THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has never seen such an intense campaigning in their half a century history, as candidates start making their final calls and rounds for the May 13 elections.
While the president, Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal won unopposed when nominations closed on April 28, the deputy president's posts are being contested by heavyweights in their own rights.
In the men's deputy president battle it will be a straight-fight between former Kuala Lumpur HA president George Koshy and incumbent vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad.
The women's deputy president post will also see a straight battle between incumbent vice-president's S. Shamala and K. Maheswari.
George, who has also held the post of senior team manager for a decade, said he hopes to see changes this time around, as in the past, most pre-election ideas fizzled out after the hype and fanfare of canvassing for votes.
"In my mind it isn’t a battle between Datuk Azmi and I. It’s more akin to who is the right person to initiate and implement the much needed changes MHC requires.
"This isn’t a popularity contest, about any individual or state, it is about Malaysian hockey, which is the only world recognised team sport which is doing relatively well in the country," said George.
He feels the new team will have to make hard decisions, tough calls and drastic changes to the leadership, infrastructure, financial position cum sponsorship structure.
"There is so much to be done, even in competitions format, the national team and age group programs, players welfare and imaging. Ultimately it comes to re-branding MHC to be current, relevant and in line with the changes taking place globally," said Koshy.
Going by Koshy's manifesto, MHC needs a total overhaul, so states must cast their votes for the best among the two who they feel can make it happen.
As for Azmi, he also has many plans and has been busy on a blazing campaign trail.
"As a senior vice-president for many years, I have helped many states as well as individuals who needed help to develop hockey. Everybody in MHC is family and there are no enemies. George and I have also worked together on many occasions, but unfortunately the delegates can only choose one," said Azmi.
Azmi also feels the MHC needs an overhaul from top to bottom: "Before this only the president (Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah) used to bring in the money but now, MHC needs a strong team to not only bring in the money, but also plan and execute sound development plans.
"For example, I personally feel that the 1Mas Programme is heading nowhere and and needs urgent attention. The programme is supposed to unearth new talent and not nurture those who are already in hockey playing schools as well as belong to clubs.
"1Mas should be training at least 1,000 new kids every year, but their focus is more on developing players who had already been identified by hockey schools or states. This is not what 1Mas was set up for, and I feel it needs urgent revamp," was one of Azmi's election clarion call.
The stage is set, and the ceramah's albeit among small target group, has come out with many plans to help MHC and hockey grow stronger at the world stage.
The delegates have less than a week to make their mind, before going to the ballot on May 13.