Monday, September 28, 2009

Coming ! TM's 1st anniversary as President of MHF - "The Wish List" for hockey

Comethe beginning of November 2009, the TM would have completed his 1st year as President of MHF. When he took the helm of MHF, he was considered new to Malaysian hockey. TM had the guts to take the leadership, as MHF was already embroiled in enough issues. Any other newcomer would not want to touch MHF with a "barge pole". Obviously, the TM must have thought he could bring much to Malaysian hockey.

With the arrival of TM's 1st anniversary in MHF, i would like to know if TM has any reservations on the decision he made a year ago, whether he was coaxed or otherwise. Whichever, the protagonists would say that the TM is doing a good job slowly and steadily while the antagonists would believe that Malaysian hockey has got worst by just looking at the performances of the national teams.

As for me, the TM has another year to complete his first period of his 2 year term and I am of the opinion the TM has a Vision and a Mission for hockey. Hopefully the results should materialise before the 2nd anniversary of his leadership and realistically the TM can then be judged as to what he has done for Malaysian hockey.

To be helpful, I am putting forward a "WISH LIST" to the TM in the hope he can incorporate it into his strategy to uplift Malaysian hockey. Some of it the TM may have already thought of and if so it makes all of us as "wise men". The idea is that the list is interrelated and one cannot work without the other.

The Wish List.

1. "Hockey Malaysia"

Set up a corporate structure call "Hockey Malaysia" to take responsibility of the various national teams. This structure includes the players, coaches, team management and other ancillary matters pertaining to the team. It shall be manged by professionals, who would draw up their Plans, strategy and budget including the calender of events for the national teams.

"Hockey Malaysia" must be streamlined similar to Hockey Australia or Hockey New Zealand with a bit of modification to take account of local environment. Here all the teams would have their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and also individual KPIs, which would be roped into their contractual scheme plus remuneration package.

2. Affiliation.

MHF should open their doors for affiliation to Clubs or other organisations like Colleges or Universities who have interest in hockey.

These Clubs should participate in the Malaysian Hockey League(MHL) and also take responsibility to adopt schools or create a prescribed number of talents as part of pre-agreed development programme.

3. State Leagues.

Existing State affiliates need to create their own state leagues which shall be predefined. They too need to develop a prescribed number of talents under the pre-agreed development programme.

4. Failure to perform by States or Clubs.

If Clubs or States fail to fulfill their criteria to remain as members, they should be suspended as affiliates for a period until they have rectified their shortcoming. If the failure persists, then they shall be expelled as affiliates.

5. Tax relief for sporting expenditure.

MHF should discuss with the Malaysian Tax authorities to provide for "double deduction" for tax purposes for expenses incurred in:

  • Participating in the League
  • Providing employment opportunism for sportsmen and coaches
  • Providing education or skills training for the sportsmen
  • For developing talents
  • Sponsorship or Donations for sporting events

Such "double deduction" relief should be allowed to be "rolled over" to be deducted against future profits if there is insufficient profits to set off against in prevailing periods.

6. Foreign Coaches.

The country badly needs a good reputable foreign national coach with a sound track record. We need such a coach so as to built our own portfolio of coaches who can benefit from the wealth of experience from such a coach.

Equally we need a good foreign national development coach with an impeccable record to formulate and implement a development and talent programme so as it becomes the "supply chain" to the national teams.

7. Local Coaches.

Malaysian local coaches must be sent to upgrade their skills particularly the FIH Coaching certificates including the master coach category.

At the same time some of our coaches must also be seconded to various foreign national sports institutes or other national teams to gain the relevant experience and have first knowledge of competition.

8. Malaysian Hockey League (MHL).

Once the doors of affiliation is open and the tax relief is put in place plus with the right prize money, MHF should be able to market its MHL Indeed teams from Singapore could also participate , thereby broadening the competition.

To do all these MHF has to market its product, and effective selling is the key issue.

The "Wish List" only outlines 8 items but they are elaborate enough to bring significant changes in the Malaysian hockey environment. In essence all the matters listed are nothing new and probably has been thought but there was nobody with the "will" to implement it. TM has this opportunity and if done, this legacy of TM would take Malaysia into another paradigm ie putting us into the foundation to create World Champions.

So TM, why not set the pace to fulfill the "Wish List" before your 2nd anniversary as President of MHF. If so, history would recognise TM's significant contribution to Malaysian hockey.

Friday, September 25, 2009

EY's pullout - "Would it cripple MHL?"

EY's pullout has been making its news over the last 2 weeks but nobody took it serious. In the past few years such stories were a regular feature before the MHL but it was always only a rumour. Those who speak about such matters are well aware of the moaning and groaning that is heard of the difficulties involved in managing the team. To many it was a matter of time frustration would creep in as the financial rewards are not there in participating in MHL. Therefore having a team in MHL is a "cost center" and not a "profit center".

Many take it as part of advertising costs because of the publicity or just as part of corporate & social responsibility. Most teams at the Premier League would have to spend a minimum of RM $300,000 to RM $450,000 per year. EY is at much higher scale and the figure could be between RM $800.000 to RM $1,000,000. It essentially depends on how much the players are paid, their allowances and for what period. In the case of EY most of the key national players with them are paid RM $2000 to RM $3000 for a period of an year. This is notwithstanding the fact that the MHL maybe for a period of 8 to 10 weeks.

The price money in MHL is nothing exciting for the maximum a team could earn is RM $40,000 ie if they carry the double. So realistically it does not make monetary sense to participate in the MHL Maybe, it is for the love of hockey? Even so, with that sort of money you can fly all over the world to see good hockey. Otherwise it is the price you pay to display good managerial skills of managing successful hockey teams. Whatever it maybe the point is that players have other sources of income ie from the clubs to supplement their earnings and that in a way is good for hockey.

Therefore if any team pulls out of the MHL it means that there is less places but more players thereby creating greater competition for places. Based on excess supply and lower demand, it could push the salaries on a downward trend. This may have an impact on the overall earnings of players. This rule may not affect the senior and exceptionally good players as they would always carry a premium.

Pulling out may also mean one less team in the league. However on the other side with more available players in the market this may entice newcomers into the league, who previously could not find the players. More so with EY's pullout, as the monopoly of having at least 20 National players both seniors and juniors would now be broken. With EY's threat profile as potential champion out of the door, it would open a more balance and even competition.

Effectively EY's pullout maybe a blessing in disguise and may do greater justice to Malaysian hockey. There is no doubt that a well managed team with a good coach would be missing from the future Malaysian hockey annals. Nevertheless EY's manager is now the national team manager while its coach is with the Project 2013 team. At least with the success they brought to EY, they are going places and that itself becomes a good showpiece.

My only concern is the question regarding EY's players. Most of them are on contract and yet the EY manager in announcing the pullout seem reluctant to release his players until after the World Cup qualifiers. This is something i am unable to comprehend as the MHL is to begin after the qualifiers. Maybe because the players are on contract with EY, he can still call the "shots" with them for the qualifiers as their national manager. Although there are other rumours including that the players in toto may play for another new team, which may have association to the current EY manager. Whatever it maybe, i think the "hide & seek" that is coming out of this latest scenario may not do justice to the national team manager.

All in all, it is sad EY wants to pullout of the MHL but it would not have a devastating impact. If any, it may help to bring a sense of sanity to the league by removing the monopolistic control of national players. We would probably have a balance and an even competitive league which could create an healthy environment.

MHF's attitude of importance for National Team would devalue Malaysian Hockey League.

The Malaysian national team has become so important that all other events that may involve senior national players take a secondary position. The Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) was delayed taking account of the national team's preparation for Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy, Asia Cup and lately the FIH Champion Challenge II tournament in Dublin. That had been the priority and everything else came to a standstill, save for the Razak Cup, even then the national team was on tour. A very unique arrangement.

Today MHF is at dilemma with the World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand in November. Prior to that date there is no local activities for the national players to be engaged in, as all tournaments where they could participate is literally postponed to after the qualifier. This special breed of players and their officials including those in MHF cannot be disturbed from their sole focus ie the Qualifiers.

At least that is the perception that is being created. Time and time again this argument from the past has shown that it is a "fallacy". Time and time again as the rest of hockey remains "stagnant" in the country when the national team is in centralised training, our special breed of players to whom so much importance is placed, does not seem to reciprocate the so called unique arrangements. If any, all that is being done is our World ranking is continuously slipping and pretty fast too.

One area i got to give credit of late is that MHF seem to have developed a bit of foresight. Mind you they have started to contemplate what happens if Malaysia qualifies for the World Cup at New Delhi in February 2010. It is an outside chance but yet they are concerned if the reality prevails. Guess what? The 1st casualty would be the MHL, which is scheduled to be held in November 2009 after the qualifiers. One suggestion is to have the 2009 MHL after the World Cup probably in 2010. The reason being this special breed of players yet again need to focus for the World Cup without any distractions. Not that they do not have any distractions now, from partying to heavy consumption of alcohol to returning wee hours of the morning. All these are done while they are at centralised training and possibly on "off days" when they need to recover.

So why all the fuss? Malaysia is probably the only country in world hockey that goes into such extremes including postponing its NATIONAL LEAGUE. Yes! we want to make life easier and simpler for our players but all we do is to encourage their mind to become weaker, such that they are unable to take on the pressure both in and out of the field. How than do we expect Malaysia to take on the world when we pamper our players to such a state.

I do strongly suggest to our coaches and team management to revisit the various video recordings and find out how often the team "cracks" and allows the goals when they are under constant pressure. That statistics would show you the clueless nature of our players under stress conditions. They are like that because of what MHF has done and is still doing ie giving them everything at the expense of the rest in Malaysian hockey. All we get is weak minded players who do not know how to react to various scenarios in the field, as they do not have the experience to face the real life situations. In short they live in a "made believe world".

Many in MHF may not understand this, as none of their elected office bearers have played or coached national hockey or for that matter state hockey or even state hockey league. So the decision makers may not be fully appreciated of the scenarios outlined. They obviously want to give the best to the players in the hope the players would reciprocate with the best too. It has not worked out that way and it is not going to work in the future too. Revisit and study as there are enough empirical evidence to state that a change in our approaches is required. Do not remain "stagnant" or not we would just be "sucked" in with failures that we would be in an irreparable position in world hockey. Please MHF do something urgently and constructive !!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The "ghost" of Malaysian hockey's "match fixing" allegation is still lingering around.

Well over a year and a half, there were sufficient media report on the allegation of match fixing. MHF made a police report and apparently nothing came out of it. Nothing further was done and once again it was hoped that the memories of such allegations would fade away. The media especially the Malay Mail periodically raised the issue but MHF did nothing to bring the matter to closure.

Such being the status it is still much talked about matter in various circles of the hockey fraternity. When certain names are mentioned, swiftly "match fixing" through betting becomes the conversation. It is sad for the situation to have come to this position and the reason being the hockey authorities have permitted it. If the players know about it, it must be torturous particularly if they are innocent of the allegations.

Indeed the matter came to its climax at the Champions Challenge II at Dublin where the national hockey team came 4th. Rumours seem to indicate that Malaysia could have done better but strangely certain players missed open chances to score. It is further rumoured that video replays seem certain to reflect such negative intentions. Sometimes there is a fixation because of the "ghosts" on match fixing that is haunting us and therefore such conclusions are easily derived.

The "ghosts" would not have existed if MHf had moved aggressively at the height of the problem and investigated the matter. Their act of omission by not setting up a Committee has permitted the matter to linger and destroy both the credibility of innocent players and Malaysian hockey itself. Why did MHF not undertake such an investigation is "mind blogging". The legal presumption of innocence until proven otherwise seem not to hold because MHF had not brought the matter to closure.

Had MHF conducted the investigation and come to the necessary conclusions the matter would have "rested" in some ways. MHF's failure has put unnecessary pressure on players and literally when they make genuine mistakes in the field they would be accused as part of a conspiracy of "match fixing". That is the dilemma MHF has left Malaysian hockey today.

It is now an "open secret" that as selection for the World Cup qualifiers takes place, certain names would draw unusual comments from hockey lovers. It is a pity for such players and also the officials because there is no proof or evidence of conclusions to omit such players. Selecting them only raises the doubts especially when they mess up their play in the qualifiers. The lingering doubts may yet again come to haunt Malaysian hockey. Yet! the dismal performance could really be part of an innocent"off day" for the player. It is a dilemma that was allowed to be perpetuated by MHF themselves and they would have to live with their act of omission while Malaysian hockey maybe the ultimate loser.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The F1 debate on Malaysia's entry.

Last Tuesday, the PM announced the 1Malaysia F1 Team, to participate in the F1 races from 2010. It had caught many of us by surprise as this is a big big matter, committing the country for years to come. Malaysia in its own style previously had made in-roads to the F1 through Petronas, Minardi and in some ways lately, Air Asia. All these were only pieces of the action but not a lead role.

This announcement does not "leap frog" us, rather it is a quantum leap into the F1 races. This is not small bucks and the expected costs is around RM 1.0 billion per year. There is no doubt that the figure is going to make everyone open all their "senses" and permit their mind to go into "mental gymnastics". Many questions would race through everyone minds and most would be "dumb founded" with the cost elements.

As the PM announced, this is a joint public -private sector collaboration with the national car manufacturer Proton, playing a major role through its Lotus outfit. Lotus is a known name in the racing world for decades and therefore their experience should hold the 1Malaysia F1 Team in steadfast. With Air Asia's Tony Fernandes as the principal officer for the Team, the PM has obviously recognised Tony's track record to head such a glamorous project. Mind you Tony is probably the "king" for the "branding" business. Air Asia and its various Tunes outfits are a manifestation of Tony's acumen in such competitive environment. The F1 is probably that sort of arena and there cannot be a better person than Tony.

Admittedly, the cost is high and there is always the question whether Malaysia can afford such a venture. More so as some of the reputed car manufacturers are also pulling off the F1 races. Firstly, the fearful would never take the risk and therefore progress shall never be seen. Of course the mad would just dive in and waste the funds. That may be true but the people behind 1Malaysia F1 Team are no small names and they on their own right have made the "impossible possible".

Further and logically this is the best time to get in especially when there already exists vacancies. One must grab the opportunities when they arise and this opportunity was staring in Malaysia's eyes. It is important that we should not sit on our laurels just because Malaysia already has the Sepang Circuit and the F1 race. To enhance Malaysia's long term sustainability of ensuring we remain hosts to F1 races, the 1Malaysia F1 Team in way guarantees our continuous involvement. This is essentially is a strategic move combined with forward thinking.

Strategic move and forward thinking has come into play with the idea of developing Sepang to be the ultimate home base for 1Malaysia F1 Team. This Vision cannot be disputed as it becomes the foundation of developing Malaysians to all the related skills in the automobile industry. In the initial years we started as assemblers, then making cars and now through the 1Malaysia F1 Team we are upgrading our skills by leaps and bounds to the ultimate in the motor industry. That itself is a price but it sets the country and its future vehicles in good position into the export market. The journey is not easy but yet ours is a young society and with the such an opportunity we should succeed.

It is no more a dream, rather a fact that it is going to happen. It is how our young Malaysians are going to position themselves as potential drivers, engineers, research experts, safety personnel, mechanics to the marketing boys. We shall be grooming another set of people into a new arena that is so glamorous that everyone wants to be part of it.

I did not write of the obvious benefits from tourism to marketing the country as they are known facts. The F1 team would put the "multiplier" effect even at a higher scale to all sorts of other things including more variety of motor races. In all these it is the Malaysian brand that is ultimately going to sell. This F1 team would put Malaysia on the map like Air Asia as another lead brand thereby setting all other brands from Malaysia to be easily recognisable and acceptable.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Malaysian cricket played by a small number and represented by a minority Exco.

MCA, at its last BGM, went through a challenging election and some clever voting styles got a hybrid of candidates from different camps elected. It should have represented a "unity" committee but the events of the past few weeks seem to represent otherwise.

The President of MCA quite easily retained his post in the election and the MCA is still his base for his positions in OCM and ACC. His services are extended to international sports bodies and that keeps him preoccupied. He has made his mark as a world renowned sports administrator.

This does not give him much time for MCA and as such the Deputy President and the Secretary have effectively taken control of day to day matters in MCA. In a short period these 2 have created a bit of commotion, firstly with the resignation of the local national coach and thereafter culminating with the resignation of the Vice President and an Exco member.

The resignations have attracted sufficient attention. On the local national coach, the Deputy President and the Secretary were literally "mucking" around and time delaying the announcement if he was travelling with the team to Singapore. The idea was to get the Trainer to go with the rest of the official entourage and by playing the delaying game they were hoping the coach would not get his leave from the public health sector. Their game plan backfired, as the local coach, in disgust, tended his resignation with a sarcastic comment to MCA to hire more foreign coaches. The silly thing here was no one was honest enough to tell the coach the truth.

As for the Vice President, he had been given the task to implement an ICC-ACC directive of setting up a structure for Malaysian cricket funded by them. This is to be headed by a CEO with certain other key positions also to be filled by appropriate candidates. The matter was discussed at the Council and the Vice President went about diligently to undertake the task. The Secretary, caught with protocol and bureaucratic thinking, made attempts to derail the interview process that was organised by the Vice President. Frustration had set in and a good number of colourful written communications were flying around including to the Affiliates, with each party addressing their case. This surely reflects the powers at play and the Vice President did the rightful thing and resigned. Following suit was also an Exco member.

Ironically, in all these Malaysian cricket suffers. The national team is now without a coach as their foreign coach has finished a financially rewarding stint. The structure to be put in place as required by ICC- ACC is stalled, permitting various vested parties to promote their candidates. Time would definitely point us to the truth and until then lets hold our comments.

As for MCA, with the demise of Affendi Stephens, the Exco stood at 9. Now with the resignation of these 2, it is further reduced to 7. In the meantime, one of the architects of the hybrid voting in the election who got elected as an Exco member has not attended a single meeting since that eventful day. Therefore there is only effectively a 6 man Exco and if the President is only granted a casting vote then the whole Malaysian cricket rests with 5 people. It only takes 3 to win an issue and as Malaysian cricket is played by a small number of people, it is reflective of the minority Exco. What a sad state of affairs Malaysian cricket has got into.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Changes required in hockey or not MHF may itself become a "MUSEUM".

Hockey players retire maybe because of age or injury or in disgust when they are dropped or disciplined or for other reasons best known to them. While that is an issue especially if one can still significantly contribute to the team, on the other hand a player who has passed his best still wants to remain in the team. The issue attracts its fair share of debate as many vested parties seem to canvas for support to ensure the player is retained. This obviously creates some problems with the coaches as the player concerned is not in their game plan including for various other issues too. A dilemma that seem to be troubling Malaysian hockey today.

Fundamental is that we must have players who have the passion to play and don national colours. Much too often players on achieving national status are being guaranteed of fixed salaries and allowances, thereby losing their hunger to perform. Of course there are exceptions but in the main it is otherwise. Whether a player achieves 50 caps or 100 caps or 150 caps, they are assured of their salaries, allowances and accommodation. Therefore, what is there to be worried unless the player is a "borderline" status national player.

To top all of these the national players also draw salaries from their clubs. Most endeavour to get paid for the year although the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) is probably for only 2 months. On the higher scale the players can get around RM$3000 per month and on the average between RM$1500 to RM$2500 per month. On top of it they do get their training allowance too.

A senior national player would earn around RM$5000 to RM$5500 per month if his national and club salaries are combined. This earnings would be higher if the allowances are also included. This is an attractive package but it must be recognised that to be a senior player one has to go through the time span and earn a sizable number of caps. Added to this it must be understood that a national player would probably serve the national team at the higher end about 15 years but on the average 12 years. It is imperative that the player carefully manages his monies to cater for the day he "hangs up" his stick.

Indeed, some of these players play in foreign countries as the respective leagues pay good monies. Countries like Germany, Holland, New Zealand, Australia, England, France and Singapore are good hunting grounds to earn the rewards. What is important is that these players need the clearance of the national body before they embark on their journey

Essentially the major paradigm shift between yesteryears players and today's players, is the issue of employment and earnings. Previously most of them were employed and received their salaries from their employers namely then as LLN, PKNS, Police, Armed Forces, RRI and so forth. They are given paid leave for periodic centralised training and are reimbursed transport claims plus given dormitory accommodation. The yesteryear's national players had to pay part of the expenses for various overseas tours or tournaments. Further, in most instance they played for their employers in the local state leagues and as such there was no "side income".

The paradox on all these is that yesterdays players had the passion and the mental courage to take on the world's bests. Today's players have all the things going for them, yet their performance does not reflect the luxuries they are showered. The question is why such a dilemma? The reason may rest with the approach of MHF and NSC ie in "over pampering" the players. They have not created a "performance" related remuneration package from training to game play to recovery from injury. If this is done, it keeps the players "on their toes" and permits them to start adopting to the various stress levels which becomes a mental strength training.

The issue is both NSC and MHF wants to make life easier and simpler for players, so as they can concentrate on the game. This somehow has backfired. Indeed if any being full-time players have given more free time and this itself encourages indulgences to the various vices. Time and time again the issues have surface but neither NSC nor MHF have chosen to address it. Like many things, it is all swept under the carpet with the hope things would sort itself.

Sadly, it has not worked that way. Time and time again NSC and MHF have to be reminded that hockey cannot go on as it as being done year after year. Things must change as everything else has changed or is changing. NSC and MHF cannot remain stagnant while the hockey environment changes. It has to start from NSC and MHF from the officers to the Affiliates to the Master Plan based on Strategic Planning ( if they have one) to the spirit of excellence which has to be embedded with the coaches, who in turn must indoctrinate it to the players of the present and future.

For all these to be done. MHF has to have the right people in the right positions. This can only be done if the "doors" of MHF are open beyond the current "status quo". This strangely, MHF is frighten to undertake for probably they do not want to upset the Affiliates, who tend to move if any at "bullock cart" pace. Indeed the "bullock cart" is so antiquated that it is a museum piece and if MHF does not change, it shall itself become a MUSEUM.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What is happening in MCA ?

I received a comment as printed below for my article on the local coach. The comment brings another dimension of what is happening in MCA particularly on the ground. How on God's name can the national cricket team management make such a blatant calculative error in Singapore. Please read and appreciate why Malaysian cricket is in such a diabolical state.

"Most of us who are following cricket or who plays cricket knows who you are referring to. I am a big fan of Mr. Kajang. He has been a servant to Malaysian cricket. He has produced a couple of good players. He has dedicated most of his time for cricket. I am happy he has left MCA. MCA has taken him for a ride. Mr. Kajang, it is not your lost, but their lost. Keep up the great work and I hope you produce more good cricketers.

MCA will never change. Everybody has their own agenda and vested interest in MCA.
“If what I heard is facts then all I can say is good luck to Malaysian cricket” – Malaysian Cricket is gone, they don’t need any luck. Cricket in Malaysia has gone to the worst possible level ever, both management & standard wise.

On a different note, what happen to our Malaysian team in Singapore?? Firstly, the management (Manager, Coach & Captain) has to be questioned. How can you miss calculate and get the wrong message across the players. Before going in to the last group match against Singapore, we were 2 points ahead of Bahrain and our run rate was higher then Bahrain making us 2nd on position.
The message was, Malaysia are guaranteed a place in Div 5 even if we loose of next match to Singapore and although Bahrain wins, they need a big score of over 400 runs to over take Malaysia. It was also said that the calculation was done and it was the correct calculation by the organizing competition.

At the end who makes it to Div 5!!!!! We lost, Bahrain scored 300 runs and they went through. We rested 3 of our main players for the last game against Singapore, thinking that we have already qualified for Div 5. Such a shame. We ended up number 4 out 6. Shame on you, Coach , Manager & Captain – what were you thinking?? You just lost us a place in Div 5. Now we can wait till 2012 for the next ICC tournament.

Questions must be asked!

Probably, they should have taken a mathematician and not a coach or manager. Or probably the Manager should have bought a calculator with him rather then cigarettes!!! "

If MCA gets involved in playing around with emotions of people then what happened in Singapore is probably a reciprocal action by "forces" to warn MCA to be careful in the future.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Malaysian cricket officials seem to have lost the "human" touch in handling their local coach.

I was at a "water hole" over the weekend and I had the opportunity to listen to some discussions pertaining to Malaysian cricket. Obviously most of it was related to Malaysian Cricket Association's (MCA) President and how he does not have the time for MCA because of all his other commitments. The other interesting aspect of the discussion was relating to the Deputy President and the Secretary. I must tell you that there were not many kind things mentioned. If what I heard is facts then all I can say is good luck to Malaysian cricket

The discussion that caught my attention relates to a local national coach who had been involved with the national team since the Commonwealth Games in 1998. Apparently, he is from Kajang and has a close relationship with most of the players. Many cannot understand how over the years he has been bullied by being pushed around with pathetic allowances. Indeed what I noted was what he had been receiving a daily attendance allowance which principally pays for his transport, toll charges and maybe a light refreshment. From what I gathered from the conversation is that his love for the game and his close relationship with the players makes him overlook some of shortcomings in MCA.

This is the sort of treatment MCA shoves down on him and yet when there are overseas coaches they are paid highly, including a car. Yet i understand this local coach is the one who has to run around getting things organised. The conversation seem to indicate that he is the first one to be at training and the last one to leave. Indeed this current national coach who originates from Calcutta is here on a short stint and wants punctuality and yet he is usually late to the ground.

The "water hole" gossip made me to do some further digging and what comes out of all these is "connections". The foreign coach from Calcutta came as a recommendation from a known foreign doctor who is involved with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). A regular visitor to Malaysia and is close to 2 Malaysian doctors who are also connected to Malaysian cricket. One of them is the Deputy President of MCA and the foreign doctor is usually a guest at the Deputy President's house when he is in town. There is nothing wrong with such connection or relationship so long as there is fairness in decision making.

What makes the story interesting is that with the H1N1 becoming a concern in the nation, the local coach had to find a way to balance his official work, coaching and family life. The difficulty was trying to get leave or time off as he was involved in the public health sector. Notwithstanding all these he made a lot of arrangements and adjustments to be present at training by doing the late night to morning shifts. This was the sort of sacrifice he was undertaking and yet he was always not accorded the right treatment by MCA. Apparently he takes a submissive nature with people in authority and seem to be bullied, thereby losing his basic rights. Apparently he is not one of those who goes around fighting for his rights.

People too have their limits. This time the Deputy President, Secretary and Executive Secretary joint procrastination on the question of when the local coach should take his leave to be with the national team for the tournament in Singapore commencing in 3rd week of August, saw the emotional eruption of a magnitude that these office bearers would not have 2nd guessed. The local coach after nearly 11 years of being pushed around by MCA resigned from his position in writing. The outburst was best seen in his letter where he recommended sarcastically to MCA to get as many foreign coaches for the national team. Indeed MCA sources indicate that the Executive Secretary wanted that paragraph to be removed from the letter.

According to sources these 3 office bearers do not have a "tuppence" of respect for this local coach. Whatever he requests or wants is taken lightly or delayed as much as possible with the silliest of excuses. This poor coach probably had to pent up his frustration for years and then decided to release it like an earthquake of a certain magnitude in the Richter scale.

It is sad these things take place specially among learnt people. If what has been told reflects the true situation then i must say that the President has to act fast. This sort of nonsense has to stop or not dedicated people would not want to play a part in cricket. Why be tortured by office bearers when one wants to help. Sometimes people believe they have power vested in them and therefore in a selfish way may want others to beg for their rights. If sports has to flourish such things must stop and the President of MCA has a greater responsibility for he also sits as President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM). He cannot close his eyes on such matters.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Part 2, Case Study: NSC - MHF relationship

The article on Thursday, 3rd September, is with reference to NSC and NSAs with regards to creating a "dependable" syndrome and a parasitic relationship. I am going to use Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) as my case study.

I am writing this article not to take "pot shots" at any institution or parties but rather as a means of highlighting matters with the sole intention that sports in Malaysia can flourish with the right people built on a fair system of check and balance. The principal idea is to ensure that the Malaysian flag is proudly hoisted victoriously in various sporting arenas round the world, displaying what a great nation of sports we are.

As for hockey, in the 50s and 60s, during the days of the late Tun Abdul Razak at the helm of MHF, the players and the sports administrators did not have the luxuries that are bestowed to the current generation. Those days they had to find their own funds ie the NSA and the players ,to go on overseas tournaments. They were not paid a salary to be national players rather had to ride on a job they held to survive. This meant they had to balance between work, house, social life and hockey. This probably gave the players of yesterday the mental strength to take on severe challenges in the field in view of continuous pressure they had to surmount in their daily life.

What was interesting is that many survived including receiving their promotions in their jobs and above all performing excellently in the field by ensuring Malaysia was a formidable force in world hockey. The paradox to all these is that they did not have the luxury of a NSC then and the sheer agony plus preoccupation of trying to balance every aspect of their life, gave them the determination to succeed. Succeed they did and looking at the Malaysian hockey stars of yesterday, i can only salute and speak proudly of them for what they have achieved despite the lack of all the current luxuries.To complement the players were dedicated sports administrators who continuously stretched their hands with begging bowls to help the sports. Many even went to the extent of using their own resources to keep things moving. These were the UNSUNG HEROES of Malaysian hockey.

Fast tracking to present day and the presence of NSC and their generosity, it would seem hockey seems to accrue a number of benefits. Today NSC pays for the following:
  1. Coaches and Assistant Coaches of the various national teams.
  2. Players
  3. General Manager of MHF
  4. Certain staffs of MHF
  5. Allowances for certain officials
  6. Development costs like Sukan Teras

Added to all these they top it with the following:

  1. Masseurs
  2. Consultants
  3. Video expertise
  4. Accommodation for players

This is further supplemented with:

  1. Gym coach
  2. Dietitian
  3. Cooks for vital tournaments
  4. Doctors
  5. Assistance for seminars related to coaches

This does not end the assistance programme as NSC also pays for the following too:

  1. Overseas tours ie "warm up" or test matches.
  2. Overseas tournaments.

Finally it is known that international tournaments organised locally is also subsidised by NSC.

In a nutshell, NSC has become the major "stakeholder" of Malaysian hockey as they are still investing in the game. Many in NSC past and present officers have a strong passion to see that Malaysia succeeds internationally. The level of their commitment goes further as NSC officers attend MHF Management Meeting, Council Meeting, Team Management Committee and the Consultative Committee.

This is a reflection of the level of NSC's commitment to ensure hockey succeeds. Nobody can deny the significant role NSC has played in Malaysian hockey and how they have brought a better quality of life to players, officials and fans.

Unfortunately all the good deeds of NSC has created a scenario where players and sports administrators have taken matters for granted. While life has become easier and simpler by what NSC is undertaking, rather than focusing on achieving targets in the field, most of the players and sports administrators have become lazy. They have now taken an outlook as "day follows night and night follows day", whatever that does or does not happen NSC is there to salvage the situation. An example is best seen in the bidding and organising of the Junior World Cup 2009.

The generosity of NSC seems to indicate that they have a 'bottomless pit". The resources they have put into hockey and the "returns" in terms of results particularly the last 6 years, would give the impression that they are a "bad" investor. Malaysia has performed badly ie failure to qualify for 2 Olympics, 1 World Cup, disastrous Asian Games placing and lack of improvement at Junior level , highlights the malaise in hockey.

A classic example is the existence of a German coach who had served as a coach or consultant for a cumulative period of nearly 13 years with the Malaysian team. Initially he had produced results with the national team but as the years went by he did not develop the next generation of talents Further his style has put Malaysian hockey "back" by a few years. Yet! NSC is so taken by him that MHF just follow suit. Part of our problem is MHF leaves it to NSC while NSC leaves it to MHF , a net result nobody provides the "check or balance". Each believing that the other would undertake the needful action. This permitted things to slide, which is representative of today's decline, the manifestation of cumulative years of unsupervised and unaccountable actions. In short, there was no Master Plan and if there was one it probably had unrealistic targets, which nobody was responsible for measuring.

NSC's actions are meant well except they have made life that much easier that players and administrators just curled the other way and have become lazier. Whether players perform or not they are guaranteed their salary and allowances. Officials know that so long NSC remains committed to hockey, they have nothing much to do. In fact NSC does most of the work for them and this permits them to just warm their chairs and spent time politicking. The relationship between NSC and MHF is so intertwined that at any one time it is difficult to know the role of one another. It makes it look like NSC is MHF and in a way MHF is part of NSC. Once these distinct lines get confused, everything becomes "boleh lah" and of "kawan kawan" attitude. The "check and balance" system collapses and ultimately the standard of hockey does too.

This is where NSC has to review their position and retain a high degree of independence and professionalism from MHF, to ensure that the resources they have invested provides the targeted returns. NSC should not provide unlimited funds for players, coaches, tours and MHF itself. They have to adopt "a carrot and stick" approach, which must be based on strategy plans driven by performance targets. This should work with the various national teams right down to developing talents.

NSC has to change its approach drastically while MHF has to re-engineer itself and bring in the right people for the right position. If these do not happen, we might as well just enjoy the "history" of our past success in Malaysian hockey. That is probably the best we can hope for in hockey.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

NSC's generosity to most NSAs seems to create a "dependable" syndrome tantamounting to a "parasitic" relationship - Part 1.

In the early 1970s, when the Sports Division of the then Ministry of Sports, Youth & Culture was contemplating the setting up of the National Sports Council (NSC), their principal focus was the upliftment of sports in the country by providing assistance or undertaking programmes with the intention of popularising sports and thereby making life easier and simpler for sportsmen, officials, and administrators. The Sports Planners then were mainly former Olympians, renowned coaches, dedicated teachers and of course the far sighted civil servants, who in their sporting days went through trying times including spending their own monies and taking their own holidays or having "no paid" leave to don the national or state colours. It was this level of sacrifices that the Planners had undergone which made them to commit that the future generation of sportsman and officials would not go through or face such struggles as they had to face. A genuine desire to have an outfit that serves sports in a meaningful manner that permits sportsmen to concentrate on sports rather than be distracted with the other "bread & butter" issues.

This saw the birth of the National Sports Council (NSC) and the core team involved on the day to day aspects of its operations were made up of the same people who had the "heart" for sports and above all who had gone through the "mill" as Olympians, successful coaches or dedicated government servants with sporting background. It was a welcome change and there was a minimum of problems because everybody spoke a common language ie sports. NSC was endeavouring to facilitate life for sportsmen and their National Sports Associations (NSAs), thereby addressing various pertinent issues that improved the all round quality.

In those days NSC was very thoughtful and purposeful. Monies were spend on worthy causes. It was not only quantity they were interested in but also quality. They could not be pressurised to part with resources unless there was a justifying need. They remained steadfast to their Vision and their Objectives. For many years they were proud that their reserve funds of RM$300m remained intact until a Sports Minister (now not in Cabinet) in her tenure utilised most of it. Unfortunately there was nothing much in terms of results for us to feel proud about. It seems to reflect wasteful of resources.

While that may in some ways curtail the extent of help NSC can extend, still NSC endeavours to aid and abet the sporting front. They are ever ready to be of assistance either in a small or big way depending on the sports, its success rate and of course the people behind it.

The original modus operandi of NSC was to act as a "bridge"for the NSAs and to assist them in developing the sports for which they are responsible. All these worked well when you had dedicated and passionate officials who had the best interest of the sports. With time NSAs had more politicians and royalties to helm them and the scramble for other positions in NSAs became an interesting development. More importantly many got involved to rub shoulders and have accessibility to the politicians and royalties. These therefore provided a shift in approach as NSC got directly involved with the day to day affairs of NSAs.

Some believe this may be justifiable as they find NSAs failure in developing sports and there also seems to be too much politicking. NSC became the saviour of the sports by applying the "stevedore" principle in getting things done. Sometimes to a point where people wonder if NSC literally runs the NSA. Maybe NSC's seemly intervention is all about saving the sports and they may be absolutely right.

On the other hand, it is only going to perpetuate a scenario where elected officials just sit and warm their chairs and allow NSC to pump the funds and get things done. Of course there are some elected officials who use their position in corporate organisation to sponsor events. Beyond that their participation is very nominal. Effectively this makes some of the NSAs lazy and the same is followed suit by their Affiliates. End of it we have elected officials in name but the major decisions and funding comes from NSC.

The good thing about all this is that the sports survives at least in the short term but in the long term we are not encouraging the creation of talents and passionate officials by the relevant NSAs. NSC now finds it difficult as their old Olympians, renowned coaches and dedicated civil servants had to make way to a new batch of officials. They are not the breed who had gone through the "mill" as the previous lot and they see things differently. They want quick results for the money they spend on the sport. So hiring and firing is a normal phenomenon in the new modus operandi of NSC. Although they may not be directly involved, it is their money and somewhere in the hazy situation of the NSA they have a major positional play.

People may choose to praise or be critical of NSC, but effectively they remain the guardian of Malaysian sports. They have a role and sometimes the failure of some of the NSAs permits the NSAs to become "parasites" to the generosity of NSC. In permitting this NSC must also realise that they are encouraging these NSAs to become lazy and thereby killing the future of that NSA plus its sports. They have to carefully decide which is the best approach or not it would seem some of the NSAs may become an extended part of NSC.

Part 2 shall be a brief case study.