My article on "Gossips that further enhance the call to re-engineer and revamp NSC. Part 1 - Issues relating to coaches", is about the lack of a formal employment pathway for local hockey coaches, thereby creating inconsistent policies that have significant bearing in the principles of excellence for the creation of world class players and for a highly ranked hockey nation. I have placed the burden on NSC, who is the ultimate paymaster and therefore for all purposes the "employer". Some may vehemently argue over this point but the fact that a significant nexus exists between the coaches and NSC, is itself the "proof of the pudding".
While i started on coaches, it must not be forgotten that the key to any hockey match is the players ie the core material. Traditionally, in the yesteryear, the "fertilising ground" for young talents in hockey came from the schools. As the country progressed economically with desirable distractions for the young kids and at the same time the good old dedicated hockey teachers or coaches retired, compounded with the fact that hockey itself transformed to be played at artificial fields thereby making the main equipment and accessories of the game expensive, it provided the much needed "catalyst" to commence the " self destructive" process of hindering grassroot development.
I will be the 1st to admit that many decision makers including the NSC realised this and were working on programmes to mitigate such consequences. The Government poured in the necessary funds but the issue like many other things is the aspect of implementation and sustaining it. The Sports Schools are supposed to be the "collection centre" to literally breed world class players. From the results that have emerged and the way things are progressing, it does not seem to provide that sort of platform. Then there was the Tunas Cemerlang, and Sukan Teras programmes, which appeared as a "flash in the frying pan" and got itself "fried". As fast as it appeared, it disappeared. Now we have the "Pelapis" programme and i wonder how long it would sustain itself. Programmes come and go like changing of "fashionable" clothes. At least there we can admire the beauty but here there is nothing much visible and then the programme disappears from the "radar screen".
The irony in all this is that monies are just being spent but the results do not seem to reflect the investments. The only question one can ask is WHY? Initially, people come up with good ideas and when the monies come things take a change. The programmes become administratively heavy which eats into significant part of the funds while the mobilisation at grassroot lacks the professional approach of planning, implementation, monitoring with feed back and continuous re-engineering. The programmes becomes so dogmatic and bureaucratic in approach that it turns the coaches into clerical officers. Fundamentally the coaches do not become "agents of change" to develop talents.
It would be interesting to see how the Ministry of Education's Development programme with Paul Lissek's involvement in talent scouting and MHF's "1 Mas" development programme would do in the maze of hockey development activities that are taking place. The notable aspect in these 2 programmes is that the same "old faces" are there and whether this is a good or bad omen can only be answered with time.
While the "roots" for development is trying to grow its "grass", at the high performance level, the situation remains stagnated ie bankrupt of ideas. The paymaster for national players is the NSC and their structure does not have any semblance of incentives for achievements. The salaries are not "capped" related rather based on a flat rate. It does not take account of levels of fitness and the aspect of performance. Even for injury rehabilitation they are continously paid even if they are not in training for 2 years or have not visited the ISN doctors. Yet! the player during that period can do the job of a mechanic. It is the failure of not having a creative incentive-based remuneration package on a "benefit-burden" rule that has made the players lazy to push that extra harder to achieve their best.
In effect the players are on a "gaji buta" scheme that does not provide any encouragement so as the players can achieve the set target goals. The reason why such creative thinking does not prevail in NSC is because nobody wants to wear the "thinking hat" to come up with an appropriate scheme. Ultimately it has to fall on NSC because they are the paymaster and such schemes would provide a monthly status position of all the players. It is an objective manner in determining the players performance based om tests and performance on set targets. The remuneration package itself becomes a key indicator of the player's overall condition. This makes the remuneration package for players a "check and balance" tool.
If the incentive driven remuneration package for players based on "benefit-burden " rule also incorporates discipline matters into the equation then issues such as players returning to camp in the wee hours of the morning after hefty consumption of alcohol or faking injuries or missing training and so forth would become events of the past. The scheme would hurt players where it matters ie money, their salary.
Time and time again we moan and groan when the hockey national teams do not perform. Yet no steps are taken to rectify matters. Post-mortems are done, reports are generated and circulated only to collect dust. Then, we start the same cycle over again. Strangely NSC as the Government authority on sports seems to have failed in creating a continuous monitoring system. This could easily be based on the matter that the national players consider as their "bread and butter" ie their monthly salary. If that is fundamental then it is imperative that schemes be developed around it so as to ensure that the players properly earn their salaries. These schemes can become the mechanism to monitor players all-round athletic condition and performance.
What better way is there? NSC does not need "rocket scientists" to develop such schemes for the players' remuneration package. All you need is to identify the measurable facets from A to Z on players' related issues and attach monetary values. It is the gathering of the right minds and developing a practical, easily understandable scheme that is objectively measurable which can be simple in implementation.
It is this sort of creative thinking that is required because sports is dynamic while NSC is caught in a "time warp" where it is not keeping pace. The net result is that Malaysian sports lags behind in the world arena. Therefore the call to re-engineer and revamp NSC is not a figment of one's imagination but rather a "cry" of necessity for the future of Malaysian sports.