Modern hockey is "explosive" enough providing sufficient "eye brow" raising instances where the elements of risk can change it from injury prone to sheer excitement by the seconds. It is this sudden rush of "hot blood" in the human anatomy, driven by the increase in adrenalin, that provides the pulsating fascination to the game. The split second changes undertaken by the delicate thinking of the players' at one end of the field to the other end combined with the movement of the wrists which provides the force to the hockey sticks to do their work is capturing "science" by using "artistic talents" in the execution of the game. It is this spontaneous blending that makes hockey thrilling enough to get people glued to the game.
The transformation of hockey has gone through some radical changes and what we refer to as "modern hockey" today in essence brings 2 fundamental issues to the forefront and they are:
- Margin of error by players and officials that could determine the fate of a game.
- Safety of players during the game that otherwise provides a negative image of the game.
Over the years the administrators of world hockey, FIH, has come to terms with these issues and have addressed them by taking mitigating measures to minimise or eliminate the impact of such matters. A lot has been implemented in various FIH tournaments and today at the World Cup in New Delhi they are working in full view of the world audience.
Translating what is taking place, we have to ask ourselves if Malaysian hockey is keeping abreast with it. If MHF wants Malaysian hockey to benefit from these measures than the various MHF Committees should be taking the appropriate decisions and pursuing the implementation of them. Unfortunately at the latest Malaysian Hockey League (MHL), the Competition Committee and maybe even the Medical Committee plus the Umpires Board seem to have overlooked implementing some of these measures or they are just too new for offcials here to comprehend. Maybe the National Junior League that is going to commence soon may provide an ideal tournament. Question is whether we will or we just choose to lag behind and wait until we have no option or when a catastrophe occurs.
The areas we should be looking at are
Margin of error .
- The "Video Referral" system currently being undertaken at World Cup at New Delhi, helps to eliminate the controversies that could arise around the circle dotted line just outside the "D" to the goalmouth. It provides every team one right of referral on a "real time" basis at the field. If they succeed, the right of appeal still prevails until they fail in an appeal. Thereafter they lose that right of video referral. This scheme cuts off any unnecessary appeals and at the same time the team must be aware that they are sure of their appeal. This video referral also helps to get rid of the "tantrums" of players when umpires give penalty corners. The video referral and the green card has helped to minimise players' protesting.
- The intercom system between the 2 umpires, the 3rd umpire and the video umpire. This system helps the umpires to manage the game properly, as every one of them is in touch with one another, particularly the 2 officiating the game. This minimises errors by the umpires.
- Mouth Guards - It would seem most or all the players at the World Cup are using "mouth guards" as a safety precaution. Somehow this habit has not caught on in Malaysia and the officials have not considered imposing it. Maybe here we are waiting for something nasty to happen before it is considered.
- Protection face masks and hand gloves - These have become standard accessories with most teams facing penalty corners. Again in our country it is not frequently used by the teams. The risk to injury in a penalty corner is so great, we seem to be taking matters very lightly.
At the last MHL we could see players throwing "tantrums" at the umpires, partly due to the sub-standard of umpiring while in other cases senior players were trying to bully the umpires. If we had applied the measures introduced by FIH at the World Cup, these nonsensical actions would have been minimised.
While todate there have not been serious casualties in hockey, Malaysians are not taught or trained to adopt safety measures. There may come a day where we may regret when a nasty accident takes place in the field. What is sad is we do not take the trouble to encourage people to wear "mouth guards" or protection masks and gloves. We are too "care free" with such matters and it is now critical that MHF finds ways of enforcing it, so hockey can be played safely.
This is where the various MHF Committees must be on top of the situation. They must do their homework and work for the betterment of the game. Unfortunately, what we have is official fighting over seating arrangements or not having a Committee to study such issues or trying to influence players to play for their club or just doing things that are repetitive in nature year after year. The point being there is no genuine passion in commitment to uplift Malaysian hockey. It seems only the TM and his paid staff have the genuineness to do something for Malaysian hockey. Sad but that is the truth.