THE Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Pemier Division is just a weekend old, but two glaring issues need to be adressed before the situation gets out of hand.
One is that national juniors and seniors coach Arul Selvaraj coaching club-side UniKL, and the other is the declining standard of umpiring.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad was asked the question of Arul wearing three hats during the Sultan of Johor Cup, and his answer was: "Its my personal opinion, but I feel a national coach should not be coaching a club side. But this has been happening for a while now, and I will try and sort it out before the MHL starts."
But there was no solution forthcoming and the MHL has started, and now Negri Sembilan coach S. Chandran and Old La Sallian Association of Klang team manager Joseph de Silva are questioning his selection methods.
"Negri were the silver medallists in last year's Malaysia Games and only one player was selected for national juniors training and he was dropped. I watched the Sultan of Johor Cup, and as a long-standing development coach, I know that the best players in the country were not at the SOJC and that is why we finished fifth.
"The SOJC players were mainly from Kuala Lumpur, and now instead of scouting for talent from the stands during the MHL, national coach Arul is coaching UniKL which I believe is not the right thing to do.
"The perception is quite bad, and I think instead of giving coaches to select players for national juniors and seniors training squad, an independent panel needs to be formed, like previously, to make sure players from all over the country are selected, and not from one or two clubs exclusively," said Chandran.
The MHL has always been the final frontier for a player to shine, before he is called up for national training.
Joseph also feels it is not right for Arul to be the judge, jury and executioner.
"I am finding the situation a bit comical, but its not hilarious as the country will suffer in the end if the national coach is allowed to also coach a club side. There is bound to be conflict of interest when selection is done. And currently, there are better players around the country than what we have in Kuala Lumpur," said Joseph.
As for umpiring, Supara are fuming mad with the standard of umpiring even though they beat UniKL 2-1 on Sunday, but were involved in a walk-out threat: "The Chairman of the Umpires Committee (Faithal Hassan) is nowhere to be seen during the first week of matches. Is he above or too good for all the participating teams?
"The MHC must make sure he is around to address any potential problems. Team officials need someone on match-day to answer and address critical situations. Right now, there seems to be no communication between teams and the Umpiring Committee," said Sapura assistant manager S. Kuhan, who was a former national skipper.
FRIDAY: Sapura v KLHC (6pm, Pitch I), UniKL v Tenaga (6pm, Pitch II), Maybank v Terengganu HT (8pm, Pitch II).
SUNDAY: Maybank v UniKL (6pm, Pitch I), KLHC v Terengganu HT (6pm, Pitch II), Tenaga v Sapura (8pm, Pitch II).