Captain of the shadows
Saturday, July 05, 2014 - Malay Mail
R. RAMA KRISHNAN etched his name as a prolific player in Malaysian hockey, but many do not even remember him.because he has always kept a low profile.
Yet his contributions to the nation would put to shame some of the players from the current generation.
Rama, who skippered the national team at the 1978 World Cup, has always shunned publicity. When he turned 61 on June 18, he can look back with pride at his hockey career, having played in two Olympics (1972 and 1976), three World Cups (1973, 1975, 1978), two Asian Games (1974 and 1978) and four Seap/Sea Games besides a host of international tournaments.
A righthalf who could play in any midfield position, he came from an era when there was a big pool of talented players andcompetition for the national team was keen. That he was a first XI player throughout was no mean feat.
Rama hails from Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan) in Perak, which produced several hockey greats like C. Paramalingam, A. Francis, Thor Chang Meng and, from the later generation, R. Shanker and Prabaharan Nair He started playing hockey as a schoolboy on the well-known Speedy Field. A student of St. Anthony’s School, he was not short of company on the field in the evenings when the town’s hockey enthusiasts converged.
Rama represented Perak in the Razak Cup tournament as a 17-year-old while still in school in 1970, and made his national debut in a Test series against Singapore the same year.
He moved to Selangor in 1974 before turning out for Kuala Lumpur from 1981 to 1983. He retired in 1984 after a short coaching stint with KL and as assistant national coach to the late Sidek Othman.
“I enjoyed every moment of my playing days, but had always kept a low profile since my schooldays,” said Rama, who has a daughter Ganeshree Devi, 29, who got married recently, and son Shri Ganesh, 27.
“I have always preferred to stay out of the limelight and instead spend time by myself. “I gave the media a wide berth after having heard from seniors of how they had been misquoted, which landed them in trouble."
One of the unforgettable moments in his illustrious hockey career came when Malaysia defeated Holland 2-1 to qualify for the semifinals of the 1975 World Cup.
Malaysia had finished second last in his debut World Cup in 1973 and naturally, the feeling of having qualified for the semifinal was overwhelming.
The 1975 team were inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2004.
Rama started his career with Central Electricity Board (now TNB) in 1973 before he joined Rubber Research Institute as research assistant in 1974. In 1983, he joined KL City Hall as a health inspector.
In 1992, he decided to read law at Buckingham University and after three years, returned to be a legal adviser and company secretary with a private firm till he retired recently.
Asked why he hadn't got involved at the grassroots despite his wide experience, he said the administration was not ready to accept players in their set-up.
“Somehow, ex-players are not welcomed to share their experience and contribute at the administrative level of the game," said Rama.
“Besides, I married to my wife, Kusala Kumari, after I retired and I just concentrated on building my family and career." But with free time on his hands now, he hoped to help with hockey development if the opportunity arose.
“I don't want to get into the mainstream. I'd happy to share my experience with schoolchildren or hockey academies," said Rama, who was asked to join a team set up by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation to review the national team’s pathetic World Cup performance in The Hague.
“It's not going to be a fault-finding mission but merely how we can move forward and improve Malaysian hockey.”
Rama said what's lacking in hockey today is the passion and love for the game.“No doubt the game and sports in general have moved into the a professional era, but that's all the more reason to play with your heart."