Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Malaysian hockey and the National Team Manager put on the dock - re: Malay Mail.

Today's Malay Mail has an interesting hockey article titled "By George" on the link: www.mmail.com.my/category/channel/sports/hockey. This is another "master piece" of Johnson Fernandez, who has bluntly put across the pathetic situation in MHF particularly in dealing with "ill disciplined" players.

The National Team Manager is taken to task as his club players donning the national colours are the main actors in this "ill discipline" drama. These players are playing for one of the top 4 accounting firms in the world and the article puts into perspective the image such players would bear on the club.

It questions the wisdom of selecting such players for the Dublin tournament. Indeed it refers to MHF as "toothless" and I believe he is right. Johnson in a nutshell put the onus on MHF and the National Team Manager on the discipline issues and he cannot be wrong.

Folks, please read this article and judge for yourself the issues.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Malaysia's disappointmenmt at Junior World Cup - "To rebound with State league for Under 18. Is this the excuse not to have a post mortem?"

Unlucky in the preliminary round and miserable thereafter was the conclusion of the MHF Management Committee at their last week's meeting, when they discussed the National Juniors performance at the Junior World Cup (JWC). They could have got to the last eight but a draw with Spain meant they lost out on goal difference.

Therefore it was all about luck not about the Juniors playing accordingly where it matters. Unlucky to lose to Korea because of goalkeeper's mistake and so on as the excuses were being made. All is good if MHF want to console themselves but the reality is, there has to be a post mortem as to why the team was unlucky. At least in the language of MHF.

This is where MHF does not have the "guts" to do it. They are frighten of an "autopsy" on the performance of the team, as they may not be able to accept any unusual findings. So the best thing is to sweep the whole issue of the Juniors performance at JWC under the carpet.

Sweeping under the carpet has become the "specialised skill" of MHF. They have choreographed the art of sweeping so as issues such as allegations on match fixing, the players appearing for training smelling with alcohol, players who were caught "red handed" on excessive drinking of alcohol and returning wee hours of the morning, may become acceptable norms. These with time may be added on as the new standards so as it can become the qualities of the future Malaysian hockey player. As I have stated it before: "A stitch in time saves nine." Something MHF seem not to subscribe to, for they may not be worried of the future. At least their decisions may seem to reflect it.

Fearful to make decisive and unpopular decisions, MHF continue to plod along and hope time will make people forget the issue or allow other new issues to bury the old issues. By then it would become a complex web of issues that people would be just too tired to pull out issue by issue. Therefore they all get swept away ultimately. So why make a fuss on the first place. "Machiavellian" of the highest order.

In order to let people forget the past issues ie the performance of the Juniors and the need for post mortem, MHF may have developed this new idea of State Under 18 league. Preoccupied with this, people would forget the 4 years of resources put into preparing the Juniors for a home organised JWC. This 4 years have cost the NSC coffers a minimum of around RM 4.4 million. Now it would seem there is no need to account for the cost especially when the targets have not been achieved. Maybe this is the "new order" of the day for "Malaysia Boleh" in MHF.

Friday, June 26, 2009

MALAYSIAN HOKI BOLEH! Forgiven for excessive alcohol consumption.

"MALAYSIA BOLEH" - a sports battle cry, created by Milo as a marketing slogan caught on with Malaysians like a wild fire. It transcended sports and went into every facet of Malaysian way of life. It is the national inspirational slogan providing that extra adrenaline for the push to succeed.

For years "Malaysia Boleh" was inspirational and was always related to the better aspects of life. As it became common even the negative aspects were associated to the slogan from an achievable aspects. Slowly "Malaysia Boleh"
represented "the good, the bad and the ugly". The other term that was developed was "Bolehland", referring to a place where anything is possible. Usually the term is used in an insulting manner.

Last night as I watched the TV, an aspect of hockey caught my eyes and ears. It was the broadcast of the 3 players caught for excessive alcohol consumption and returning wee hours of the morning being given a warning. Apparently this was the decision of MHF and how forgiving they have become. They are young lads and why punish them and spoil their career in hockey. They have made a mistake and the warning shall act as deterrent to ensure it does not happen again in the future. Furthermore they are much needed for the FIH tournament in Dublin in early July and any severe action may have an impact on the team.

All perfectly valid reasons for the weak and lame sports administrators. The future is not on their minds and their concern is only "present time". Probably the future will take care of itself and is someone else problem. The "present time" is the present committees worry and they should not "shot their own feet" to progress. This in a nutshell provides the sad state of affairs of Malaysian hockey because no one in MHF is worried of the future. Today's problem is only going to be a bigger problem tomorrow. Why worry about?

Somehow the equations do not seem to have been fully resolved. MHF have forgiven the players. What about NSC, as this incident took place at their accommodation, in breach of their rules. Then you have the national manager, who has all the players involved in excessive drinking coming from his club where he is also manager. The players earn their other salary from the club. How is the team manager handling this issue..

These are the conflicts that prevail for both NSC and the team manager. NSC sits in MHF Management meeting, in Team Management Committee and pays the players. NSC wants results and any severe action may have consequences to the results. On the other side the team manager pays the club players and most of them turn out for the national team. Any punishment there has an implication on his club.

So it is "Malaysia Boleh" and MHF has become "Bolehland" for anything to everything.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

FOUND ! Arul Selvaraj - Hockey coach & former international

S S Dhaliwal in his blog ssdhaliwal.blogspot.com on 25th June had an article titled "Malaysian Hockey Forgotten Coach." It is a detail report on Arul Selvaraj, a former Malaysian hockey international who became a coach.

Arul as he is known had a stint as an Assistant Coach with the Malaysian team under the German hockey coach Paul Lissek. He went on in the same position to South Africa with their national team and now he is in Ireland, also as Assistant to the Irish national team.

Not only he had and is having experience with 3 different countries national teams but simultaneously has carved a career in 3 continents i.e Asia, Africa and Europe. Obviously in Malaysian context all these must be a rare achievement.

We must congratulate Arul and wish him the very best in his endeavours. We must also thank S S Dhaliwal for the story.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Malaysian hockey's alcohol consumption fiasco - "What is happening?"

2 national players coming for training in the morning smelling of alcohol after a late nite and 3 others who returned "slush" with alcohol to their NSC accommodation in the wee hours of the morning seem to represent a problem that has confronted the national teams from the Poland days in 2004 to the Junior team fiasco there.

The then team manager resigned after the incident and today is involved in MHF, including in the proposed panel to advice the current national coach. The then coach went on to become the national chief coach and unceremoniously had to vacate his position because of the pending changes that was realised in the BGM of MHF in November 2008.

5 years later we are still facing the problem of excessive drinking among players and late nites particularly on training days. Has it become such a problem that it is uncontrollable? Or is it only related to a few and the matter is being blown out of proportion? Whatever it maybe, the point is the discipline action that followed after the Poland episode must have not made an impact on the players or future generation of players. The punishment may not have created a deterrent measure and therefore the excessive alcohol drinking and partying habits just continue to prevail.

In a way it is sad that the young lads are not allowed to enjoy their life. If they do not drink and party at this age, they may miss a large part of their youth life and this is not going to return. The easy money and the glamour that comes their way is tempting and resisting it requires great courage. These lads are not "superhuman beings" and therefore some of them would fall to the temptation.

In all honesty I do not think that former hockey internationals were "angels". They too would have indulged but the point is they would have taken a balanced approach. They would not have gone over board with excessive drinking and late nites or they would have confined such indulgent to non training days or on their "leave" days.

An example is the 1968 Mexico Olympics incident with the national hockey team. Some form of news blackout is maintained and the whole truth of what happened has never surface. The rumour was it involved booze and women. This was the Malaysian squad and in the words of the then Germany's national coach, it was a squad who would be a sure semi-finalist in the Olympics. The team was groomed and nurtured painstakingly by the late legendary Datuk Dr Aziz Durairatnam. What prevailed outside the field contributed to Malaysia being placed 11th or 12th at the Mexico Olympics.

The fallout of the Mexico Olympic episode saw the end of Datuk Dr Aziz Durairatnam's involvement in hockey and substantial members of the team retired or never found a place in the national team bar 2 or 3. That was the price Malaysian hockey had to pay but it did not stop Malaysia from going to the 1972 Olympics and emerging 4th in the 1975 World Cup.

The late Tun Abdul Razak as President of MHF then knew what had to be done. There was no compromise to the lack of discipline in the players and the disciplinary actions had to come swift. Even the team manager, the late Datuk Dr Aziz Durairatnam took it upon himself to quit, which was the only right thing to do.

Today on the incident of the 1st 2 players, MHF was procrastinating over it for sometime and when an action followed it effectively was an "ant bite". Now we have the incident of the 3 players and again everyone seem to be "mentally constipated" to pursue the disciplinary action. Indeed the common aspect of all these 5 players is that they play for the same team in the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) and have the same manager as the national team. What a coincidence!

Maybe MHF does not have the "stomach" to undertake severe disciplinary actions. They allowed the match fixing allegation slip, they went hot and cold on the 2 players and now on the 3 with all the evidence they seem to be frighten to act. The feeling is they do not have the players and these players are indispensable to the team. So why upset them? The most that can happen is there could be "repeat performances" of their excessive drinking and late nites but at least there is still a team. These "prima donnas" like the lead soprano in an opera, are much needed for Malaysia hockey. So why fuss over it? Maybe with time all these could be forgotten or just accepted as "fait accompli"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"The Vadai Has Landed"

Folks, please visit the blog referred to as "The Vadai Has Landed" on link darthvadai.blogspot.com.

His article on "Uphill task - Hockey" is worth reading. Another blogger who shows his concern on the state of affairs of Malaysian hockey.

Much have been said, yet nothing concrete seem to be happening. All that is happening is our performance and ranking is not getting any better, rather it is on a downward spiral. Why MHF?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Malaysian hockey - "Clueless manner of spending monies without any understanding the need for favourable returns"

For the last 3 months MHF has been extremely busy starting with the Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy, then the Asia Cup and lately the Junior World Cup (JWC). In between they had the Division 1 & 2 of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL).

The officials must be exhausted and in many ways they must be commended for their organisational skills. While there would be some shortcomings but I believe that they were not "fatalistic" in outlook to dent Malaysia's hospitality. The scenario is best summed up by the President of FIH, when he stated that there were only a few glitches in the co hosting of the JWC. MHF and SHF must be praised for their efforts in doing a good job.

While in organisational skills for tournaments we may have top marks but the same cannot be stated for the performance in the game, generally by Asian countries and in particular by Malaysia. Asian hockey must have got to a deplorable stage as not even one Asian country was in the semi-finals. Like in the FIH Committees and Executive Board, it was about European and Oceanic countries, sharing the "spoils" equally. Why not? They deserve it as they played hard and intelligently to ensure the investments in resources for the JWC paid off.

The Europeans and the Oceanic countries are great advocates of self regulation which starts all the way from the very bottom. They do not spent long periods in centralised training and on fitness but rather adopt a scientific methodology in their training and tactical outlooks with the latest innovations in bio-medicine and sports science. They utilise the latest state of the art technology in information technology to measure the various inputs and outputs, so as to understand each player and how best to strategically adopt them into the game plans. In all these they have a clear cut objective and that is when to get the team to "peak", so as the optimum performance is best seen in tournaments that make a difference in the overall world rankings.

To do all these the fundamental aspect is the mental strength of the players. This is something the players would have cultivated themselves through the self regulating process and gradually fine tuned by their coaches. The fact the players are fully occupied, keeps their minds "sharp" as oppose to the laziness that creeps in when players have nothing to do in their non training time under long centralised periods. The unproductive nature of the mind ie being idle in such situations, only encourages players to become feeble under stress as they cannot find the mental strength to cope. This is because their minds do not have the training to appreciate and minimise the pressure.

It is probably the Koreans who are best prepared to cope with modern hockey in Asia. The rest of Asia are faltering and more so Malaysia as we "throw" good money for bad causes. If we take the cost involved in preparing the Junior team for the last 4 years consisting of 25 players, 2 coaches and a manager, with an average of 2 tours or overseas tournaments per year and incorporating accommodation plus food during centralised training, it comes to an average around RM 1.1 million a year. A staggering RM 4.4 million must have been spent in preparing this Junior team and to achieve 12th position on home ground. What a WASTE and this without taking account of the various other specialise people involved from ISN and NSC.

Time and time again we have gone down this track of putting good money for bad use. Hobart 2001 - 12th, Rotterdam 2005 - 10th and Johor Baru 2009 - 12th, does not give a good reading. Yet NSC just continues pouring the money and sadly it is just WASTED. Who is ever going to do a cost benefit exercise to see the TRUTH.

It is inevitable, the change has to take place. Too many people and thoughts have become "fixtures and fittings", which have to be moved to the museum. The TM had the opportunity and it is still not too late but the revamp must be done. This CRY was there last year this time and the CRY still continues. Why not TM act upon the CRY? Things are getting worse and unless the rot is stopped or not hockey cannot be saved.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Rajan to remain as coach" - Is it not defending the turf even before a post mortem?

I had remained silent on the National Juniors because they were working towards achieving their targets in the Junior World Cup (JWC) 2009. I refrained from being critical as the boys needed support rather than criticisms in this late hour. No team wants to lose and in the 11th hour we should not dent the hopes of our boys, realistic or unrealistic as it may be. Once the tournament ends, there is ample time to do the post-mortem and make all the noise.

Peculiarly, before the post-mortem could be done and while struggling to find a placing of 11th or 12th in the JWC 2009 on home country, the main media and some known bloggers are already carrying the news that the Junior Chief Coach be retained for the 2013 JWC. The argument is that the coach has done a great job in the short time and that should give him the right for the 2013 job.

No! I have nothing against it except why "beat the gun". The coach target was last eight i.e quarter-finals, whereas MHF was semi-finals. It would seem on both the targets we were out of reach. Now the Juniors are struggling to a worse of position than 2005, where Malaysia was 10th.

Lets be logical ! Is it fair to ask for a coach to remain, when he does not meet his own target and above all MHF's unrealistic target. Further the placing of the Juniors is worst off than the previous JWC. Surely, this cannot be an objective call rather it is more like a defence of nominating the coach for the JWC 2009.

We need to realise that Malaysian hockey in a way is "gifted", because of the support of the Government ie NSC, yet our performance does not match the time, money and resources that have been invested. If we look at the other nations and do a comparative study, then we shall understand how we are "molly codling" hockey to the stage we are killing the players' and officials' hunger to succeed.

Why go that far? Compare to the days where players had to use their own resources to don national colours or go on international tournaments including Olympics. Their commitment and success rate was of a sterling nature. The reason being, nothing came easy as today.

Rather than blowing the trumpet of relatively an unfavourable position of the Juniors in the JWC 2009 and attempting to grab the straws to hold on out of desperation, it is paramount an urgent post mortem be carried to determine why the Juniors were "off target" and what should be done to avoid such a situation in the future. Further i believe an analysis of the Junior players be done and determine how best they can fit into the various national teams.

I believe the ideal choice for the post mortem panel is:
  1. R Yogeswaran - a complete hockey personality.
  2. Stephen Van Huizen - the most successful Malaysian national coach in the modern era.
  3. Ow Soon Kooi - a self made rags to riches personality, a former national captain.
  4. V Sivapathasundram - the teacher from Tampin, who created talents that provided the stars of the various national teams.
  5. Mokhtar Baharudin - the teacher from Ipoh, who seem to be the modern day "Sivapathasundram".

I think these people can provide a fair position of the Juniors state of affairs and do the needful recommendation. So, blowing the trumpet now particularly as the achievement is completely off target may create a perception that failure is acceptable despite the huge resources that was invested. Lets not pull wool over the eyes.

In the meantime, if the Committee feels Rajan has done a good job and circumstances did not permit him to get the results with the team, I believe MHF should second him for a period of 18 months to the coaching units of one of the top 4 teams in the world like Australia, Germany, Holland or Spain. The condition precedent is that he must get his FIH Level 1 certificate. This way we also start the exercise to train our coaches with an excellence background .

Lets see how serious MHF gets down to repairing the dilemma.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

FIH, AHF, MHF & SHF - "By default they may have let the development of excellence in hockey slip."

It is confirmed that 2 European and 2 Oceanic countries are in the semi-finals of the Junior World Cup (JWC) 2009. Asian nations did not make the grade despite the event being held in the Asian continent. I presume Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) must be devastated with such an outcome.

In my article of 17th June 2009 in this blog titled: A call to FIH - "A need for grass hockey, to ensure hockey does not become an endangered game," i did state that FIH - the world body in hockey is a domination of European and Oceanic representatives. This is not only on the Executive Board but also at the various Committees. The Asian representation is "dotted" and they do not even have the opportunity to Chair a Committee. Therefore it is not surprising to see the same reflected in the results of the games too!

If there is "blameworthiness" to be apportioned, then the Asian countries have to take the brunt of it. They were the ones on the first place who surrendered their own advantage decades ago. If it was in the Colonial days, one could understand. The Colonial masters usually have a gun in one hand in a so called "negotiation". In hockey this was not the case, rather the Asian hockey administrators just followed the tide of change propagated by their European and Oceanic counterparts without appreciating the long term damage to Asian hockey and hockey as whole.

Arguments like all weather pitches, even & predictable bounce, speed, safety, etc etc etc were sufficient to entice the Asian countries to support in the classical wine and dine environment. Issues like costs, accessibility, affordability, change of rules and the "opportunity costs" that the developing countries or poor countries have to fore go were not part of the equation in the decision making process.

All the above in a nutshell permitted Asian countries to slowly lose their hold as "powers" of hockey, while the popularity of the game continued its erosion. Asian hockey is becoming history, a point proven by the results of JWC 2009. More so as these countries by default or omission dig their graves deeper to bury themselves, when they have the opportunity to do something.

Today, as the top people in hockey gather in Malaysia and Singapore for the JWC ie coaches, umpires, technical delegates, medical experts, bio-medicine & sports medicine scientists etc etc etc, one would have thought sufficient seminars, workshops, courses and round table discussions would have been organised in the "sidelines" of the JWC.

Obviously, the excuse would be time and resources that would create an handicap for such events. I believe these are mortal excuses. If FIH, AHF, MHF & SHF had the "will" and "vision", they could have generated more Asians including their respective nationalities with FIH coaching certificates and/or international class umpires or update themselves with innovation in sports science and/or information technology in the game. The opportunity existed prior to the commencement of JWC or during rest days or in the morning of game days. Some how Asia is left behind and probably a census may proof this point.

Take Malaysia, we have only 4 FIH Level 1 coaches. None at all in "Master Coach" level. The same can be stated of our umpires too. We could just count them by our 5 fingers. I wonder what would Singapore have? Yet we did not grab the opportunity because the Chairman of the Coaching Committee or Umpires Board or other respective committees are in their "hibernation" stage or undergoing severe "mental blockade". When the opportunity appears we seem to allow it to slip away. I also wonder why the same also happens with FIH and AHF.

Therefore, how can one uplift Asian hockey. They themselves are making matters worst while AHF and FIH seem only to be providing "lip service". There is no doubt things are going to get worst for Asian hockey and the term "excellence" would not be in the vocabulary of Asian hockey in time to come. Like the Bengal Tigers and the Asian rhinos, hockey is set to become an "endangered" game in Asia. Like all the great Asian empires, who could not sustain their dominance, it seems hockey is also no different. Therefore future Asian children would only come to know of hockey through history lessons, as we are now doing on the Asian empires. Probably, we have to live on our past glories.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A call to FIH - The need for grass hockey, to ensure hockey does not become an"endangered" game.

3 countries have qualified for the semifinals of the 2009 Junior World Cup. There are 2 European nations and an Oceanic nation. The 4th spot is going to be a toss up between an Oceanic nation and an Asian country. The demography seem to reflect that the "Caucasian" nations in general seem to be the dominating factor in the game while without doubt being a developed nation is becoming a fundamental yardstick to achieve success.

The essential question is: "Why are these 2 factors playing such a key role in the current dominance of field hockey?"

Much of the answer relates to history more so the way Asian countries by acts of omission surrendered to the changes in hockey that came into being from the 1970s onwards. The Asian decline was not instantaneous but over time as the generations of players that otherwise should have come through the ranks of the natural process of development did not materialise, as in the past decades prior to the 70s.

This yet begs another question: "Why was there such an inhibition in the natural process of development in hockey?"

When hockey was played on natural grass surface, people in Asia would play it anywhere, so long as there was a patch and the natural greens were common settings plus readily available,which made hockey a common sports for the continent When artificial surfaces became the nominated grounds in hockey, such pitches were not common sights because of the high costs and they were not readily accessible in view of locality and affordability. These combination of factors created a scenario where there was a regression phenomenon in the natural process of development. Young kids turned to other games, where the natural environment still provides the breeding ground for such sports.

Changing of surfaces saw the game move into a another paradigm and with it came the different attires & equipments plus the change of rules. A combination of this made hockey an expensive game for an average Asian young kid. Sparing 2 or 3 countries, the rest of Asia particularly the main hockey playing nations are of developing status or poor. Therefore to equip young players with a decent stick, turf shoes, socks and guards i.e shin and mouth is not exactly a cheap exercise. This itself creates a hindrance for young Asian kids to take up hockey. Compound these with the issue of accessibility and affordability to play on artificial turf, makes hockey a "rich person" game, thereby out of reach of majority of the kids in Asia. The impact is that the game of hockey has over time lost much of its popularity in Asia.

The preceding paragraphs would probably provide insights into why developed countries seem to be successful since the 70s. A census of the number of artificial turf pitches in such countries itself would provide sufficient evidence of the growth of the game in such countries. The wealth of the nation provides it the very basis to create the infrastructures for the promotion of the game. Something the developing and poor countries can only look on and be envious as their priorities of spending are different. Therefore unless a Asian hockey playing nation is of developed nation status, success in hockey may continue to elude them.

The other aspect is : "How does the Caucasian connection play a role in the game of hockey?" 8 of the top 10 nations are from Europe or Oceanic and where the "Caucasian" influence is highly significant. Both these continents dominate FIH and spearhead most of its Committees. Without doubt, they would want to promote and maintain dominance in what is good for them. Obviously, the "dotted" Asian representation in FIH including one high in the hierarchy originating from a country not renowned in international hockey, puts Asia without much of a "voice" to change things. Other than giving Asia the opportunity to organise tournaments, the rest of the issues in hockey from pitches to rules are a domain of the "Caucasian" countries of the FIH.

FIH have to quickly start taking note of the changes that are progressing in world economics, where the shift of economic power base is slowly moving to Asia. If hockey needs support and the audience, FIH has to move accordingly, to ensure Asia is not kept out. The sooner such reality sinks in or not hockey may lose out to other sports who have or are moving with such haste into Asia.

One such way is to reinvent hockey by allowing grass hockey to resurface and co-exists with turf hockey. Indeed similar to turf hockey, grass hockey too must have a World Cup with qualifiers and continental tournaments. Both grass and turf hockey should run parallel and the combined position of both grass and turf should provide the overall ranking in world hockey. As for the Olympics, whether it should be grass or turf, it could be answered as to which has the biggest audience.

With the reinvention, hockey can become a game that cuts across all "grounds" and all segments of society, thereby providing a greater attraction for people to get involved. If hockey is not reinvented fast, FIH might as well realise that hockey may end up as an "endangered" game in Asia, Africa and even in South America. Domination does not necessarily help to promote the game worldwide and provide equitable representation. Think about it seriously and carefully FIH. Thereafter act expeditiously in the best interest of the game.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad express his views.

I sincerely hope people would visit http://rizalhashim.blogspot.com, particularly the article "Top Manager" dated Friday 12th.June 2009. Please read the article and then "click" on the "comment". Mazlan Ahmad, in his simplistic manner has pen a few meaningful lines.

He accredits a lot of his work style to passion and without doubt 1998 Commonwealth was the pinnacle of his career in NSC. Today, he seem to look at another challenge and that is uplifting sports in schools, once the traditional breeding ground for our sportsmen. The new bearer of this vision is no other than the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), who is also the Minister of Education.

Datuk Mazlan had the opportunity to have served the DPM, when he was just the Minister of Sports, Youth & Culture. The DPM knows the capability of Datuk Mazlan and therefore for Datuk it must be a nostalgic feeling to serve again his former boss and also Malaysian sports effectively.

Yet again, lets wish Datuk Mazlan Ahmad our best wishes and all the success in his endeavours with sports in Ministry of Education. Our hopes and prayers are that generations of talents would emerge from the schools in years to come.

Sports with 1heart for 1Malaysia.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Is it true? Mike the GM of MHF

SS Dhaliwal in his blog had indicated that the Deputy President of MHF had stated that the former Malaysian international Maninderjit Singh or otherwise known as Mike is to become General Manager of MHF. Apparently it is all a formality of awaiting NSC's approval. It was also stated that he is to report on 1st July 2009.

Although rumours did exist prior to SS Dhaliwal's story on it but the comment of the MHF Deputy President seem to further confirm the rumour. I wonder why there is no official news release from MHF on such an appointment. Is this another one of the statements of the Deputy President which is just a spontaneous reaction. Many things have had happened in the past and sometimes it is difficult to comprehend the Deputy President's reactions whether that is MHF's official position.

I have no doubt that SS Dhaliwal is just as excited as anyone of us but until there is an official communique from MHF, it may be premature to extend a formal congratulations to Mike.

After all, "there have been many a slips between the cup and the lips" and therefore it may be wise to wait for an official announcement.

A deserving recognition for Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad

"Loose Cannon" Malaysia's popular sports blog http://rizalhashim.blogspot.com, which provides an in depth analysis of Malaysian sports, seem to have carried an exclusive story titled "Top Manager" on Friday 12th June.

The story relates to a series "Malaysia's Eminent Figures" by Medium Publication, which highlights key Malaysian personalities like Tan Sri Jamil Rais, Tan Sr Zain Azraai, Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz and many other renowned Malaysians.

Joining this list is no other than Datuk Wira Mazlan Harun, the retired longest serving Director General of National Sports Council (NSC). Today he remains as the Chairman of Sports Advisory Panel (SAP) and still plays a significant role in Malaysian sports. This recognition is befitting Datuk Mazlan, who has quietly worked hard to uplift sporting standards in the country. His role at the Commonwealth Games 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, with Bukit Jalil as the then new Sports Complex brought significant pride to Malaysian sports.

Datuk Mazlan joins the rightful ranks of all the Tan Sris' and I believe it is only a matter of time such a title would also come his way. Datuk is an approachable person, who has time for anyone with ideas of improving Malaysian sports. He endeavors to be a helping hand, if he feels the subject matter deserves its due assistance. He is a person who is ready to accept new ideas and always wants to be knowledgeable concerning any new development in sports.

We must thank Rizal Hashim for highlighting the details and also congratulate Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad for joining the ranks of eminent figures of Malaysia.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Malaysian hockey's alcohol consumption fiasco - "Questions that need answers"

As Berita Harian reports more on the probable fate of the 3 players involved in the "alcohol consumption" and returning wee hours in the morning to an NSC accommodation, there are a number of questions that need response to clarify why such an incident took place. More so as this issue had been simmering on the back burner for sometime.

The lack of decisive action in past has permitted the matter to spread and the frightening aspect is how deep this problem has become infectious on the others in the team. This is not a new issue rather a common phenomenon with the hockey players. Such a problem was not arrested in the past because they have been swept under the carpet or officials just "pooh poohed" the matter with the barest of punishment. Since a deterrent was never created, this simply provided
a clear pathway to do things to the players whims and fancies.

This is not unusual as allegations on match fixing, gambling and other financial dealings have all been forgotten and life just continues as though nothing has happened. Such things if left as it is may become "cancerous" and eat into the very core of our sporting talents. Rather than allowing such matters to be forgotten, it is the duty of NSC, MHF and its officials to undertake the needful to preserve the integrity of Malaysian sports.

I think if NSC and MHF look at these questions and find the necessary answers, I am sure they can move forward with the necessary solutions. The questions are:
  1. Are these players the same players as those involved in the previous incidents in MHF?
  2. If so, what would MHF do?
  3. If not to (1) above, would MHF acknowledge that the problem is far bigger and deeper than the previous incident?
  4. The security at the NSC accommodation indicates that this is a common thing among the hockey players. Why was this not picked up by NSC officials in the past as they are responsible for supervision of the accommodation?
  5. Such incidents must be considered extraordinary and why were such matters not documented by the security and reviewed by the supervising officers?
  6. How come non national players were permitted to use accommodation meant for national players?
  7. Once the authorities became aware of the incident, why was Institute Sports Negara (ISN) doctors not called to do the necessary medical checks including blood tests to substantiate the extent of alcohol consumption?
  8. Is there NSC and MHF standard operating policies and procedures for athletes using NSC accommodation?
  9. Is there a punishment regime, if athletes breach the policies and procedures?
  10. What is the next course of action of NSC and MHF on this matter?

Please do not allow the problem to linger. The last time this was allowed to linger was just under 3 months ago and take note what has happened. It is not a question of punishing the culprits but rather teaching our athletes the responsibility they have to shoulder while donning national colours. Cuddling and pampering them while they break the written and unwritten rules relating to sports is just pushing Malaysian sports into the "Dark Ages".

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Malaysian hockey's alcohol consumption fiasco - "A stitch in time saves nine".

At a very young age we were taught to take precautionary measures to avoid a bigger problem. Therefore, the maxim of " A stitch in time saves nine" was always grilled into us, such that it would be totally absurd of us to forget it. Well embedded into our "grey matter", it always trouble me if i avoid confronting the issues timely, so as i can take the precautionary measures. Sometimes i think it is unavoidable but it is more a lapse of intelligence that makes the matter get out of control. At that stage to do "damage control" becomes a much more mammoth task.

Today's Berita Harian "spill the beans" on 3 players from the senior national team, with a story titled - "Gelagat tiga pemain hoki senior memalukan". Is it shocking to read that 3 players came back at 4.45 in the morning drunk and apparently one was in a bad situation? According to the security guard, this is a normal "happening" with the hockey players. Mind you, the incident took place at NSC's accommodation.


Today, Berita Harian has brought the shameful act to the public eyes. Time and time again this issue has been raised, yet the matter was swept under the carpet. The coaches tried their best and advocated for severe discipline actions but team management and the Team Management Committee (TMC) thought otherwise. These people have aided and abetted the alcohol consumption among the players, because of their failure in taking that decisive and severe actions. The "pussy footing" by these officials for reasons best known only to them, has brought shame to Malaysian hockey.

I hope that these officials in team management (excluding the coaches) and TMC tender their resignation while the players concerned must face disciplinary action including being "dropped" from the national team. If this is not done , then Malaysian hockey shall enter the "Dark Ages".

If only the officials remembered that "A stitch in time saves nine".

Friday, June 5, 2009

A former hockey international voices his concern of the equitable position of Asian countries in world hockey.

It was very unusual to receive a mail from a former hockey international especially Maninderjit Singh or commonly known as Mike. It is the first time he has used my blog and i feel honoured that he has chosen to bring out the operational aspect of ranking in hockey and the equitable position of Asian countries in world hockey.

Is world hockey following the traditional political argument of the "have and have nots", thereby creating a "gap" between the powerful hockey nations and the weak hockey nations. Honestly i do not believe that it had been planned in such a way, but strangely if you read this article, one cannot but speculate to such a conclusion.

I must commend Maninderjit Singh for this work. Mike has appropriately titled his article:


“Benefit and Burden Rule is Not Equitable” - FOR ASIAN TEAMS INCLUDING MALAYSIAN HOCKEY TEAM

My view is that FIH system is not equitable to the five Continental Federations that are affiliated to the International Hockey Federation (FIH); the world governing body for hockey. The impact of this system has reflected in the reducing number of Asian teams participating in the major events such as Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy.

Firstly, in the early 1970’s, the transformation of field hockey to artificial turf was introduced. This has permitted new rules to be developed in order to suit the new playing surface conditions. On top of that, the artificial pitches were too expensive for Asian in comparison to the wealthier European countries. All such issues have hindered the growth of Asian hockey standards in international arena. As of today, most of the European nations have dominated the game of hockey and we only have two teams from Asia in the top ten world ranking.

Secondly, after 30 years from the transformation of surface, the introduction of World ranking system in the 2003 by the FIH Executive Board has created major obstacles for Asian teams including Malaysian Hockey Team to qualify for World Cup and Olympics. This is because the current world ranking system is further used to determine quotas and reserve countries for major events such as Olympics, World Cup and etc.

The keynote facts of the current World Ranking system are as follows:

  • Only five tournaments are taken into account.
    § Olympics (including qualifier)
    § World Cup (including qualifier)
    § Champions Trophy
    § Champions Challenge 1 & 2
    § Continental Federation Championships including qualifier.

  • Ranking system taken over a 4-year cycle on teams performance with progressively less weighted year by year (25% discount per year over a 4-year until they are deleted).

  • Champions Trophy is played on annual basis whereas the Champion Challenge1 & 2 is played once in every two years.

Based on the current FIH system, I have observed 3 main prevailing issues that hinder the growth of Asian Teams including Malaysian Hockey Team. They are as follows:

  1. The 4-year cycle system creates a great discrepancy between the top 6, top 12 and top 18 in the world ranking. By participating in World Cup and Olympics would provide them to sustain their ranking throughout the 4 years. They are entitled to collect a maximum of 250% of the points earned throughout the 4-year cycle i.e. 100% for first year, 75% for second year, 50% for third year and 25% for the fourth year.

  2. More often than not, the top 6 teams who plays in Champion Trophy on annual basis permits them to improve their ranking annually, whereas the teams rank from 7th to 18th plays once in every two years in the Champion Challenge 1 & 2. The team ranked above 18th has only their Continental Federation Championship to improve their ranking.

  3. Continental Federation Championship points are allocated and adjusted based on the Europe Hockey Federation points. For an example, a number 7 ranked team in Europe gets 450 points whereas in Asia is 182.3 points, Africa is 36 points, Oceania is 24.8 and Pan America is 166.5. Over and above this has an impact over the 4-year cycle system. The reason provided was the different standard and quality of playing nations among the Continents.

The following quotas were allocated to the five (5) Continents for the FIH 2010 World Cup based on the current World ranking:

To have an equitable system for World Ranking system and Quotas for World Cup and Olympics, I would like to recommend five strategies. They are as follows:

1. Reduce to 2-years cycle instead of 4-years cycle. The World Cup and Olympic events are separated by two years. For an example, the next 2010 World Cup and 2012 London Olympics and in which every two years, the qualified teams either in Olympics or World Cup could only collect a maximum of 150% of points earned i.e.100% of points for the first year and 50% deduction for the second year.

2. Total of 16 teams for the World Cup and 12 teams for Olympics. As for the World Cup which is under the jurisdiction of FIH, shall permit more teams to qualify and indirectly has a greater chance to improve their world ranking.

3. Champions Trophy and Champions Challenge 1 & 2 to be played once in every two years. This tournament shall be held once between the 2-years cycle. For an example: after 2010 World Cup, the Champions Trophy and Champions Challenge 1 & 2 shall be organize in the year 2011. The next competition for both events shall be held in the year 2013 after the 2012 London Olympics. Therefore, it permits new qualified teams to participate and redeem points.

4. Organize a Mini World Cup for the teams ranked from number 17 to 32. With this additional tournament, the under ranked teams has a chance to reduce the discrepancy gap between the rich and the poor. A separate ranking point system shall be formulated for the purpose of this tournament.

5. The Quotas for the Qualifying Round for the World Cup and Olympics shall be based on the individual Continental Federations ranking and not based on World Ranking system. With this, the old fashioned Inter-Continental Championship shall make his return to justifiable the quota system based on the five (5) Continental Federations. This shall also ensure a great equality among the world playing nations.

By understanding the system and looking at the allocation of quotas, the future for Asian team including Malaysian Hockey Team has an uphill battle to qualify for the coming World Cup and Olympics. This is due to the “Benefit and Burden Rule is Not Equitable” in the FIH World Ranking System. Therefore, it is my fervent hope that all the five (5) Continental Federations and the Executive Board of FIH to revisit and review the system for the betterment and equality of all playing nations.

It is strange to note that only three (3) members out of twenty four (24) members are from Asia in the FIH Executive Board. It only denotes 12.5% of the decision making. Therefore, it is going to be difficult to convince the FIH Executive Board unless the relevant Continental Federations intend to work hand in hand to remedy and push the changes accordingly within their means.

All the Best…

Maninderjit Singh (Mike)
Former Malaysian Hockey International
(1990 to 2002)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A plea to the TM on Malaysian hockey.

This time last year, the backdrop of Malaysian hockey started with the National team being embroiled in the "match fixing" allegations, despite their fairly satisfactory performance at 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy and a year earlier at the Asia Cup. Their failure to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games literally sealed the fate of the people connected to the senior team. Concurrently the Juniors disaster of the European tour in 2008, including struggling with minnow nations in hockey and the follow on disappointments at the Junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad in 2008 stitched the fate of the key personalities running the team. The decay of Malaysian hockey was further exemplified with another disastrous outing of the National Under 16 to Germany in 2008.

The above issues are mainly performance related and, incorporating the poor management skills of the previous regime, aided and abetted the call for change in MHF. Many groups were involved but the one that ignited the spark was the anonymous letters laced with certain strong and "wild" language from "Chintahoki" that snowballed the interest of a lager audience in the hockey fraternity. The group that catalysts the process was the "102 former hockey internationals" with their open letter and their signature campaign. Supported by internationals from 1956 Melbourne Olympics to present time, they came up with a nearly 100 page of Report relating to the transformation of Malaysian. The core aspect of the Report is the "Road Map" to revive the doldrums of Malaysian hockey.

When the change in MHF seem eminent, many got involved from the top to the bottom, wanting a piece of the action. There is no doubt that the Sultan of Perak, the Chairman of Sports Advisory Committee, some outstanding former national coaches and national managers ( i literally mean outstanding) and the "102" Group became the instrument of change. Of course one cannot forget the role of "Chintahoki".

Today there are many, including those who have blamed various parties, going around claiming credit that they were the instrument that brought the change. I think that is OK, provided they can ensure that there is a major upliftment in our standard of hockey. Sadly, other than being around the corridor with the powerful, rich and famous, they are even unable to deliver in the areas they are supposedly to be responsible. Many live on past history, to glorify themselves so as they remain recognise and respected.

Many in the previous MHF regime became "turncoats" and "jumped ship". Substantial numbers survived by being present in the new regime.What is known popularly as the phrase "leopards seldom change their spots", their presences in MHF still reflects some of the past stigma of decay. It was very unfortunate that the TM played it very democratically and did not enter into MHF with a team. Probably, he did not want to split MHF into cliques but rather wanted it "intact". It maybe a sound way of looking at things but does it achieve the desired results?

Today we are ranked 16th in the world i.e one step lower than last year, the Juniors are not going to achieve their target of quarterfinals, thereby probably putting pressure on the position at the Junior World Cup. The "swine fever" has camouflaged the capability of the National Under 18, having withdrawn from their German tournament. The Under 18 performance with Singapore Juniors. considered a minnows hockey nation is not really a reflection of the strength of of our team. German tournament would have shown the true colours.

Therefore, the TM must be aware after 7 months at the helm of MHF, he must realise that overall we are worse of than where we were. This is the plain truth and we cannot deny the fact. I have no doubt that the period is 7 months and it is a short time but looking at how things are progressing there seems to be still darkness at the end of the tunnel. Any rays of hope seem to be withering away.

From the onset I think too much was expected. I have no doubt that as President, the TM is concerned and working hard to get things moving. The problem is the people in MHF, for they lack the Vision, Commitment, Discipline, Endurance and above all the Strength to undertake drastic changes to re engineer MHF with new blood, innovative and capable people with a culture that embodies sporting ideals with corporate and scientific breeding.

Excellence breeds excellence. Unfortunately, TM please look around the people in MHF. Are they of that breed? Barring a very very few people, TM must know that is what is lacking. Proposal have been given to the TM and yet they are allowed to collect dust. Lets get the changes and bring the right sort of people into MHF and rebuild Malaysia into a great hockey nation. TM you can do it and I believe there are many outside who would support you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

An anonymous person's point of view of the "ramblings" in Malaysian hockey.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Hockey gossip - "Prima Donnas among players":

"This is what happens when there in no clear understanding of ROLES within the team and interference from outside parties with vested interest be it individuals/ groups from within MHF /NSC or whosoever.

There has to be transparency in how things are being run / decisions made etc- no hidden agenda only in the best interest of the TEAM.

The question is ?

Are the coaches given full support by personnel around them who know and understand their roles and undivided loyalty and commitment to the NATIONAL HOCKEY TEAM.

Does Beng Hai have the final say and a free hand when it comes to all matters relating to the team - selection of training squad / final team , programs and tours, support personnel,discipline and rewards, substitution in matches, etc.?

Do the other officials - the team manager / support staff realise that they are there to SUPPORT Beng Hai because at the end of the day HE is answerable for the performance and result of the team.

Hence it must be clear that in the Malaysian set up the COACH is effectively the "MANAGER" and the rest have to fall in to support HIM.

The team cannot afford to have too many "experts" trying to call the shots , having separate meetings or sessions without the coaches ok as this undermines the coach and his decisions and in the process confuse the players as to who is the BOSS. Why the secrecy as this create a sense of distrust within the group unless there are other motives.......

More honest and open communication between all parties concern is needed to prevent any split within the team

ps For the records EY is surely not the most successful club - from records it has to be either TNB (Kilat club) or Maybank based on the number of titles won todate.

Although in recent years with the bulk of the national players they have tasted some success winning the double last year incl. the MHL overall title for the first time."

A very interesting comment except the issue of "conflict" was not addressed. I believe that may be the core of the issue. If that matter is overcome and based on the above recommendation, things may return to what it should be. Malaysian hockey may yet prosper.