Saturday, April 22, 2006

Failure, but where do we go from here? (21/04/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 21/04/2006
Headline : Failure, but where do we go from here?

THE best planned and managed programme can go astray.
The national hockey team's debacle in Changzhou, China, in the World
Cup qualifiers where they are now consigned to the 9th-12 play-offs, is
certainly one of those programmes which have gone awry.
There was so much hope in the team, especially after their Melbourne
Commonwealth Games bronze medal effort four weeks ago.
The opening 1-0 defeat to Japan in the opening match did a lot of harm.
In terms of preparation - training, friendly matches and competition -
everything was taken care of.
The team of 18 players also had 19 officials to take care of them -
team manager Nur Azmi Ahmad, his assistant Tai Beng Hai, coach Wallace
Tan, his assistant Perak Abu, a doctor, two psychologists (one local and
one foreign), a physiotherapist, a fitness trainer, two masseurs, a
dietician, two cooks, a video cameraman - who were directly involved with
the team while Lim Chiow Chuan (AsiaComm project manager), Murali Menon
(advisor to the Cabinet Committee on Sports), Paul Lissek (development
technical director) and Sarjit Singh (National Juniors coach) were also
So where did we go wrong?
Some blamed the chilly weather, players falling sick or injured, the
pressure to qualify, not being able to peak for two tournaments in a
short spell, too many cooks spoiling the soup, under-estimating their
opponents, lack of capable substitutes and so on.
Everyone will have a reason but the bigger question is, what happens
after this? What we need is constructive criticisms.
This scribe has his own views but talked to coaches of past national
teams from different eras to come up with a more balanced view.
Among the coaches I spoke to were Datuk R. Yogeswaran (MHF coaching
chairman and former national player in the 1960s and coach), C.
Paramalingam (former national centre-forward in the 1960s and coach), Sri
Shanmuganathan (skipper of the 1975 World Cup semi-finalist national team
and former coach) and Stephen Van Huizen (former national player in the
1980s and 1990s and coach).
Each had his view but all agreed that what happens after this will
decide the future of Malaysian hockey.
Losing matches, especially narrow loses is part and parcel of the game,
but being fried by the French who inflicted a 4-1 defeat, is embarrassing.
It was obvious attention was not paid to France, who finished eighth in
the Junior World Cup in Hobart in 2001. Malaysia finished 12th.
Inviting the French to play friendly matches recently did more good for
But utmost on the minds of all, was the December Doha Asian Games,
where the champion will qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
Will the team be able to recover from this debacle? Is there going to a
Are we going to allow our emotions to rule or make rational and
probably unpopular decision to make things right?
Now is the time for the best hockey brains in Malaysia to come together.
For that to happen, the team have to be oozing with character - from
the team manager and coaches to players.
There is without doubt the present team needs further fine tuning in
many areas - starting from the basics.
We also have to ask whether our local competition is good enough for
our national players to excel in international competitions.
It is a common belief that the strength of the local competition will
reflect the performance of the national team in international
It would be interesting to see what Wallace has to say in his final
Emphasis must be paid to the report and not just push into a cabinets.
Hockey is one of the eight core sports the Government is giving full
support and thisn is why they have to rise from this failure!

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