Thursday, October 8, 2009

Be man enough to dig deeper

Azlan Misron scoring a super goal in the Hamburg Masters in 2008.THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) must not forget that ‘boys will be boys’, when they preside over the antics on Malaysia’s top strikers in the Management Committee meet ing today.
MHF office-bearers must also keep in mind that when boys are placed in a camp for a prolonged period, mischief is bound to surface.
And mischief is how this scribe would describe Azlan Misron, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Ismail Abu’s mis adventures that brought shame to their otherwise good conduct in training and tournaments.
Azlan, who had been entrusted with the skipper’s arm band before, and Tengku Ahmad are said to have broken curfew when in training for the Champions Challenge II in June.
Ismail Abu excused himself from weights training to repair his car but was found in a gaming arcade instead.
Today, the Management Committee will listen to what the coaches have to say about the three players and decide if they deserve a rap on the knuckles for being boys, or are referred to the disciplinary board for punishment.
But the discussion must not only focus how to punish the trio, but also have a look at the centralised training or camping system that Malaysia have been practicing for the past decade.
Players like Chua Boon Huat, 29, have spent the majority of their life for the last 10 years in and out of training camps, which sad to say, have yet to land Malaysia a single gold medal even in major qualifiers.
National coach Tai Beng Hai is all for centralise training, as through experience he knows that de-centralising players will see a drastic drop in fitness as Malaysian players are well-known for being a lazy lot when it comes to breaking sweat.
But even Beng Hai admits that more can be done to break the monotony of being in camp, but because of back-to-back tournaments, he never had the time to inject adventure this season, but has plans to make it more exciting next year.
Just ask him for his input and ideas, instead of punishing the coach by placing an axe near his neck, as a bizarre incentive to win gold in the New Zealand Qualifier.
Then there is confirmation from many players, after a random poll, that they are fed-up with team-mates who do not take training seriously, especially the fitness part.
The players lamented that those who do not take training seriously still get selected, and these are the players who throw in the towel in the first half of a match even though Malaysia are only losing by one goal, leaving only a handful carry their load.
They seem to feel that since there are very few talent in the reserve pool, they will be selected for the next tournament anyway.
So, while boys will be boys, the MHF officials must be man enough to look into the bigger picture on why curfew was broken and why Ismail decided to play truant, and why there is discontent among players in the final phase for an important Qualifier.
Lets take a leaf from the Disco 10 episode in 2003, which also involved Tengku Ahmad.
The Disco 10 were banned for one year by the MHF DB for breaking curfew during the FIH Under-21 tournament in Gneizno, Poland in Aug 2003.
But after an appeal by then juniors coach Sarjit Singh, they were given a life-line to play in the 2004 Junior World Cup and some of them like Kelvinder Singh and S. Selvaraju, are now pillars in the national seniors.
Lets be man enough to admit and rectify the shortcomings, and work for gold in New Zealand.

Indian Rope Trick in Hobart 2001

I had the misfortune of watching India beat Argentina 6-1 in the 2001 Junior World Cup finals in Hobart, Australia.
Together with me in Hobart were Malay Mail journalist Johnson Fernandez, Berita Harian journalist V. Ashok and Star journalist S. Ramaguru.
Ironically, there was not a single reporter from India covering the tournament in Hobart, while Malaysia had four journalists. India gold, and Malaysia 12th.
Here is what the India press wrote ...

(Hobart (Australia), October 21
Propelled by a brilliant hat-trick by Deepak Thakur (pic), India’s ‘glory boys’ destroyed Argentina 6-1 to take home the junior World Cup for the first time in the country’s hockey history.

But in reality, the Indian glory boys were actually men, some looked like they were 24-years-old, and one actually wore the number 34 on his jersey.
Naturally, the Argentine boys never had a chance in the final.
Everybody new about it, the FIH, Indian hockey officials, Asian Hockey Federation and even the janitor at the stadium who lamented 'big boys in Indeeea'.
Finally, India have started to x-ray their players, a little too late to undo the damage to their reputation.
There were also two players in the 2001 squad who warmed the bench and never played at all. When asked why bring them for the world cup, an official replied: "They are children of our sponsors."
Selection is biased, which is another well known fact, and that is what India need to rectify next to make their team stronger. Select on merit, not money...

Wikepedia: The Indian rope trick is stage magic said to have been performed in and around India about the 1800s. Sometimes described as "the world’s greatest illusion", it involved a magician, a length of rope, and one or more boy assistants.

Under-18 Indian myth

s2h team

RECENTLY, Indian hockey came in the limelight, and not too surprisingly, it was because of an unfortunate reason - overage players!
To know what happened then and to get the latest on this front, s2h talked to the coach of the U-18 team, Ajay Kumar Bansal, till recently our Junior India coach.
Recollecting those phase of over-age finding mission, Bansal said, "On Hockey India’s call, almost 100 boys turned up for the U-18 trials at Bhopal. Out of 100, 53 were shortlisted and they were made to undergo a digital X-Ray of wrist in order to confirm their age. This method is accepted world over to determine the age"
Bansal and his fellow coaches were extremely upset when 48 out of 53 shortlisted boys were overage! Many of them were even in the legally marriageable age ie over 21. So the camp was temporarily called off and Hockey India announced fresh trials after 10 days.
In the next procedure, all the boys were told to bring their wrist X-ray along with them during trials. Almost 100 boys turned up again. On the basis of the X-ray films they brought, only 35 could qualify for the selection. And those 35 were again X-rayed, this time by Hockey India on their own, and again, 14 were 18-plus.
Thus, 21 boys now and the 5 from the first trials, 26 in total, are now undergoing camp at Bhopal under coach Bansal.
Bansal believes that stern steps should be taken to solve this problem of over age, which is present in almost every sport in India. He mentioned that that the digital X-ray technique was used for the first time in India and insisted now it should be made mandatory for all future age group compettiions and trainings.
“The biggest drawback, if overage players play at the junior level, will be that their career will be shortened and that will in turn, harm the Indian hockey. This is a big problem and we are happy we did something about it” said Bansal.
The team for the U-18 Asia Cup, which will be played at Myanmar in November, will be selected in a few weeks time. Interestingly, this tournament is being held for only the second time, that too after a gap of 8 years, and India are the defending champion!