On my last visit to London, on a Sunday afternoon, i took a stroll at the famous Hyde Park Speaker's Corner. This is a congregational spot where people stand on a small box expounding what they believe to a packed audience who are mainly tourists. The Speaker's Corner is suppose to be the monument of "free speech".
One of the speakers who attracted my attention was a short Asian probably Indian origin, who was enjoying insulting the British. His underlying theme was that he is in the UK to recollect the old British debt because of Britain's exploitation of the colonies. An interesting comment he made was the definition of "Commonwealth". He stated that the British colonies "wealth" was made "common" by Britain for its use. Today he says that Commonwealth is an archaic term which has no relevance in modern times.
At least at that moment his speech did bring some memories of the Commonwealth ie remainders of the Commonwealth Head of States Meetings and the Commonwealth Games, a gathering whose useful purposes is extremely difficult to fathom. However if we in-build issues such as discriminatory UK university fees, aspects of immigration & visas plus other factors, it would seem with modern times the relevance of Commonwealth and its subjects are non consequential matters to Britain.
In essence what the Speaker spoke had some bearing but on holiday i do not allow my "grey matter" to be tickled into a working mode. As fast as i heard it, i allowed it to be parked away in my brain and hopefully one day i would recall it if there was a requirement.
Following the recent comment by MHF that there shall be 2 senior teams ie one for Asian Games and the other for Commonwealth Games, my mind was able to flash back to the speech i had heard in Hyde Park Speaker's Corner on the definition of the Commonwealth. This immediately begged a question why Malaysian hockey with a 2nd team is participating in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi later this year.
I had to ask this question because as what the Speaker mentioned in Hyde Park, the Commonwealth Games has no relevance whatsoever to the international ranking in world hockey. It is a gathering of the Commonwealth sporting fraternity to give an impression of a "gathering" of one big happy family once every 4 years. It probably symbolizes the maxim: "The sun never sets on the British Empire". Mind you the extent of the British Empire gave credence to such a statement.
The question we have to ask is: "Why are we spending all the money training a 2nd team solely for the Commonwealth Games?" It is an important question because our 1st team at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup found it difficult to overcome the teams from Pakistan and Australia who were experimenting with their sides and probably in New Delhi later this year they shall be with their best teams. There would also be India, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada who qualified to participate at the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi earlier this year, where Malaysia failed to qualify.
With this backdrop, what does MHF hope to achieve by sending a 2nd team to the Commonwealth Games. Obviously, it is a wise choice to spare the 1st team of this commitment in view of the Asian Games, which has great relevance to our international position. So going to the Commonwealth Games is all about attending a "gathering"!
If such is the thinking, why not we ask our Project 2013 boys to represent Malaysia. Use them as the core team and strengthen them with some experienced players to provide a "sense of balance" to the team. This effectively would be "building" a team for the future by providing the appropriate exposure. Yes! they would become the whipping boys and so would the 2nd team too. Might as well invest on a future team to carry the responsibilities because every defeat is only going to strengthen their resolute to get better in view of the exposures.
For Coach Dharma and his Project 2013 boys, this would become a real challenge and they know they have to get out of the "comfort zone" and perform. They would also know that they are going to be the "whipping boys" of the tournament and that itself must create the necessary pressure to perform. What an opportunity for our young boys.
This is a more realistic approach for Malaysian hockey to participate in the Commonwealth Games. MHF must be brave enough to make such a decision and the only way they can do that is to think "outside the box". I wonder whether that would be difficult for them?
The future of Malaysian hockey rests with our boys in the Project 2013 team and it is time they too face the harsh reality of the game ie carrying the burden of the nation to a tournament that has no international bearing. This itself shall provide MHF the right excuse to make such a decision. The question is whether MHF has the "guts" to make such far reaching decisions? Time will give us the answer.