF and the previous one.They are all doing the same things despite the promise to change". There is a feeling that nothing has changed and if any it has brought certain "new people" in to continue the old habits.

Even those who have been named to the various positions are a little puzzled. They do not have their letters of appointment, their terms of appointment and their targets. It would seem that these were all done in a hurry to fulfill the wishes of a few people so as their personal objectives could be achieved without looking at the broader interest of MHF. Indeed intense lobbying is still continuing for various other appointments by the TMC, to ensure friend's promises to certain parties are honoured. This also includes foreign consultants.

There has been recommendations of how appointments should be undertaken. If "grey matters" had been utilised, the TMC should have advertised for the various places and had a panel to shortlist the candidates. They should have interviewed them and then recommended who should be selected. This way everything would be above board and a basis set for the fulfillment of good governance and transparency. What is surprising is how TM is tolerating such actions and how NSC has become part of all these. Maybe the term "tolong kawan" has a greater meaning to certain key officials than the betterment of hockey and Malaysian sports.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hockey Round- up.

There are a few things "happening" that needs every hockey fans attention:
  • New hockey stadium in Johor Baru. It is usual practice when a new stadium is built and before a major tournament, the facilities are tested by holding a tournament at the grounds. This effectively becomes a dress rehearsal before the major tournament. More important is the hockey pitch, to determine if there is even bounce for the hockey ball. Further it is also a basis to check the drainage and water stagnation in the pitch. All these are referred to as "seasoning" or "running in" the pitch and facilities. The other area that is tested is the electronic scoreboard and the lighting systems. They tend to be a troublesome area. Further it is also a place where the Organisers tend to do their practice runs with the technical delegates, umpires, officials, protocol, security and finally movement of the crowd and the vehicles. Shocking !!!!!!! MHF does not want to organise a tournament at Johor Baru in March 2009 because it is expensive and MHF cannot afford it. What an excuse? Sorry MHF, the excuse cannot sell. On the other side of the coin, they prefer to send the Juniors to Australia for warm-up matches. What a story! Is that not going to cost MHF or NSC? Why not use that cost to get the teams down to Johor Baru and undertake the warm-up matches, if the tournament is really going to be expensive. At least on a piece meal basis the Johor Baru facilities can be tested plus the Juniors can also get use to the facilities in a game environment. One need not be a PhD holder to do such thinking. Not only have we performed badly in the game, it looks like we may also mess up the organisational aspects including having properly functional and co-ordinated facilities for the 2009 Junior Hockey World Cup. It shows the narrow thinking of MHF.
  • Fitness an issue with the Seniors. The national hockey league is over and it would seem the seniors may not be fit. What a situation, when most of them are from EY. The equation gets complicated as the EY manager is also the national team manager. What a paradox. My question: Would things get better? MHF through NSC are paying the seniors from RM1500 to RM2500 per month. This is being done whether the players are fit or not. On top of it, a club like EY pays their national players RM2500 to RM3000 per month, whether they are fit or not. The moral of the whole system is: If you are senior national player, whether you are fit or otherwise, one should have a monthly income at the minimum of RM4000 to RM5500. So why worry about fitness?
  • Hockey Seminar outcome? What is happening to the findings of the hockey Seminar organised by MHF? Is it going to be the same "old story" of forgetting about it and allowing dust to collect? It must be. The latest actions of the Team Management Committee seem to have completely forgotten what took place at the Seminar. Yes, it is the "old story" of lobbyists and friends while ethics and conflict of interest are all thrown out of the door. Why not? After all it seems to be a few people's private playground. Strictly by invitation only.
Two months have gone and I must say I am becoming concerned on what is going on in MHF. Mind you they have only 22 months left and most of their targets seem to be at the end of the term of these office bearers. To date, i am not impressed, although the TM may have made the right sounds but it is the various Committees that may not have made the changes.They are still caught in a time warp.