Bangsar is now a famous suburb of Kuala Lumpur and is supposed to be one of KL's gastronomically delightful places with the added attraction of the various "nite clubbing" places. One of the famous "drinking holes" in Bangsar which has survived the test of time for at least 30 years, not necessarily with the same owners, is now a meeting place of the hockey fraternity where the "breaking news" in hockey is hotly debated.
Unknown to many, i happened to be at this place when a few were engaged in a discussion on Malaysian hockey, and the topic focussed on Development. The 'breaking news" was that MHF has got over RM2.0 million from the Government for hockey development and MHF is recruiting a foreign coach who has been in and out of Malaysian hockey either as a consultant or national coach for about 15 years. The main thrust of the discussion relates to his proposed salary possibly in the region of RM10,000, which had shocked a few. In his heydays with the Malaysian team it was probably the same figure except in US$ with a number of perks thrown in.
Is it desperate times that he is unable to find employment elsewhere? It was rumoured that Pakistan had shown some interest especially as stories were told how he was seen handing over notes in a game to the Pakistan team management at the recent World Cup while wearing the jacket of Pakistan's opponents.
Those supporting his appointment believe that he loves this country and he has made it his 2nd home and realistically that is the sort of money that would give him sufficient comfort. This in a way negates the "shocker" of a low salary for a foreigner. The antagonists believe what he did to Malaysian hockey as national coach, ie permitted the slide, is setting a "footprint" for a low salary so as to sustain his long term future in the job as it would be difficult to get a foreign replacement at that price.
By which time i was getting bored with the discussion, as it revolved around money and not the core issue of the programmes on development. The argument continued whether RM2.0m was sufficient and whether the bulk of the money would be spent on administrative needs. The argument even drew comparison with the "Sukan Teras" development programme and how it came to an abrupt end leaving the various coaches in a lurch.
Suddenly, the discussion reverted back to the foreign coach again. Indeed there were arguments ranging from his personal likings to financial dealings to his dictatorial manner of coaching. Obviously these are things i would not want to document as they are "hearsay" matters. However it is fundamental that MHF clarifies these matters which any reasonable employer should do. What are these matters? I had heard them before and was not surprised to hear them again. It is in the interest of Malaysian hockey and for the person concerned.
If the rumour is true ie the stated foreign coach is to be appointed as Director of Development, all i can say is for "God to bless Malaysian hockey". In the 90s he was a renowned world class coach but his style and training methods is completely outdated in today's modern hockey. If our young boys are to follow his system, then we may be going back to the "dark ages". Maybe he has changed and if so lets get a panel of coaches to study his programmes and the expected targets with the anticipated results to see that we are investing on the right person.
Yes! we may get him cheap but may pay an expensive price in pushing the clock back for our young boys. It may be an irreparable damage and we may regret it but by then the damage may have already been done. MHF needs to be extremely careful and revisit the whole issue and scrutinize the programmes, target groups, action plan and the achievable results. They have to be professional about it.
As the beers were coming by the jugs, the discussion started losing its focus and there were other developments taking place at this "drinking hole" and i had to leave the scene. All in all it was a stimulating nite and if i only had a "crystal ball" to tell me the future, i can then tell you where Malaysian hockey is heading. At this moment, it is anybody's guess.