MALAYSIAN HOCKEY AT CROSSROAD: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION*

*”FOR HONOUR & PRIDE OF MALAYSIA”*

By Maninderjit Singh (Mike)

The month of November 2019 is a crucial stage, as the Malaysian Men’s Hockey Team plays Great Britain for final slot to Tokyo 2020 Olympics on 2 & 3 in London. On the 8th November, FIH would announce the host of top events such as the Men’s & Women’s World Cup. And the key important event, the MHC Congress is slated for 16th November 2019 to elect the new Office Bearers to chart the future of Malaysian Hockey for the term 2019-2024.

Therefore, after receiving numerous calls from many Former Internationals & Officials about the current ongoing situation and the reality of Malaysian Hockey status, I have decided to pen down my personal thoughts with no intention to bring any disrepute to anyone.

With that, I will divide into 3 segments i.e. 1. Prevailing Issues 2. Congress 3. Future of Malaysian Hockey.

I will be writing it part by part as when time permits. Kindly follow and thanks for the undivided support.

PART 1: PREVAILING ISSUES

1. The Executive Board is the supreme body that manages the operations, policies & direction of Malaysian Hockey. The current EB is divided between its members. Appointment of Acting CEO is not provided in any provision of the Constitution and whether this appointment got its endorsement at EB level. Many events such as Press Conference & events are not well attended by EB members for the reason best known to them.

I was told that many Affiliates has written in for reinstatement of Council into the Constitution but it was not implemented. The General Council is needed as it an important facets for communication between National & Affiliates to implement the policies & objectives. Council will also act as a check & balance entity to ensure that proper governance & administration are adhered by EB Office Bearers.

2. Targets set by MHC EB which were not achieved:

– Top 8 in 2016 Junior World Cup but finished number 11th. We failed to qualify via merit & due to Pakistan Visa issues & withdrawal, Malaysian were called in as replacement.

– Failed to qualify for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

– KL SEA 2017 – Women Indoor Team failed to be in Finals

– Top 8 in the 2018 World Cup but finished second last ie 14 out of 16 teams

– Top 3 in 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but finished 5th position

– 2018 Asian Games – Men to win Gold but Silver. Commendable performance.

– Women to make the Semis but failed

– Women to qualify the Final Qualifiers of Tokyo Olympics but failed

– Winning the 2019 FIH World Series Final in Kuala Lumpur and finished second and losing to Italy 2-4 was a history

– Numerous Sultan Azlan Shah Cup & Sultan of Johor Cup targets were off and didn’t achieve accordingly

3. MHC Competitions is in doldrums as many decision made that hindered the promotion & development of the sports ie Limiting only 14 teams in Malaysian Junior League (used to be more than 30 teams); Abolishing the MHL Division 2 (14 teams with approximately 250 players do not have teams) & limiting to maximum of 8 teams for next MHL season; National U21 & Champion Schools were ignored; Tun Abdul Razak Cup postponed 3 times and played without National Players & clashed with National Team Assignment and No Indoor & Hockey 5’s National Championships.

4. Insufficient Coaching Courses & no clear potential pathway for new Coaches to play a role or being in the set up. Top Coaches were removed & replaced due to voicing out the truth & facts about the performance of National teams. Since 2015, I may be wrong but there were no participants sent abroad for FIH Coaching Courses. Locally, hardly 3 to 5 Coaching Courses were held and usually the benchmark is 10 Level 1; 10 Level 2; 2 Level 3 with Sports Science courses.

For the last decade, the same Coaches are appointed and closed the doors to the potential coaches to grow and get into the Set up as current Coaches in MHC Office is afraid of their position & rice bowl. Many young potential Coaches which are involved in MHL, MJHL & Razak Cup who needs a proper ecosystem to lead them to be great Coaches and not creating a “controlling policies” to block young Coaches to serve hockey in this Country. Is time to open the doors for the young modern hockey Coaches who understand the latest training methodology & modern hockey with proper Innovation & Sports Science knowledge.

5. Development Program

After 1MAS Development Program, MHC announced that a new National Development Hockey Program will be announce since last year and is yet to be seen or to hear about it. Currently, MHC is riding on the MOE’s program such as PLD, State Sports School which is a redundant activity & overlapping the duties & responsibility. MHC has to have its own Development Plan ie Short Term & Long Term & working with its Affiliates & Clubs.

The other active program is “Thunderbolt” which adopts National or State Sports school & develop the sports. Many has voiced their opinion that this controlled program doesn’t benefit the full spectrum of players in the country, as we can see that on annual basis the same top 4 teams in MJHL are from this Thunderbolt program. Many other teams, who do not get such privileges has created a huge gap of playing standards between the participating teams & players. Therefore, there is a need for a detailed mechanism to address these issues and come up with a more prominent solutions for all other teams to compete at fair level.

6. High Performance Committee

No clarity of Information & direction. This Committee should be evaluating the National Teams’ Program; Fitness; Training Methodology: Technical & Tactical; Adoption of Innovation; Technology Implication & Sport Science Application. This Committee has failed its compliance and depended on ISN & MSN.

7. Foreign Consultants

Since 2015, total of 8 Foreign Consultants have worked with MHC:

– Neil Hawgood

– David Bell

– Terry Walsh

– Paul Lissek

– Michael McCann

– Martijn Drijver

– Taeke Taekema

– Roelant Oltmans

So much money spent but didn’t achieved the desirable results. The biggest test for Oltmans will be over this weekend in London.

8. World Rankings

Before 2015, Malaysian team has reached 8th in 2002 & 12th in 2014 & 2015. Currently, Malaysia ranked 11th but this will be a temporary stay as to whether Malaysia qualifies to Tokyo 2020. But public announcement were made that Malaysia will be top 8 by December 2018 but it didn’t. Teams like Japan, & South Africa will catch up soon as they have qualified to Tokyo 2020. Others like Canada & France are doing extremely well and may overtake Malaysia if we failed to qualify to Tokyo 2020.

Previously, in 2017 MHC decided that playing in FIH Pro League is insignificant and will have a major financial implications. For any team to be in top 10 in World Hockey, the team has to play consistently in Pro League, World Cup & Olympics, that’s how the rankings are tabulated. If MHC said to be top 8 in world then Pro League is a priority. Do you know that Pro League points are more prominent that Olympic Games. By playing in Pro League your team gets 16 quality matches, world ranking, top 4 direct qualifications and our local fans gets to watch world class teams in action.

9. Junior World Cup Program – 2021 & Beyond

No emphasis given to such programs as they believe that is not an important element in the structure of National Teams. Project 2021 is in dire straits without any international exposure, no full time camps, and no international competitions (only annual SOJC). Next year is the Junior Asia Cup in June in Dhaka, Bangladesh which is less than 8 months and 2021 JWC in less than 18 months but target set by MHC is TOP 6 but in reality their periodization plan shows otherwise.

Even No National Age Group Teams such as National 16, National 18 to cater for the future of 2023, 2025 JWC & Youth Olympic Games.

10. National Calendar of Events – Domestic & International

When organizing Calendar, the importance of setting of the dates for such domestic & international events which will allow better participations, professionalism, budgeting & getting sponsors on board.

Currently, the MHC only provides yearly Calendar whereas most top Nations work on a 4 years cycle Calendar which permits better planning & organization. How do the Affiliates & Clubs plan their internal program without proper details? Or else forever, hockey programs are managed on ad hoc methodology.

11. Limited Pool of National Players – Senior & Junior Level

Since 2014, the similar players are called upon to represent the National Team. Most the major events are represented by 90% of this similar players. For an example, India calls about 60 players to training camps. A good National Senior Team must have an internal and external pressure of players competing among themselves to make the grades. When the team has quality of 40 players, the Coaches could make proper decision and this will create “hunger” for the players to perform in training & matches.

The intention to write is to ensure that the standard of hockey is returned to its former glory, so that someday it may surpass it. It is a matter of national pride that Malaysia re-attains her position as one of the top teams in the world.

Will continue to write the Part 2: Congress as soon as possible.

*Maninderjit Singh (Mike)*

Former Hockey Internationals

31st October 2019