By Jugjet Singh
THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have been look ing for a base to call home for as far back as 1996, and two attempts have failed to rise from its blue print to reality.
But it looks like the idea is finally going to take shape, as MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has set his mind on it.
He mentioned yesterday that MHF is tired of squatting at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, and will look for an alternative site for his officials to work, and players to play.
But first, he said the states must decide if they want him for another term, as MHF elections will be held at the end of the year.
Tengku Abdullah was frank when he said that he will continue with his work in hockey if the states nominate him for re-election. But if they had any other candidate which is more capable, he will step aside and concentrate on football, where he has been elected as the FA of Malaysia’s deputy president.
The Pahang Prince said this during a MoU signing cer emony with Tenaga Nasional, which will inject another RM1.5 million into hockey.
Tengku Abdullah was actually shoved into the MHF hot- seat by Sultan Azlan Shah when Raja Nazrin Shah decided not to seek re-election, and he has mentioned many times that it started as a tour-of-duty, but he is beginning to like the sport and is willing to contribute more than his two years at office.
In the short span, he took the Federation out of debt, and now there is plenty of cash to run domestic tournaments like the Malaysia Hockey League, and the Razak Cup.
Sponsors have been kind to MHF, and even the Prime Minister’s department will pump in RM2 million a year to run the ongoing 1Mas Hoki programme to unearth young tal ent.
Tengku Abdullah, who was amazed with the quality of hockey played by the top-six teams in the Champions Trophy, has set a target of Malaysia breaking into the top-10 bracket in the near future.
Towards this he knows we must beat South Korea, India, Pakistan, Japan and China more often to become the best in Asia first.
And the only way to achieve this is to have a large pool of fit and brilliant minds, as World Champions Australia showed when they brushed aside England 4-0 for their third consecutive Champions Trophy on Sunday.
Work has already started in Malaysia towards this end, with Tengku Abdullah and his council adopting a systematic approach. Something which has never happened in the history of Malaysian hockey, which had relied more on a knee-jerk reaction.
Coming back to a place where MHF can call home, a plan was hatched to turn the Tun Razak Stadium into an academy which will train players from Malaysia and this region, but it was shot down by the Sports Ministry.
Then, MHF placed another proposal to turn the second pitch in Bukit Jalil as their home and also an academy, but it was again shot down by the Sports Ministry.
There have been some strong undercurrents which have been blocking this sound plan for reasons known to many, but only voiced out in contempt in the corridors and coffee- shops.
So, Tengku Abdullah has to be a strong swimmer and keep his sights firmly on the objective to turn MHF into an independent body, for there are bound to be strong undercurrents from those who would not like to see them free and independent, and with a house to call home.