By Jugjet Singh
THE ground work, workshops, and briefings are over and done with, and starting from tomorrow, hockey in the country will finally see systematical development to groom players for the next decade.
Armed with RM2 million from the Prime Minister’s department, the privately run 1Mas Hoki programme will see 14 states concentrating on 60 players each for four major assignments.
1Mas will cater for different age groups to prepare players fort the 2013 and 2017 Junior World Cups, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea.
This will be the first time that a systematic long-term plan has gotten off the blueprint stage, and will be run as a private entity, and salaried staff.
Their only link to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) is reports received through Development Committee Chairman Ken Pereira, and there is supposed to be no other meddling.
And Lim Chiow Chuan, a former Malaysian international, has quit his job as coach of the Singapore national team after helping the Republic to qualify for the China Asian Games, and will now be the Development Director of 1Mas.
There will also be a nine-member watch-dog committee to monitor its progress, and it is made up with the likes of National Sports Council director general Datuk Zolkeples Embong, National Sports Institute Director General Datuk Ramlan Aziz, former coach and team manager Datuk R. Yogeswaran and former international Datuk Poon Fook Loke.
The above paragraphs have been a mouthful and dry to a certain degree because that is what a blueprint is supposed to sound like.
In its actual implementation, the commitment from states and response from parents, and how much the kids enjoy it, will eventually decide if it turns into a success story or goes bust after 12 months.
Ambitious as it may sound, many on the ground are optimistic of its success because the plan caters to have a strong pool of players for targeted tournaments.
The idea is to train the players for two hours, three times a week at their own states, and then have a tournament to cater for this group.
To top it up, the MHF have also dangled up to RM15,000 for a state which runs an under-18 league successfully with 18 teams or above. The minimum is RM3,000 for a six-team league.
There are many ideas being thrown around, and money is also not a problem to develop players for the next seven years.
The Prime Minister is also expected to launch the 1Mas Hoki programme in the middle of September, and one can’t think of anything else Malaysian hockey would need to battle with the growing dominance from Europe and Oceania.
On a parting note to cheer up those who have a football World Cup hang-over, I reproduce an e-mail I received:
God, and the devil were each having a holiday in hyper-space. The topic of conversation turned to who has the best football team. Much to the God’s surprise the devil proposed a match to settle their dispute.
As God was leaving he said to the devil, “Don’t you realise that all the ‘good’ players go to heaven?”
The devil, smiling, responded: “Yeah, but we’ve got all the refs!”