Before we put a Plan together, we must have a vision as to what we want to achieve. Most times this would be guided by historical facts and the prevailing scenarios including taking account of the time span. Once we are equipped with such details it makes the planning exercise that much easier. The Plan that is drawn up by its architects needs to be scrutinised by independent experts in the field, who can endorse or fine tune the Plan. Once that is done then it is becomes the responsibility of the architects to ensure the Plan is adhered to.
This brings me to the Malaysian national team's preparation for the Commonwealth and Asian Games. After the 2006 debacle, where the national hockey team won the bronze medal for the Commomwealth Games, yet in the tournament that mattered, they achieved the worst record of coming 6th at the Doha Asian Games. The opinions that followed seem to indicate that since Commonwealth and Asian Games are in the same year and side by side, there is a need for a rethink for the preparation of both the Games. The guiding issue here is that in hockey the Commomwealth Games has no bearing whatsoever on any nation's international ranking, whereas as gold medallist of the Asian Games it provides a direct entry to the Olympics.
Armed with this historical fact, it was always envisaged that we would sent a mixed team for this year's Commonwealth Games and the best XI for the Asian Games. At least this was the thinking as there were over 30 trainees for the centralised training. Sadly our preparation plan seems to have been simply "rubber stamped" by NSC and also by MHF. I use the word "rubber stamped" because the Plan had 3 overseas tours, all playing with 2nd rated teams or tournaments including almost all the countries which were ranked below us. The preparation showed its weakness as there were no warm-up matches lined-up before the Commonwealth and Asian Games. Effectively, meaning our boys were going for tournaments that we planned well ahead ie 8 months and somehow there were significant gaps that were left that became so glaring as the time got closer. Now probably you understand why the scribe stated the aspect of "rubber stamping".
In desperate times, desperate measures were required and this is where MHF hastily organised 2 warm-up matches with New Zealand. Even then, it must be recognised that the Kiwis are assembling together as a team for the 1st time after the Champions Trophy, which was a good 2 months ago. Most of the players are flying into KL after their own national league and the rest are coming in from Europe. Therefore the Malaysian team would be playing against the New Zealanders who are trying to gel together as a team. Yes! it is "warm-up" for the Kiwis and i wonder what would it be for the Malaysians? In realistic terms what are we hoping for? Maybe to understand the art of Kiwis training without the long centraliseed periods which is so predominant in Malaysian hockey.
Now, there seems to be a change of thought insofar as the Commomwealth Games. Suddenly, it is made known that the Commonwealth Games is more like a practice tournament as a built-up for the Asian Games. This is probably why they are sending their best team to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games. What expensive practice matches the Commonwealth Games is going to be for Malaysian hockey. Maybe the writing is already on the wall that our boys may find it hard to compete with some of the best teams in the world in Delhi. Probably that is why they have started creating the excuse the Commonwealth Games is serving as practice matches. Therefore the thinking that is set for us to follow is that the results in Delhi in theory should not matter.
There is no doubts that the best of Plans would also have their shortcoming. This is usually not during the planning stage but at implementation due to unavoidable circumstances. In our case it would seem at planning itself we have made the necessary judgement errors. Either the architects lack the knowledge of proper planning or they just do what they are capable which may not be the best. What compounds the blunder is the subsequent endorsement by the relevant parties without the proper scrutiny. Now we must leave it to "hope" and probably wait for divine assistance. Even then we must appreciate that this can only happen if we do our bit of the work properly and correctly.
Anyway there is not much choice for our national hockey team other than to live in "hope" whichever way.