Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) became the winner of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) final last Friday 12th February by beating Sapura 4-2 on penalty flicks after the game remained drawn at 1-1 following extra-time. Effectively TNB won the TNB Cup and the TNB management hierarchy led by their CEO & President would have been in ecstatic mood. More interesting is that the CEO had rushed all the way from KLIA at the right moment to provide the support for his boys.
Interesting looking at the game itself. it was about retired experience stars from Sapura taking on the young national stars of TNB. It would seem that experience would prevail in the match but Sapura did not have the ultimate "killer" instinct to finish the match. On the other side TNB was a "clinical" team whose young stars could not find the way to crack the solid defence of the experience Sapura. At the end the determination to carry the Cup provided the right frame of mind to TNB players to find the net at the penalty flicks. It is probably the young boys were not tired out after extra-time and they were mentally strong to do the job. This is where probably experience lost out to the mental strength of the young boys.
The game itself would have been exciting if it was not for the Umpires. Their poor standard of controlling the game had an impact on the ultimate results. One thing is for sure and that is this whole MHL season the Umpires have performed "sub-standardly". So when the Chairman of Umpires Board stated this is the best they have and comparable to international standards, I think he was illogically defending the consistent pathetic performance of his members. Even on the "outside" chance he may be right, he may not realise that he may mean international hockey umpiring is also at a disastrous standard. I am sure that is not his thinking.
While TNB Management were celebrating with their boys, credit must go to the Chairman and to the CEO of Sapura for spending that extra moments with their boys after the prize presentation. The father and son team showed the best of corporate leadership by talking and consoling the boys at an empty stadium when the crowd had disappeared. Their human touch even in hour of defeat is a reflection of the caring nature of Sapura's corporate philosophy and all credit go to the father and son team. Such people must be invited to be in MHF as it would do MHF a world of good.
One other person who needs mentioning is Nor Saiful Zaini. A person who has tactfully remained in the background of late because of the policies of MHF with regards to national coaches. Notwithstanding that he is also Head of the Sports Unit of TNB and where hockey comes under his portfolio. It is probably his thinking in line with TNB's corporate philosophy that there is blend between the youth and the experienced in the TNB team. It is also provides the pathway for the next generation of young kids in view of TNB's Development programme referred to as "Thunderbolt". A programme that is nationwide where TNB gets schools involved in hockey by not only conducting coaching sessions but also equipping the schools with hockey kits.
Nor Saiful himself has been a colourful figure in Malaysian hockey having served the nation as a national player including Captain for nearly 15 years. One of the rare breed who was a speedy right wing and also a penalty corner hit specialist, represented the country at 3 Olympics and 4 Asian Games. The years in the national team makes him the most capped Malaysian hockey international and the record is still awaiting to be "broken". He was one of the selected Malaysian named in the "Asian All Star" team. Such is his credential as a hockey star.
Saiful is a religiously devout person, who does not impose his values on others, other than advising people accordingly if there is a need. This he believes is a religious plus human duty that he does it with good "niat". Sometimes, the guilt in people tend to misunderstand or misconstrue his intentions and this is why unsavoury remarks are made of him. If only the truth is known by people who spread such "tales" of the opportunities he had given certain personalities to redeem themselves before the final decisions were made. Unfortunately, these personalities do not help themselves and this part of the stories are conveniently hidden or forgotten thereby making Saiful a victim of circumstances.
Strangely it is people in MHF, like a long standing Vice President and certain members of the Coaching Committee who listen to "tales" and conduct themselves in an inhumane manner. Ironically, these are the people who do the least amount of proper work for MHF. They prefer the "politicking" and creating trouble, which is the their idea of work.
Whatever it may, Saiful is beyond all these and only those who feel insecure and threatened would want to destroy a good person's creditability. Saiful is a focused person and TNB winning the MHL final is an honour to Saiful's dedication to hockey. More so to a person who gives his best with good intention without any prejudicial thoughts and does things for the best of the game. What we need is more of "Saifuls" in the game.