On 14th April, I wrote an article on this blog titled: " Time has come to re-engineer and revamp NSC", where i used Malaysian hockey as a base case to highlight the fact that an official in NSC took charge of hockey for 15 years and for a greater part of that period Malaysia failed to qualify for 2 World Cups and 2 Olympics. The period corresponded with the decline of Malaysian hockey including when the same official was part of the team management of the disastrous Malaysian Junior World Cup team in 2001. The article also elaborated of another instance where a coach who was part of the same failure in 2001 and compounded with failing the FIH coaching qualification, remained in NSC payroll without having any further upgrading training and to be appointed as coach of the women's national team. The article does not question these 2 people , rather it questions the system in NSC that seems to permit such situations to prevail when NSC's Vision and Mission as envisaged by its "founding fathers" is built on principles of excellence to create world class athletes and also coaches. Yet ! the implementing scenario seem to reflect something otherwise.
I thought the article was sufficiently thought-provoking and i believe it got a few "tongues
wagging". The stories that are "worming" out of the "woodwork" and still confined to Malaysian hockey seem to reflect that something is not right somewhere. Before any "finger pointing" takes place it is important to look at the issues.
One issue that seems to be caught in a arbitrarily mode is the question of appointment and payment of coaches. More often NSC tends to hide behind the NSA and state that it is their choice. One can live with that yet NSC is the paymaster and the details are worked by them. Unofficially they seem to have a persuasive voice and can determine the fate of coaches. The strange thing in all this is there is no proper structure in setting the minimum qualification, experience profile and terms of appointment. The failure to incorporate annual increment, recognition for continuous upgrading & qualification or training, bonuses for success and gratuity when they complete their contract creates a high degree of uncertainty in the life of a coach. Fundamentally it must provide a sort of "employment" path when a coach is appointed so he knows that the job provides him a quality of life without having to "moonlight" on other jobs or appointments.
The strange thing in all this is how NSC and the NSA "bent behind backs" to accommodate and fulfill the wishes and desires of foreign coaches. Yet on the same breath we literally treat our coaches like "beggars". Yes! i am the first one to admit that the foreign coaches have the necessary qualifications, success profiles and names to go with. Still there was a starting point which their respective foreign NSA had provided the helping hand and from there they "blossomed". Unfortunately here the poor local coach is caught with 2 bosses ie NSC and the NSA and inevitably with meddling officials who start fingering who should be selected and who should play. Somehow this interfering nature is not displayed by our officials when we have a foreign coach. Probably they are afraid that their hands maybe bitten off by the foreign coach whereas a local coach is at their mercy.
Some of the gossips in relation to coaches are as follows:
- When a local national coach failed to get the national team to qualify for the Olympics, NSC wrote to the Ministry of Sports to provide a massive increment for that coach. Yet when another coach took the national team to the final of the World Cup qualifiers and lost, he had his salary deducted.
- When we had a foreign coach, he could visit various international tournaments on account of Malaysia for the benefit of the national team. Yet when we had 3 local coaches at the recent World Cup in New Delhi for the FIH course, they had to come back and did not have the opportunity to see the last 3 days of matches including semi-finals and finals. Maybe the local coaches do not deserve to observe and study such matches.
- Some coaches get paid for the same job higher than others because they are different programmes ie Elite or Pelapis. This confusion can literally make significant difference in salaries and dull enthusiasm of coaches.
- Coaches now do not seek the extra qualification because there is nothing in NSC structure that encourages the coaches to upgrade themselves. Currently NSC works on coaches in a "hodge-podge" manner.
- Period on contract for local coaches seem very arbitrary. When Terry Walsh was appointed he failed to get Malaysia into the World Cup in 1990 but he had the time for the 1992 Olympics. Tai Beng Hai despite the ill-discipline players environment and consistent officials interference he got Malaysia to the World Cup Qualifiers final and then he was summarily demoted to assistant coach. He only had 11 months compared to Terry Walsh's 3 years.
- Beng Hai's assistant was arbitrarily dumped, all because he was vehemently trying to instill discipline in a choatic players ill-disciplined environment.
Coaches are "people of change" and unless we create a proper pathway for them then we cannot expect much in return from our local coaches. Unfortunately the failure of NSC and NSA to create a proper structure for the local coaches has created an environment that is "back stabbing", "bad mouthing", deliberate actions by certain coaches to derail other coaches and heights of politicking which is sipping into the main structure of the NSA. Rather than changing hockey for the better, what NSC has done is to put hockey backwards thereby permitting the decline. All this has to stop and effectively NSC has to be bold to re-engineer themselves to overcome such issues.