Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Nur Insafi" seem to call the "shots" at the MHL.

Nur Insafi, a hockey team from Penang, has been a participant in the national hockey and still remains an enigma to Malaysian hockey. This season they have secured the services of nearly 15 foreign players and are spending anywhere between RM 300,000 to RM 500,000 to win a title where the price money is only RM 30,000. This mysterious thinking rests in the mind of the "altar ego" of the club, who is their manager.

It is said that he has love for hockey that is 2nd to none. As a result of this he is prepared to spend the money to achieve the desired objective. He seems to have the same thinking as another "financier" of the game from a known hockey club. I must state that these people are great "devotees" of the game. The similarities run parallel including spending the monies to gain success. This means they fill the team with foreign players or national players to have easy access to the title.

Surely, that cannot be wrong. After all, it is their hard earned funds and they must have the liberty to do what they feel is good for the club and themselves. If any, it is entirely their choice except for the stakeholders of the clubs, they are free from being questioned. Can you imagine if these 2 clubs do not exist then there would have been only 4 teams in the MHL. What a disaster it would have been for Malaysian hockey.

Having said that unfortunately Nur Insafi did not fare well in the MHL. The pre-publicity for the team and in particular the foreign players gave the impression that they would be a force in the league. Some argue that the team did not have time to get the players to know one another and therefore they could not operate as a team. Others believe the so called foreign "stars" may not be the "better" stars or they are just "over the hill" so to say.

The disappointing performance of Nur Insafi was compounded by the team manager's outburst on the quality of umpiring plus nature's intervention with rain during their games. Apparently these 2 aspects had an impact on the team's performance. There is no doubt that the standard of umpiring in the MHL can be questionable but talking about the rain can be mind boggling.

What is surprising is that there were no formal complaints on the umpires other than what was rumoured of the team management having had "verbal diarrhea" with the umpires after the games. Again the umpires did not lodge any report nor did the technical members who were present at the incidences. Maybe the "heat" of the moment provided such a "knee jerk" reaction and as the "heat" subsided, everyone went their own way. So why make a big fuss over momentary reactions. In the best of sporting spirits it facilitated the self-made compromises which is a "fine art" and we all have become experts.

Of course Nur Insafi's public outcry is also a manifestation of the frustration that they are undergoing particularly on the level of resources they have invested on the team. The "returns" based on performance at the field, does not justify the investment. Reasons had to be found to mitigate these shortcomings. The umpires are an easy target and sometimes they themselves invite becoming the reasons when they do not display the standards expected of "class" umpires.

The fact that everybody remains silent of the onslaught on umpires without any reviews or investigation literally means that the matter is being swept under the carpet. Unfortunately it becomes a precedent where there has not been a resolution and the "ghost" of such matters may come to haunt MHF. As to how they are going to react in the future is a question mark.

The irritation to Nur Insafi did not end there. The MHL has now come to a "knockout" stage and based on 3 meetings of which Nur Insafi was present in 1, the teams had agreed that the knockout stage shall be played at the Klang Valley only. Obviously. Nur Insafi was the only team outside the Klang Valley and probably no special attention was paid to their requirements. What makes it intriguing is Nur Insafi themselves did not at an early stage request for home and away games nor protest on the requirement to play only in the Klang Valley.

Lately, Nur Insafi again grabbed the media attention on the "unfairness" of having to play the matches in Kuala Lumpur. It is probable that at this time, as the teams take stock of their expenditure, they may realise that they are getting "thin" on available funds and every cent begins to count. Therefore the cost of travel and accommodation can be an unplanned expenditure for some of the teams and can become a costly factor. Costs plus the issue of losing home ground advantage probably got Nur Insafi further irritated, which was compounded with the previous issues that were swept under the carpet. Nur Insafi probably felt that they were being unfairly treated.

Meantime and unexpectedly, probably in the best interest of hockey, MHF turned to Sapura the opponents of Nur Insafi to determine if they were prepared to play in Penang on a home and away basis to accommodate Nur Insafi's predicament. Sapura too had something to vent and apparently according to sources from Sapura they had submitted a long letter of disapproval to deviate from the scheduled programme as already outlined by the Competition Committee. In their letter there were other issues that surfaced which seem to reflect that the matters were not as simple as it seemed. Maybe part of the problem could also be that Sapura lost the last game of the league to Nur Insafi.

More twists and turns were taking place as the principle of "accommodating" Nur Insafi came into play. MHF was unable to do much as Sapura was sticking by the original decision of only playing in the Klang Valley. This did not leave much room for Nur Insafi and therefore they decided to go through with their threat to withdraw. Their formal communication was endorsed by the Technical Committee thereby giving Sapura a direct entry to the semi-finals. This caught Nur Insafi "offguard" as they must have presumed such drastic action would not have been forthcoming.

The "mystery" gets deeper when Nur Insafi changed their mind. The rationale being that they would not be participating in the next season and so they want to leave amicably. A highly noble and magnanimous decision by Nur Insafi and the Technical Committee endorsed their decision to withdraw their "withdrawal" communication. "Presto!" everything returned to "status quo" ie the Nur Insafi-Sapura game is on. So why all the "fuss" in the 1st place.

On the other side we must also note that Nur Insafi had brought significant publicity, right or wrong is debatable and yet got away without a "scratch". The point being a precedent is set without a resolution and more importantly can MHF live with it? I ask this question because the "ghost" may come to "haunt' MHF in the future and what would their position be then. Again, sweeping it under the carpet and hoping it does not "stain" MHF.

Monday, January 25, 2010

KLHC wins the national hockey league title - "Is it meaningful?"

Before Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club's (KLHC) last match in the league with TNB at Malacca last week, KLHC were already Champions of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) when they beat Sapura 1-0 at Johore Baru the week earlier. Now that the MHL gets into "knock out" stage ie quarter finals, KLHC must be the front runner for the "double".

Firstly we must congratulate KLHC for becoming Champions. I must state before the league commenced I had put my bet on KLHC. They had inherited the entire team from EY ie the 2008 Champions, save for some "window dressing" on the team management.

On paper, the team was literally made up of the majority national senior and junior players. Indeed there was confusion in KLHC as they had more players on their payroll than they could register. Rather then releasing them, KLHC still kept them and appointed them to various non-playing positions, thereby not giving the players the opportunity to play for the other teams in the MHL. Unquestionably, an "employer-employee" matter.

Even before the first"whistle" could be blown in the MHL, KLHC was embroiled in the aspect of coaches. KLHC's original coach ( part of the inheritance from EY) is "going places" and is now the national coach of the Project 2013 team. His current employer ie MHF, did not permit the national coaches and their assistants from coaching any of the MHL teams. This did not go down well with KLHC and they had to make "questionable" arrangements. Again insofar as MHF is concerned, like KLHC on the excess players, this is an unquestionable aspect of "employer-employee" matter.

The MHL should in theory be a "walk through" exercise for KLHC. Packed with more than sufficient national players they should not have problem with any of the teams. It is all a question of margin of win only. Unfortunately what looks good on paper may not necessarily be in practice. KLHC had to struggle in some of their 10 matches they played to secure the title. They drew with Maybank, who only have the pleasure of having a few retired internationals. They were stretched by Sapura before winning 1-0. Sapura in this match did not have the services of their 2 current star internationals. Finally on the last day of the league KLHC loss to TNB 4-3 after leading 3-1. The ambition of coming through unbeaten in the league was demolished on the last day.

The results of KLHC has a "pin-pointing" affect ie it provides an insight of the state of affair of Malaysian hockey. The good news is KLHC won the league but the damning point is they struggled despite all the national players they are carrying. It shows that Malaysian hockey is in a diabolical state and despite all the "questionable" arrangements with coaches the best is not seen in the players. KLHC may represent the "decaying" nature of Malaysian hockey. In fact in various "corners" it had been heard that the Malaysian players in the KLHC team were not committed to training and the games as expected of internationals. Excuses of "loss in concentration" provides good narration for kindergarten kids as their bedtime stories.

Seriously, if this can happen to KLHC, then the probability of it happening to the national team is very great. Therefore, can KLHC take pride with its success in the MHL when in fact they should have easily "sailed" through it. MHL is the major tournament in MHF calender and when KLHC "national" team struggles with lack of commitment, what hope is there for Malaysian hockey?

Monday, January 18, 2010

MHF Umpires - "They maybe the best available but are they doing their job properly?"

"This is the best available in the country," is a common statement made by sports administrators in defence when their sports come under scrutiny or criticism. The latest of whom is the Chairman of MHF Umpires Board (UB), who was responding to the comments of the team manager of one of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) teams on the poor standard of umpiring at the MHL matches.

Amarjit Singh as Chairman of the UB, is without doubt Malaysia's pride in the hockey umpiring world and he has "blown" in numerous renowned international tournaments including a number of their finals. Amarjit continued and at times emulated what was done by people like the late John Kanagaratnam, Datuk Vijiyanathan,Titus Havelock, the late N Valupillay, Lee Cheng Poh and the late V T Duray (Thamby). These are a special breed of officials who could compete with the best in the world of hockey umpiring and come out top.

So when a distinguished personality like Amarjit Singh makes such a statement, I become concerned whether it is a "guarded" statement. He states it is the best available and he could be right. He further emphasises that they can be compared with the international umpires and this is where I may agree to disagree with him and I have my reasons.

My disagreement arises because of the following matters that have taken place at the fields:
  • Players shouting obscene language during the game.
  • Players protesting on decisions of the umpires by harassing them or throwing their sticks to the ground in disgust.
  • Team officials and some senior players have confronted umpires after matches with abusive language.

In all these cases it would seem the umpires have chosen to adopt the "3 monkeys" philosophy ie "I no see", "I no hear" and "I no talk". No action whatsoever is taken by the umpires and like many things they may not want any controversy. Therefore sweeping it under the carpet would be an ideal solution for the umpires including technical officials.

What the umpires do not understand is the players, officials and spectators become aware of this. They may not realise but people do talk about it. In essence what the umpires are doing is condoning bad behavior both on and off the ground. These are discipline matters and the more it is swept under the carpet, the more dirt is being collected. Then there would be layers and layers and to remove them would be difficult particularly as it starts to "stain" Malaysian hockey. Indeed discipline issues have on many occasions unsettled the senior national team.

Again we have to ask why players and officials turn to such behavior against umpires. I believe it is what the umpires do in the game that seem to be creating the outbursts. Some of them are as follows:

  • Making wrong decisions.
  • Inconsistencies in decision making.
  • Influenced by current and former senior international players during the game.
  • Failure to control the game properly.

In tense situations as frustration builds up and the lack of anger management in teams both with players and officials, various unnecessary instantaneous emotional outbursts manifest which I have outlined much earlier. While it is not good for the game, it is sacrosanct that the umpires must be respected and decisions followed despite the countless repetitive errors.

This is where if both umpires and team management make formal complaints rather then just confronting the umpires, then at least Amarjit and the UB would have something to go by to investigate the issues. Sweeping under the carpet by umpires, technical officials and the various team management does not help in wanting to improve the overall situation of umpiring. Sometimes the fear that umpires in defence of their colleagues may victimise the teams, may act as a hindrance to formally raise the issues.

This is where I believe Amarjit and the UB must review matters carefully. Maybe one of the solution is to have reputed retired umpires doing "checks" on the current umpires during the MHL matches to judge if they are performing satisfactorily. Again MHF must ask the technical officers to ensure that umpires are not harassed after the game. Finally umpires have to be strict with players and do not give them the room to display their emotional outburst. The issues must be "nipped at the bud".

So Amarjit, I must state that the current "crop" of umpires have not reached anywhere near your calibre when you were in their position. This is why I disagree with you that they are comparable to international umpires.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Outwitting an MHF policy and the far reaching consequences.

Man's creative propensity is such that if he comes up with something, there will always be others who shall find a way of circumventing it. This can sometimes be good and at other times can be a drawback depending on the subject matter.

Using this as the backdrop, my story relates to Malaysian hockey particularly to the coaches attached with the various national teams. These coaches are in the payroll of MHF ( in reality it is NSC) with MHF as their employer. In essence the relationship between MHF and the coaches is a "employer-employee" one and therefore there are both written and unwritten rules to be observed.

This matter must now be microscopically analysed in view of the prevailing inconsistencies that have arisen. Being employees the coaches have to abide by the contractual terms and policies of MHF. Here i believe the concerned coaches had followed suit and requested clearance from NSC to permit them to coach some Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) teams. Apparently NSC gave the clearance and the matter was communicated by MHF Secretary to the Chairman of the Coaching Committee. Peculiarly, i believe the Secretary had not informed the President of MHF nor the Management Committee. The Chairman of the Coaching Committee in his enthusiasm by-passed the Coaching Committee and "rubber-stamped" the NSC clearance, thereby permitting the coaches to seek a supplementary employment ( not for some of the coaches ) with the MHL teams.

Sometimes "the world moves in strange ways" and as such at the first available meeting of the Management Committee, it was decided that the coaches involved with the various national teams should not be involved with the MHL teams. The directive for the coaches was to scout for talents at the MHL matches. There was wisdom in that decision from an ethical and conflict of interest point of view. This decision was subsequently endorsed by the Coaching Committee and this put the coaches in a predicament including the teams.

At this stage it must be noted that it only involved 3 coaches and 2 teams. 2 of them are full-time employees of one of the involved team's organisation and were seconded to the various national teams. One of them is regarded as a senior coach and is not even being paid by MHF or NSC while the other gets a paltry sum only. Insofar as the 3rd person ie the chief coach of one of the national teams, he is a "career" coach and lately his livelihood is dependent upon the remuneration from coaching. Therefore coaching the "other" team would have significantly improved his quality of life. It would be a sound enough reason if that is the only reason.

Superficially everything seems to be OK except when one "lifts the team's veil" to see what is happening. Some may say it is a beauty while others may think it is ugly. Maybe an insight of what actually is taking place may give you a better understanding:
  • The team that wanted the 2 coaches, only wanted to use their own full-time staff to undertake the team's coaching task. So to avoid any controversy, one of the coaches was registered as a player. This permitted the coach to be present at all times with the team. As for the other coach, his full time job is being the Head of the Sports Unit and this provides him access to the team while they are training. Meantime the team had registered another person as the official coach.

  • The other team with the chief coach seems to have adopted a different stance. They seem to have a "hide & seek" approach. Having registered a different coach as the official coach for the team, the chief coach is used as a "consultant" (not in an official capacity) by sitting at the stand and giving telephone instructions to the registered coach. Apparently he also attends team meetings before and after games. As to whether he is being paid for the services, i am unable to comment as i do not have information on such matters.

In a nutshell when we "lift the teams' veils" what we have is 2 scenarios. The team with their full time staff seem to be transparent in their workings. It is probably the principles of corporate governance in their organisation that is brought to the hockey field. It shows when you carefully groom people with the right attitude and training, the modus operandi of the team speaks for itself.

As for the other team , the "hide & seek" approach is a reflection of a desperate desire to win the MHL and therefore seemingly anything to everything is done by the backdoor. They seem to be in a "pressure vessel" and performance with result is the only governing factor. This is obviously a "Machiavellian" outlook and maybe the people behind the team may subscribe to such principles. This may not surprise me as the team is literally made up of national players and the investment in keeping the players is extremely enormous. Therefore winning at all cost is something that cannot be compromised, which itself imposes considerable stress to the people behind the team.

The problem with the "hide & seek" approach is that it becomes an example for others to follow. The danger being when players of the team who are all national players or youngsters would think that this is "normal". Effectively we would be teaching them the wrong things and thereby players may find it difficult to distinguish between right and wrong.

This paves the way for indiscipline issues among players especially when they see people involved making a wrong look right. The maxim of "what is good for the goose is also good for the gander" may come to haunt Malaysian hockey if the leadership at clubs do not set good examples to their players. Indeed if any, issues pertaining to excessive drinking with late night partying during training, smoking, betting and so forth could have had their "seeds" sown because of such instances ie condoning acts that are normally not accepted in our country. Lets not be "teachers" for the wrong things in life if we are in a position to influence young sportsmen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Final Part 6: Trials and tribulations anticipated in 2010.

As we bid farewell to 2009, we must surely take "stock" where Malaysian hockey is, before we dive into the "thick" of 2010. Much had been said, written and gossiped from the most trivial to earth shattering issues in Malaysian hockey. Many do it because of their love for the game, some do it because they want to be heard and others do it because they have an "agenda" for themselves or on behalf of vested parties. Whatever the issues or the reasons, there is no doubt a "registry" can be easily compiled to document the prevailing issues. In reviewing the matters there is a "common thread" emerging providing a "make believe" scenario that things are not good in MHF.

Part of this could arise from the 5 part series of articles which i had written over the last 7 weeks in the blog. Just to jolt your memory, the main title was: MHF Committees in "Slumberland" and the various Parts are as follows:

  • Part 1 : "Directionless" Coaching Committee dated 28th.November.2009

  • Part 2 : "Clueless" Development Committee dated 1st.December.2009

  • Part 3 : "Motionless" Medical Committee dated 4th.December.2009

  • Part 4 : "Actionless" Vice Presidents dated 8th.December.2009

  • Part 5 : "Pointless" Team Management Committee dated 11th.December.2009

Reading the articles it may give the outlook that MHF is a "crippled" organisation. If such a perception is portrayed, i may be partly to be blamed, as it was not intended to be so. Rather it was to provide an insight on how, when some key portfolios are not functioning, certain inherent strengths in MHF or Malaysian hockey tended to fill the vacuum to keep hockey afloat through the various piecemeal actions. Obviously, at the same time it also highlights whether MHF have the right people to do the job.

A classic example is in Development. While the MHF Development Committee is still fiddling with its plans after 1 year, we have to recognise some of the development activities outside the ambit of the Development Committee and they are:

  • TNB's "Thunderbolt" Development Programme - TNB as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) has about 4 to 6 coaches visiting selected schools throughout the country. They are not only training the kids but also equipping the schools with full sets of hockey equipment to encourage the schools' participation.

  • Ministry of Education (MOE) Development Programme - With the former Director General of NSC being in a Sports Advisor position to the Minister of Education, there seems to be significant increase in level of activities in the MOE with regards to grassroot development in hockey. Something exciting is developing in this area.

  • "Pearl" Development Programme - Started as a social programme to get kids occupied, this has developed into a significant activity over the weekend at the Pantai Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. Undertaken by a known coach and assisted by 2 others, their dedication is unquestionable and they are doing a grand job. The interesting aspect is to see the parents finding the space and time to get their children involved. These are good signs.

I have listed a few such programmes but there are many more where dedicated people on their own are doing work throughout the country. They may or may not be affiliated to any groups but are just doing it for the love of the game. Some of them are teachers or former teachers , hockey players either former internationals or non-internationals who just want to dedicate their time. These people are not paid and therefore their commitment goes well beyond the realms of money or fame. It is all about commitment to help the game of hockey. Mind you, with time these people are becoming "endangered" species and their numbers growing smaller.

Looking at this scenario, what must be realised is that in MHF there are only a few people working. Majority of them are "arm chair" critics whose sole purpose is to hold positions and just poke holes on work done by others. Fortunately for them they carry out good public relation exercises with such skills that they give the perception that they are the "kingpins" in MHF. What seems to be happening is the ones who work, are quietly going about to deliver their obligation and do not seek the fanfare.

The President of MHF in coming to power allowed the democratic system to determine who shall be the elected officials. In wanting the change in 2008, the focus of the majority was to keep a certain personality out. Therefore the net result was most of the officials from the previous administration were re-elected barring for this one personality. Effectively, the TM had inherited the previous administration with all the "fixtures and fittings" that came with them. They were not assets rather debts to the tune of RM1.6m and a declining standard in hockey particularly with all the national teams ie seniors, juniors and age groups.

Did the change that was expected after 2008 elections materialise? To be fair the TM personally got into the act and got many things going. Today MHF is relieved of its debts and apparently seems to have a fairly good bank balance. The administration is moving smoothly with the introduction of the General Manager.

In performance there is "hot and cold" news. The Senior team failed to qualify for the World Cup but came close by being in the qualifier final. World ranking improved from 16th to 15th. The Juniors despite home ground advantage did not improve on their position. The age group qualified for the final of the Under 18 Asia Cup.

The national team's discipline issues continues to remain a problem as nothing concrete is being done to check the matter. Officials maneuver and manipulate situations for players to strength themselves thereby encouraging cliques and creating pathways to woo them to their set-ups. This results in "money" becoming the much needed commodity thereby creating a "greed" appetite where"vices" become the natural foothold for players.

Now that the TM has moved to put MHF in a better position, there are people already looking at positioning themselves with affiliates and certain officials in MHF to become the successful elected officials at the next MHF BGM , which probably shall be in October or November 2010. Strategical moves are already underway and the talk for contest for Deputy President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer is already being ear-marked. The operations of MHF and the actions of some of its officials is under careful scrutiny while connections are being made with the affiliates to "smooth" their passage to the positions.

The TM would not be contested as parties realise they too need him. People who have been in the peripherals of MHF and former hockey internationals are doing whatever they can including using financial resources or attention seeking or remaining in the background and pulling the strings, all to display their capabilities. It is a "soft" selling approach as it is early days to declare any interest.

Sometimes one wonders whether it is hockey they are interested in or more because they want to be close to the TM. As time moves in 2010, many matters will emerge to confirm or dismiss some of the stories that have been outlined. What is important is the TM must be aware that such a potential scenario could exists and decide if it is good for Malaysian hockey. TM himself too has to decide if he still wants to helm MHF in the years to come. If so the TM must see to changes that bring the right people for the various portfolios, so as MHF works as a cohesive team embedded with the principles of excellence. Excellence has to start from the top and not just talked about but practiced.

Monday, January 4, 2010

History of foreign coaches in Malaysian hockey - "Whose story?"

The latest New Sunday Times January 3rd, in page 69 carried a full page article titled: "Study history before getting foreign help". The writer is Poon Fook Loke, a renowned national player who was part of the legendary 1975 Malaysian hockey team. Fook Loke is a courageous person to dictate the history of foreign help to Malaysian hockey and in his usual style has provided an analysis.

Before i get into Fook Loke's version of history, i must state that "history" can also be termed as "his" story ie. the person who tells the story. In the case of the article, i am of the opinion that it is more "his" story as opposed to history because some of the underlying issues do not correspond to what were the prevailing issues at hand.

I do not want to go to 1954 or 1966 or 1968 or even 1970, rather let me stick to the issues of more modern times i e 1990s and onwards. Before we get to the 1990s, in the 80s Malaysia had missed the 1986 World Cup and 1988 Olympics. This obviously became a concern for the administrators in MHF which was exacerbated by the failure to qualify for the 1990 World Cup. It became inevitable that MHF had to secure the services of a full time foreign coach. He was no other than Terry Walsh, who did a great job taking Malaysia to the 1992 Olympics. The point here being the mandate was to QUALIFY FIRST. This, i believe, Terry did deliver and inadvertently Fook Loke omitted this aspect. As to what happened at the Olympics in 1992, again the question to ask, "Was there a contractual target"? My believe is that MHF's pre-occupation and target was to qualify. Notwithstanding that Malaysia came out 9th at the Olympics and this has been Malaysia's highest achievement in any Olympics till today.

As Terry was endeavouring to achieve the desired impact for the national team , their unfortunate failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup saw forces at work to dismantle his services. They were successful but in his place came the Volker Knapp and Lissek combination. Lissek came as a Consultant and his "student" Knapp was the full time coach. Malaysia made it to 1996 Olympics and the 1998 World Cup. For the 1998 Commonwealth Games we became runners-up. Again the point being the mandate to Qualify for Olympics and World Cup was fulfilled. So effectively the decade of 90 with foreign coaches in the Malaysian hockey arena saw us fulfill our mandate of qualifying for 2 Olympics and 1 World Cup.

Then the 2000 Olympics saw the combination of Lissek as Consultant and local lad Stephen Van Huizen. Again the mandate to qualify was fulfilled. Fortunately for 2002 World Cup,
Malaysia as host we did not have to go through the rigorous qualifying process. Malaysia performed well on home ground in the 2002 World Cup. The coach here was Lissek and Stephen was his assistant.

By now Lissek had overstayed his presence as coach and we failed to qualify for the 2004 Olympics. Lisseks tactics and style had become an "open book" and opposing coaches knew his modus operandi like the "back of their palms". He wanting his players to adopt a robotic style, a defensive approach to the game plus only focusing attack from the right flank and to score majority of the goals through short corners became predictable. This literally killed the natural flair of our players. Above all the players became very "mechanical" and lost the ability to become thinking players. The point being neither the people in MHF nor NSC were far sighted enough to see this. Time and time again, although we had local coaches in charge, due to the sheer experience Lissek had, even though his ideas were about 8 years behind time, he was still used as consultant. This meant that we were still adopting strategy and tactics that cannot cope in modern hockey

This meant we failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and thereafter for the 2008 Olympics. The local coaches were a product of Lissek, who by now has became very "local". Modern hockey is in a "dynamic" progression but Malaysian hockey has remained "stagnant" because our coaches did not have the ability to keep breast with the developments that were taking place. So generations of our players over the last 8 years could not compete in the modern day hockey.

The trend would have been "checked" by Beng Hai and Saiful but unfortunately they were riddled with enough problems that were swept under the carpet by team management and certain officials. Beng Hai and Saiful tried hard to change the embedded "Lissek " style in their game approach but the "layers" were too thick and it was not a easy task. Even without a consultant these 2 local coaches took the team to the finals of the qualifiers and the team "cracked" in the last 13 minutes. I believe they did a good job. However, can our local coaches stand shoulder to shoulder with the top 5 to 8 coaches in the world and hold detailed technical discussions?

It is managing the various "sciences" whether it is sports, medical, nutritional. bio-mechanical, psychology or so forth that is becoming the key ingredients in modern hockey. This can only be measured by qualification and "success profile". We can "argue till the cows come home" but this is where are local coaches suffer. Major part of the reason is that the "establishment" had not created nor demanded the environment of "excellence" and therefore such things do not come naturally. The deeper aspect is that the decision makers themselves have not adopted the principles of excellence and as such they cannot demand such standards from others So everything ends up like a "curry masak" approach.

The other point that Fook Loke raised was the lack of development work that previous foreign coaches failed to undertake. I am in agreement except that i ask Fook Loke to check whether the terms of their employment covered that scope. If it was so and the foreign coaches had not done their bit, i think the fault here also lies with MHF and NSC. However my understanding is that the foreign coaches were employed for the national teams.

Therefore i believe that Fook Loke had painted a picture without really realising what was the original mandate of the foreign coaches. Unless Malaysia qualifies, we cannot write a story of the failure to be ranked high in a tournament in which we may not even participate. So Fook Loke, the pre-occupation was to qualify because of our history of failing to qualify and the foreign coaches were secured to do just that.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The "U-turns" by Sports Schools!!!!!!!

I received this comment and have edited and formatted it as an article. The comment gives the impression that the Sports School policies are made as and when it is deem fit. If the comment is right then there is a lack of consistency in the Sports School. "Consistency" is a key element in sports and if the Sports Schools fail in adopting such standards then it provides a dim reflection of the Sports Schools. Ultimately too Malaysian sports.

I hope for the sake of sports in Malaysia the comment is not right. Maybe someone can through some "light" on the issues.

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Re: Appointment of foreign coach - "Could it be an...":

Is there a screw-up in National Sports School ?

In 2007, all the form 1 hockey boys were send to SSBP and there was no intake for form 1 hockey boys into SSBJ. The principal of the school voiced out that the school will only take players from form four onwards as elite players. The reason was to allow individual events students a priority into SSBJ at form 1.

The subject matter got so hot that meetings with Education Ministry, MSN and MHF took place where BJSS firmly stood by their decision. All types of reasons were cooked up for their stand.

Today, BJSS has quietly made a U-turn in their decision to enrol form 1 hockey boys back.

Now, with the hockey National league in progress, SSBP has openly allowed their form 4 and form 5 boys to play for clubs BUT not SSBJ. SSBJ not only stopped their form 4 and form 5 boys but also their pra-u boys from participating in the National league. Some of these pra-u boys are already in the national junior team.

Bear in mind that this is one of the best platform for the players to perform and earn an entry into national squad. To make matters worst, one of the pra-u student has chosen to leave SSBJ to play for the clubs. Will SSBJ make another u-turn in this matter or will there be many more u-turns to come?

Unlike any other schools, National Sports School play a very important role in preparing and delivering young promising sportsman with power, discipline and education for the country. Its responsibilities includes giving proper educations covering all topics which the students might have left out during their absence in training or tournament including the monitoring process. This could be easily solved by giving a lap-top to students. But far more important role of the National sports school is to produce high performance players who will be able to compete international tournaments.

The sports school boys who exceed their current potential performance can only more up to higher level if they are exposed to higher level games. Discipline and education should not be the reason for the sports school to hold them back.

Lets not just look into the box but look beyond. Don't live in a small world but explore it. What we repeatedly do should make discipline and excellence not an act but a habit."