The final of the overall title between UniKL and BPSS Thunderbolt provided enough evidence of the state of affairs of the "junior" generation of hockey players. As much as the JHL reflects on the standard of players, it equally reflects the standard of the coaches too. Many would obviously feel hurt by this but it is important we recognise it rather than live in a world of denial. Unless we know the true state of affairs we cannot adopt the necessary strategy to address the issues. We cannot just go down the same road over and over and make it look like everything is fine. If we want to do that then we are just "baffling" ourselves.
Getting back to the final, let me narrate some of the salient points:
- Both teams did not have a formation of play ie style or pattern.
- Both teams were charging straight to the goalmouth. In the case of Thunderbolt they were looking for penalty corners while UniKL scarily troubled Thunderbolt except for the 2 goals. Mind you they did not have even 1 penalty corner in the whole game.
- UniKl adopted a defensive approach and their attack was based on overhead flicks which the Thunderbolt were able to cleanly trap and instantaneously turn them into attack.This provided Thunderbolt the basis of their "waves" of attacks.
- UniKL scarified their half line and left a "gaping" hole in the centre which Thunderbolt did not know how to capitalise
- Thunderbolt's national player was playing like the other players ie did not show the calibre of a national player. The Thunderbolt coach obviously did not optimise his ability.
- Both Thunderbolt and UniKL had a player each who had 2 months stint with a 2nd Division Dutch hockey club. Their performance and skill did not reflect such a stint exposure. Indeed their performance was below par and i wonder whether their stint is a properly planned programme.
- Thunderbolt despite the waves of attack and numerous penalty corners, did not have any clues how to get the vital goals.
- Thunderbolt penalty corner "battery" was a disaster as they fumbled on "stopping" the ball on numerous occasions.
- UniKL had 2 to 3 players who were "passengers" in the game and the coach did not recognise this to make the imminent changes.
- In both the teams, the "players off the ball" were not moving to create opportunity for passes to be made.
- In both the teams, the players "recovery' after losing the ball seem to be very slow. More often they were standing and protesting.
- In both the teams, the players seemed "ill disciplined" as they seemed to be arguing with the decisions of the Umpires. There is no doubt that the standard of umpiring was also bad.
- UniKL players did not have a clue how to "run down the clock" in the dying hours of the game.
Overall the standard of the game did not reflect the final of a major tournament ie the JHL. The whole thing was an anti-climax. Although MHF added colour with a "live" telecast and the trimmings of prize giving but the game itself raises a question mark on the future of Malaysian hockey.
I wonder what is being done by MHF? They cannot just leave it to the Sports Schools or the State Project Schools or the Project 2013 people. This is an issue that goes to the fundamentals of the concept of "excellence" and probably that is what is lacking from the top to the bottom in majority of the cases. This is what needs to be addressed and that is something i shall cover in another article.
Till then i think it is important that the hierarchy in MHF must engage itself on this matter and undertake the necessary steps to embody the principles of "excellence" for the future of Malaysian hockey. Do not go with the view that the JHL is over and therefore another event in the calender is finished. The truth of the state of hockey arising from the JHL must be addressed.