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.

FIH Observer Ondorza should resign


Monday, 18 Jan. 2010

Why FIH ‘Observer’ Ondorza should also resign?

We in India are in an embarrassing, unusual, unfortunate and uncomfortable situation of demanding resignation of an FIH official. This plea bears consideration to issues and facts that came up last week on the Indian soils, which centers around the personality in question.

Case for this is made out on two counts: One, he unnecessarily interfered in what is pure a domestic affair for which we hope he had no mandate from the FIH.

Two, except two States, all 31 State Units that had been given affiliation by the Hockey India has no women as Secretary or President. He failed to 'observe' gender equality, which is definitely his mandate.

Let us now go into the details.

Now that Hockey India’s nominated president AK Mattoo has tendered his resignation, it is appropriate Ontonio van Ondorza, the FIH vice president also do the same, for the simple reason his articulated views were not accepted by the authorities here. In public offices, credibility and image are things of importance.

Ondorza exceeded his brief and has taken stand on certain domestic issues on which we feel he should have no say or right, to start with.

His outbursts – that we all saw with wide eyes in a nationally ‘Live’ telecast program -- do not behove of a visiting dignitary of a global organization.

He has come here as Hockey India election Observer.

But went to Pune, where the players stopped practice sessions demanding their grievances. We feel he should not have gone there in the first place.

When this demand started and practice session stopped, Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi was in the same Belewadi complex along with Maharashtra Chief Minister to inaugurate a State level departmental sports meet. But he did not go to hockey players, perhaps he thought it is a developing situation, it is the duty of Hockey India. Whatever, it was his position.

However, this gentle man chose to go with the Hockey India officials to Pune, and shared the dais on a matter that is totally domestic in character. He openly took sides was dragging the FIH’s name in every sentence he spoke.

He also went further in a ‘Live’ television show in the same night. He authoritatively asserted that the present lot of players will not get any sympathy from FIH community and all the visiting teams of the World Cup; he even advocated selection of another team. When the anchor, a renowned television personality, Arnab Goswami, posed him straight forward ‘is it not interference from the FIH in Indian team selection, is not the FIH bring pressure on the players’, he simply ducked, un-plucked his earphones, saying he is pulling out of the show.

This was in bad taste, and don’t think anybody in the FIH would like their own top official behaving in this distasteful fashion in a national television show – in country where the FIH is organizing the World Cup on its own for the first time.

His views on many matters (hockey is not a professional sports, hockey does not have money, no country pays for their players) looked academic, outdated and completely out of sync with the reality that exists in this part of the world. Anybody who heard his views would have easily made to believe the FIH is living in a time warp. Those issues he spoke had no contextual application as the point here in India was credibility of the administrators, rest were only details.

Ondorzo, quoting himself as a player who never demanded money for playing the country, (we appreciate this, and the whole lot of Indian players are also dong the same) have put the Indian players on bad light. Indian players a system of payment to come up, and demanded an assurance in writing. The issue here is, where does the money that comes to the Federation go. It is a question of credibility. Ondorzo’s views therefore appeared premature, unacceptable to anybody who watched the week long drama in India.

A player from New Zealand recently withdrew from World Cup because it affects his new job he got as a teacher. What will Ondorza have to say on this? Will he doubt the players’ patriotism? He did not ask money, but stayed away from World Cup due to monetary issues. Will Ondorzo now go to New Zealand and belittle the Kiwi player? That player has chosen his job than playing for the country, after all.

In India players are employed, which means they are professional. Leading clubs in Europe, Australia and even in Bangladesh pay for the player’s toil. India in the past had a monthly salary for the India players and the same is in vogue in Pakistan.

He has not understood India is not Venezuela.

He also expressed profound surprise players going ‘strike’. He enlightened us nowhere in any part of the world this has happened. All the statements he made were sweeping in nature.

A national coach in the Netherlands was shunted out before the 2004 Olympics as players revolted, for instance. This has happened numerous times in India before. If Ondorzo does not know all these, we are sorry.

In view of the developments that had taken place in the last four days – Hockey India ready to pay money to players and AK Mattoo’s resignation – Ondorza also owes moral responsibility. His stated position has been rebuffed. He should take this seriously.

Ondorzo definitely has offended our sentiments, questioned the players motive for which he has no business.

If he comes for the World Cup, he has meet the same players whom he castigated. There is only one way to avoid this embarrassment for him.

His resignation will do a great deal good for the FIH’s image, which is genuinely trying to improve the lot of Indian hockey.

Further, if he continues to visit India as he has been doing now, he might unnecessarily bring bad press to the FIH. He may have to do lot of explaining to the media, which will give negative publicity to hockey in general, FIH in particular.

Now that, as rebuff to his advocated views, Hockey India is going to pay for the players and the new dispensation is going to work out a regular payment system, Ondorza must understand his views did not have any takers. He has to save his face now.

Another reason for his exit is, Hockey India electoral college. Except in a couple of cases, all the President and Secretaries of 33 State unites are men. He failed to see gender equality. What is he observing then?

This we will discuss shortly in detail.

--s2h Team


President to decide on foreign coach

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) coaching committee have chosen to remain clear of the foreign coach issue, leaving it solely in the hands of their president.
The coaching committee held a meeting yesterday, and came out with a plan to select two local caches each for the national, Project 2013 and Under-16 teams.
“We leave the issue of the foreign coach in the hands of the president (Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah). It is his prerogative to name one, when he gets a confirmation.
“The coaching committee, on its part, will suggest six names from the pool of coaches that we have for the three national teams, and forward it to the council for endorse ment,” said MHF coaching committee chairman Dr Balbir Singh.
The pool of coaches consists of Wallace Tan, Collin Sta Maria, Stephen van Huizen, Sarjit Singh,Tai Beng Hai, K. Rajan, K. Dharmaraj and many more grassroots coaches.
However, many of the above coaches are either inactive, or have opted out like Sarjit did at the meeting yesterday.
Beng Hai was the national interim coach for the whole of last year, and his contract was further extended for another six months after the New Zealand World Cup Qualifier.
And what happens to the structure when the foreign coach is hired?
“The local coaches will still remain at their spots, while the foreign coach will be the overall head,” said Dr Balbir.
The only coach MHF have been in contact with is Roelant Oltmans from the Netherlands, but his asking price of Euro10,000 and Euro 6,000 for his assistant is too steep for MHF to accept.
Malaysia will be involved in the Azlan Shah Cup, Com monwealth Games and Asian Game this year. The Asian Games in China offers a direct entry to the 2012 London Olympics.