Nur Insafi, a hockey team from Penang, has been a participant in the national hockey and still remains an enigma to Malaysian hockey. This season they have secured the services of nearly 15 foreign players and are spending anywhere between RM 300,000 to RM 500,000 to win a title where the price money is only RM 30,000. This mysterious thinking rests in the mind of the "altar ego" of the club, who is their manager.
It is said that he has love for hockey that is 2nd to none. As a result of this he is prepared to spend the money to achieve the desired objective. He seems to have the same thinking as another "financier" of the game from a known hockey club. I must state that these people are great "devotees" of the game. The similarities run parallel including spending the monies to gain success. This means they fill the team with foreign players or national players to have easy access to the title.
Surely, that cannot be wrong. After all, it is their hard earned funds and they must have the liberty to do what they feel is good for the club and themselves. If any, it is entirely their choice except for the stakeholders of the clubs, they are free from being questioned. Can you imagine if these 2 clubs do not exist then there would have been only 4 teams in the MHL. What a disaster it would have been for Malaysian hockey.
Having said that unfortunately Nur Insafi did not fare well in the MHL. The pre-publicity for the team and in particular the foreign players gave the impression that they would be a force in the league. Some argue that the team did not have time to get the players to know one another and therefore they could not operate as a team. Others believe the so called foreign "stars" may not be the "better" stars or they are just "over the hill" so to say.
The disappointing performance of Nur Insafi was compounded by the team manager's outburst on the quality of umpiring plus nature's intervention with rain during their games. Apparently these 2 aspects had an impact on the team's performance. There is no doubt that the standard of umpiring in the MHL can be questionable but talking about the rain can be mind boggling.
What is surprising is that there were no formal complaints on the umpires other than what was rumoured of the team management having had "verbal diarrhea" with the umpires after the games. Again the umpires did not lodge any report nor did the technical members who were present at the incidences. Maybe the "heat" of the moment provided such a "knee jerk" reaction and as the "heat" subsided, everyone went their own way. So why make a big fuss over momentary reactions. In the best of sporting spirits it facilitated the self-made compromises which is a "fine art" and we all have become experts.
Of course Nur Insafi's public outcry is also a manifestation of the frustration that they are undergoing particularly on the level of resources they have invested on the team. The "returns" based on performance at the field, does not justify the investment. Reasons had to be found to mitigate these shortcomings. The umpires are an easy target and sometimes they themselves invite becoming the reasons when they do not display the standards expected of "class" umpires.
The fact that everybody remains silent of the onslaught on umpires without any reviews or investigation literally means that the matter is being swept under the carpet. Unfortunately it becomes a precedent where there has not been a resolution and the "ghost" of such matters may come to haunt MHF. As to how they are going to react in the future is a question mark.
The irritation to Nur Insafi did not end there. The MHL has now come to a "knockout" stage and based on 3 meetings of which Nur Insafi was present in 1, the teams had agreed that the knockout stage shall be played at the Klang Valley only. Obviously. Nur Insafi was the only team outside the Klang Valley and probably no special attention was paid to their requirements. What makes it intriguing is Nur Insafi themselves did not at an early stage request for home and away games nor protest on the requirement to play only in the Klang Valley.
Lately, Nur Insafi again grabbed the media attention on the "unfairness" of having to play the matches in Kuala Lumpur. It is probable that at this time, as the teams take stock of their expenditure, they may realise that they are getting "thin" on available funds and every cent begins to count. Therefore the cost of travel and accommodation can be an unplanned expenditure for some of the teams and can become a costly factor. Costs plus the issue of losing home ground advantage probably got Nur Insafi further irritated, which was compounded with the previous issues that were swept under the carpet. Nur Insafi probably felt that they were being unfairly treated.
Meantime and unexpectedly, probably in the best interest of hockey, MHF turned to Sapura the opponents of Nur Insafi to determine if they were prepared to play in Penang on a home and away basis to accommodate Nur Insafi's predicament. Sapura too had something to vent and apparently according to sources from Sapura they had submitted a long letter of disapproval to deviate from the scheduled programme as already outlined by the Competition Committee. In their letter there were other issues that surfaced which seem to reflect that the matters were not as simple as it seemed. Maybe part of the problem could also be that Sapura lost the last game of the league to Nur Insafi.
More twists and turns were taking place as the principle of "accommodating" Nur Insafi came into play. MHF was unable to do much as Sapura was sticking by the original decision of only playing in the Klang Valley. This did not leave much room for Nur Insafi and therefore they decided to go through with their threat to withdraw. Their formal communication was endorsed by the Technical Committee thereby giving Sapura a direct entry to the semi-finals. This caught Nur Insafi "offguard" as they must have presumed such drastic action would not have been forthcoming.
The "mystery" gets deeper when Nur Insafi changed their mind. The rationale being that they would not be participating in the next season and so they want to leave amicably. A highly noble and magnanimous decision by Nur Insafi and the Technical Committee endorsed their decision to withdraw their "withdrawal" communication. "Presto!" everything returned to "status quo" ie the Nur Insafi-Sapura game is on. So why all the "fuss" in the 1st place.
On the other side we must also note that Nur Insafi had brought significant publicity, right or wrong is debatable and yet got away without a "scratch". The point being a precedent is set without a resolution and more importantly can MHF live with it? I ask this question because the "ghost" may come to "haunt' MHF in the future and what would their position be then. Again, sweeping it under the carpet and hoping it does not "stain" MHF.