By Jugjet Singh
THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president and council members finally congratulated national No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar, and as a sweetener, the council also endorsed a RM5,000 bonus for him.
Kumar was named Best Player in Asia by the Asian Hockey Federation, and was also selected as an Asian-All Star player on Jan 15, but he was neither informed about it by the MHF, nor congratulated after the news was published.
However, MHF was better late than never in recognising his talent last Saturday.
The reward and a congratulatory note will be given to him when the Premier Division League champions are decided at the Malacca Stadium and MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah will do the honours.
And the second "better late than never" was when the council set themselves and their players with clear short and long-term goals -- and they duly endorsed it.
The federation has been running without any direction or goals, but has now set five targets to achieve with the intention of developing world class players and officials to bring glory to the nation.
The federation's goals are:
1 Achieving international success at highest level via a road map and journey with targets
2 Lifting the profile of the game at school level in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
3 Attracting and keeping young Malaysians in the game through 'Project Hockey 1MAS'
4 Governing the sport effectively
5 Broaden MHF's income base
The plan is long overdue, as Malaysia last played in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup. Since then, we have failed to qualify for two Olympics and two World Cups in the past eight years.
With the federation having set itself clear goals, the national junior and senior teams were also handed their respective targets with the objective of qualifying by virtue, and not by chance.
Malaysia are ranked 15th in the world, and the only way to break into the top 10, which is the president's target, is to play in the World Cup and Olympics.
• Short-term targets (2011-2012):
1 FIH Champion Challenge 1 - top 5 (among eight teams)
2 2012 Olympics - uphill task to qualify via current FIH Olympic system of three qualifiers with only the champions qualifying.
3 Qualifying for Junior World Cup 2013.
4 World ranking from 11 to 13.
• Medium targets (2013-2017):
1 2013 Asia Cup - top 3
2 Qualify for 2014 World Cup via new FIH world series format.
3 2013 Junior World Cup - 8th to 10th.
4 2014 World Cup - 8th to 11th
5 2014 Asian Games - top 3
6 2016 Olympics - 8th to 11th position via new FIH world series format.
7 2017 Junior World Cup - 6th to 8th.
• LONG-term - more than five years
1 2018 World Cup - top 8
2 2020 Olympics - top 8
3 2021 Junior World Cup - 6th to 8th
The MHF has set itself and the players stiff, but gradual targets. But the dream to break into the top 10 can only be realised if the state affiliates develop their own set of actions in support of the overall national goals.
New Straits Times