The national players undergo a training session at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday in preparation for the World Cup. Pic by Hasriyasyah Sabudin
THE national hockey squad were within a whisker of heading into the World Cup without a chief coach after an upset K. Dharmaraj decided to quit yesterday.
Angry at being treated as an outcast and irked that repeated requests for a contract fell on deaf ears, Dharmaraj decided enough was enough.
Surviving on a monthly allowance of RM4,000 for the last five months, Dharmaraj skipped the squad’s training session yesterday as he prepared to walk out.
However, word reached Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his quick action resulted in the issue being resolved yesterday evening, just 16 days before Malaysia begin their World Cup campaign.
Even then, MHC didn’t cover itself in glory over the incident, especially as it had no one but Dharmaraj to turn to after Paul Revington quit as national coach.
“I really don’t understand why some of my coaching staff and I were treated like outcasts. Despite repeatedly knocking on the doors of MHC, we never received any feedback on our contracts.
“I did not even know how much my salary scale was for the past five months, and was living on a monthly allowance of RM4,000,” said an upset Dharmaraj after the issue was resolved.
Tengku Abdullah instructed MHC treasurer Datuk N. Radhakrishnan to settle the matter.
“After waiting for five months, I was finally called to the MHC office on Wednesday and asked to sign a contract which only increased my salary by RM2,000 from my juniors contract.
“That was the breaking point, as I was promised many things before this but was then handed a pathetic contract to sign.
“My wife also told me to quit, as I was being treated badly by the very officials who had promised me many things. I also wonder why when the MHC president finally found out about it, it was easily resolved,” said Dharmaraj.
Dharmaraj, based on his achievement in guiding his charges to a fourth-placed finish in last year’s Junior World Cup, is in the running for Coach of the Year at Monday’s national sports awards.
He has proven his mettle with the senior side as well for after having replaced Revington, he guided the team to a silver-medal finish behind Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup.
That was followed by a bronze medal finish in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.
“The issue here was not about money but I was peeved with the way they handled my case as I kept knocking and knocking my head against the MHC door, with no answer.”
Malaysia are in Group A of the World Cup with Australia, England, Belgium, Spain and India.