The wisdom of the senior national team tours - "Timing, countries & opponents", was the title of my article dated 18th July 2010, which i hoped would stir some thinking in the team management and MHF. It would seem there is "lethargic" thinking in MHF as they continue their 2nd-rated thinking of playing warm-up matches with 2nd rate teams ie those that are behind them in the world ranking. It seems to be a ploy of creating a "feel good" factor by playing with such teams so as to give the impression that all is well with our senior team.
In the China tour the national team played China, Pakistan 2nd team and Russia; all behind us in ranking. Following which they went on an Australian tour when the Australian national team was already in Europe for their warm-up matches before the Champions Trophy. Again they played with clubs and teams which probably the team management believes would not stretch the Malaysian national team or provide humiliating defeats. A purposeful way of creating the "feel good" factor for the players, MHF hierarchy and the hockey fans. This is probably a neat way of "pulling wool over the fans eyes".
Today they left for an European tour. The 1st leg is Germany, where they are playing 4 club teams and then fly to Ireland to play a few Test matches before coming back to Europe ie Paris to play a 5 nation Invitational tournament. Again the timing of the tour "stinks" ie after the Champions Trophy and this may explain why countries like Germany, Holland, Spain and England do not bother to even consider playing Malaysia. Further the hockey season in Europe coincides with winter and playing clubs in summer is only providing pre-season practice for the club teams. The question of flying across to Ireland without stopping over and playing England seem to reflect "dullness" in the mental faculties of the team management. Having omitted England may be out of a "fear" factor and the fact they come back to Europe for the 5 nation tournament calls into question the "zig zagging" route they have employed is a further proof of the "dullness" that is prevailing in the organisational aspects of the team.
To top it all the Malaysian team is again playing with countries that are below them in world ranking. Why this diabolical thinking that is prevailing in the team management? It is probable they want to have the "feel good" factor of making sure they are not pitted with high ranking teams and get thrashed. It is this "fear" factor that is taking Malaysian hockey through some strange process of preparation by playing with mediocre teams that is giving a false sense of believe and hope. Eventually the truth shall be known when the Commonwealth and Asian Games begin. By then it will be too late and the team management would start reading their prepared script of: "these are the best players we have and what else can we expect".
At that stage we would have forgotten the strange process of preparation and playing with mediocre teams in the hope we can win gold in the Asian Games and qualify for the Olympics. This "cock eyed" outlook is killing Malaysian hockey and only encouraging the good resources of the country to go to waste. The planning that has gone into the 3 tours gives the impression that: "someone cannot even organise a drink up in a brewery". It shows the shallow thinking that is prevailing with the team management.
To make matters even worst, for the preparation of the Commonwealth and Asian Games following the European tour, ie for nearly 2 months, the national team would not have had any warm up matches. MHF is desperately trying to put together some invitational tournament as an 11th hour "saving grace" exercise. It calls into question what the team management have been doing all this while? It is very unlikely that the national coaches have screwed up all the planning and the tours. The belief is that these matters have been under the jurisdiction of the national team manager and apparently he has been using his personal contacts in Europe and Ireland to facilitate matters. This in a way has sidelined the coaches and the MHF administration and has created the "feel good" syndrome.
Psychologically, these sorts of activities are usually undertaken in view of the "fear" factor. Probably, the team manager did not want to be put in a corner to answer for the performance of the team if they have humiliating defeats during their warm-up matches if they play the top teams. Maybe the preparation period is so long and the stress levels would also be long. Therefore playing mediocre teams helps to minimise the stress levels. It is this sort of selfish thinking that goes to jeopardise Malaysian hockey.
The disaster in this whole episode of preparing the team for the Commonwealth and Asian Games is that neither NSC nor MHF had taken the trouble to review what exactly the team management are doing. If there was a process of accounting for their plans then both NSC and MHF would have questioned why the national team is embarking on tours and playing with mediocre teams. Each tour runs into hundreds of thousands of ringgits and one would have thought such a basic question would have been asked. It would seem that NSC is just prepared to spend the money so long as it was budgeted. It would seem there is no need for further justification, so the national team has just got to spent the money. This "tidak apa" attitude by NSC compounded by the failure of MHF Team Management Committee (TMC) to act properly shows why the national team is not going to succeed in both the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
Lets better appreciate the fact that when we are not playing with the best, we are deluding ourselves by playing with teams at lower rank than us so as we have the "feel good" fact, which is ultimately going to destroy the future of Malaysian hockey's quest for international success. This "shortsighted" thinking of the team management is further putting Malaysian hockey 5 to 10 years behind and it is a matter of time before we will join the ranks of 18 to 20th in world ranking.