Monday, January 18, 2010

Lets stick with the locals

National Sports Council Director Datul Zolkeples Embong (left) with Tai Beng Hai.

Comment by Jugjet Singh

THE foreign hockey coach issue has been dragging for more than a year, with no end in sight, prompting the coaching committee to yet again rely on local manpower.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have been look ing for a coach ever since Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah became the president, but there has been no luck in landing a creditable coach.
The idea is noble, but only a stop-gap measure which is unlikely to produce results, or even confirm that Malaysia will qualify for the 2012 London Olympics by winning the Asian Games gold medal.
That is why the MHF should just forget the expensive gesture to go ahead with their plans to hire a Dutch coach and his assistant, which will cost they about RM100,000 a month including fringe benefits,
History has shown that Asian teams are at their best when coached by Asians. Malaysia, India and Pakistan have tried many times and failed just as many times when they banked on foreigners who walk into the team, and start changing the playing style, which eventually causes the players to revolt, and do badly in tournaments.
South Korea, on the other hand, are doing much better with local coaches, while Japan is also slowly catching up with local power.
The coaching committee will finalise their national, Project 2013 and Under-16 coaches by next week, and they will be tapping from their pool of locals.
Many of the preferred names have gone through the grind, from development to clubs to national sides and know the players better than the players’ parents.
This is a plus point which no foreign coach in the world can master, especially if he is given a short-term target, to do the impossible like handle a 15th ranked team for a few months and then turn them into Olympians.
The Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division is testimony of the sagging state of the sport, as out of the six teams, only three have quality players while the rest are still relying on old horses.
Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club have nine national players, while Tenaga Nasional the other half of the national team and both finished 1-2, as expected.
Maybank, Sapura and Nur Insafi are just making up the numbers, while UniKL-Ibil are the most exciting side in the MHL.
Exciting because the team has an average age of 22, and are budding Project 2013 players.
Exciting because the management took the challenge to foot the bill not for medals, but for the future of the country. These are the players who will be around to carry our challenge in the next decade, and spending a tidy sum on them is an excellent idea.
Banking on 16 foreigners has proven to be a disaster for Nur Insafi, as they are second from the bottom and could only beat local youths UniKL-Ibil 2-1 in Johor Baru last week end.
The MHF have left the foreign coach issue solely in the hands of their president, and being a wise man, he is expected to make a wise choice.
On another note, the Asian Hockey Federation website is finally running again after hibernating for eight months, but the MHF website is still in a comma, that is went into in the middle of the Junior World Cup last year.