By S.S. Dhaliwal
It are the lessons in life that Tai Beng Hai learnt from his late father that will now serve him in his quest to ensure Malaysia qualifies for the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi.
Beng Hai arrived from Invercargill last night to pay his final respects to his beloved father, Tai Chin Seng who passed away Tuesday after being involved in a hit and run accident on Sunday morning in Taiping.
The funeral services will commence at noon today and Beng Hai was driven straight from KLIA to Taiping upon his arrival last night by his best friend M. Sambu, a former international.
Beng Hai recalled how his father had always emphasized on the need to do one’s best in their chosen field. And one of the lessons Beng Hai learnt from his father was to aim for the top.
Chin Seng, 77 succumbed to his injuries despite an operation to remove a blood clot and Beng Hai was praying that his father would recover, but fate dealt a cruel blow.
“This is fated and something we have to accept in life. I had to return to pay my respects as he was so proud of my hockey career,” said Beng Hai.
“Right from the time I was in school until I made the national team, my father kept encouraging me to play hockey.
“He used to be so happy to see my name and picture appear in the newspapers and I sensed that he was happy with my involvement in hockey, always wanting me to aim for the top.
Beng Hai last met his father upon the completion of the Test Matches against Australia and said there was never any indication that that would be their last meeting.
Upon completion of the funeral, Beng Hai will head for KLIA today and make his way back to Invercargill where Malaysia opens accounts in the qualifiers against Austria on Saturday.
“The pitch is quite bumpy but we have had five sessions since we arrived last Sunday and that has allowed the players to get used to it,” said Beng Hai.
“My concern is really the winds as it can get very chilly and it has been raining the past few days. So this will affect thr players somewhat.
“But that is something that we have to overcome as the team is more then ready to take on the opposition once the tournament gets underway.
"The players are focussed on the task ahead and have been working hard since our arrival."
When asked if the good performances of Pakistan and Japan, the two Asian teams playing in the qualifiers at France was something that could provide his team with a confidence booster, Beng Hai had this to say;
“We will take it one match at a time and not underestimate any team in the tournament. What is important is that we give teams their due respect but not fear them.
“A good start on Saturday will set into motion our quest to make the World Cup and I have confidence in the ability of the players selected to undertake this task.”
And from the heavens, Beng Hai will have his father looking over him as he guides Malaysia step by step to a place in New Delhi.