Tuesday, December 30, 2008



Dr Balbir ready to make changes

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) newly-appointed coaching chairman Dr Balbir Singh is no stranger to the sport, and will be coming in with some sound plans to widen, and strengthen the coaching structure in the country.
He will hold his first meting on Jan 10, where his ideas will be discussed, and the viable ones put to work immediately.
The MHF council had first appointed Datuk Poon Fook Loke as the coaching chairman, but he declined because of work commitment.
“I have some ideas on how to improve the the coaching structure in the country, and also have a bigger pool of coaches at state level,” said De Balbir.
And among the changes is to require all coaches to keep a record of their players.
“We need a record of all our players, at the junior, senior and club levels so that a we know what we have in hand. The record will encompass physical, technical, tactical and psychological level of each player.
“With the record, we can then have a better plan and work on individual weakness to strengthen the entire team,” said Dr Balbir.
There was an attempt by the former MHF president, Tan Sri Anwar Mohd Nor, to have a report card for each national player, but somehow, it never took off.
“The data is easy to collect, with help from NSI (National Sports Institute), and once we have an electronic-based file system, working to improve the players performance will become easier.”
As for coaches, former coach Tai Beng Hai will officially start his duties on tomorrow, after Sarjit Singh’s contract expires today.
Beng Hai, who resigned early this year and went on to coach the national women’s team, has been recalled as an interim coach while the MHF hunt for a foreign coach.
“More coaching courses will be held because we need to strengthen the base at the state level. And once this is done, the coaches can start a concerted effort to nurture a bigger pool of players who have strong basics.
“More details will be revealed after my first meeting, but sufficient to say that, with help from states, we can start producing quality coaches as many ex-internationals have shown interest to help the sport.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

Old La Sallians call for trials

OLD La Sallains Association of Klang (OLAK) hope to re-live their glory years, as they will be playing in their 15th Junior Hockey League (JHL) on Feb 6 with strong sponsorship backing.
OLAK are the only JHL team which has not missed a single season since it was incepted in 1995.
And they will be calling for and Open trial on Jan 3 and 4 at the Pandamaran Stadium in Klang.
OLAK have the distinction of winning the League title in 1997, 1998 and 1999 while their Overall title glory was achieved in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
“We have had some lean years after 2000, but we are working to make a greater impact this season. We have managed to secure strong sponsors, and hopefully have a good team after the selections are conducted,” said OLAK assistant team manager Philip Andrew de Silva.
Current national players Amin Rahim, Madzli Ikmar and national Juniors trainee Wong Khee Hon are some of OLAK’s products.
“We have some players who competed in the Selangor Under-18 with us, and are expecting players from Tereng ganu, Perak and Penang to attend our trials.”
Last season, OLAK finished fifth in Division One of the JHL, and for more information on the trials, call Philip at 019- 6491927 or 016-3037971.

New Year Bang for Juniors

THE NEW year will start with a bang for the National Juniors, as they will be involved in a Four-Nation tussle in the Australian Youth Olympics Festival Jan 14-18 in Sydney.
And they are expected to be tested to the limit because Junior World Cup runners-up Australia, India and Great Britain will also be using it to test their youth for the Junior World Cup, which Malaysia and Singapore will co-host on June 7-21, and will involve 20 teams playing in two groups.
The juniors, who took part in the Malaysia Hockey League, were far from impressive, and there is still much work to be done before one can call them an outfit.
Realising this, the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have planned for a series of team-building sessions, and military training is also on the cards.
“The juniors will be involved in team-building sessions because right now, we (MHF) notice that they are still a loose outfit. Hopefully, once they undergo motivation sessions and military-style training, their understanding will be much better,” said MHF secretary Hashim Yusoff.
Fitness is still a problem, and chief coach K. Rajan will be helped by personal from the National Sports Institute (NSI) in this area.
“Rajan will receive help from NSI fitness trainers to get the boys in shape, and we also plan to hold a four-nation in March, at the tournament venue as a final test for both the teams and logistics as well as the artificial pitch in Johor,” said Hashim.
Hashim also said a joint meeting with Singapore will be held on Jan 10, where a clearer picture will emerge on what has been done, and what needs to be done to avoid hiccups in the tournament.
“The management committee has endorsed Tan Sri Anwar Mohd Nor (former MHF president) as the tournament chair man, and after January 10, we will finalise more details.:
The teams which have qualified for the World Cup are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.
And the juniors will be involved in a few friendlies with a South Korean University side, after which they will head to Europe to play Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Juniors hold defending champs Tenaga

NATIONAL Juniors held TNB-Cup defending champions Tenaga Nasional to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, quarter-finals of the Malaysia Hockey League yesterday.
In the another qurter-finals, Ernst & Young blasted Royal Malay Regiment 12-0, while Sapura beat Jurulatih Jentera 5- 0, to virtually book their semi-finals tickets with a match in hand.
National juniors grabbed the bull by the horns in the first half, and were rewarded with a penalty stroke, which was slickly tucked in for a well derseved lead.
The clock showed five minutes remaining on the first half, when the juniors mounted a concerted effort and Izwan Firdaus took a slap shot at goal, but the ball hit Tenaga defender Amin Rahim's foot, and the umpire blew for a penalty stroke.
Nor Hafiq Ghaffar flicked in high to the left of National No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar's right, and the Juniors were in the driving seat.
But the joy was shortlived, as Tenaga equalised right after the re-start. The Juniors were caught napping, and the ball reached Tajol Rosli, who scored the equaliser off a reverse stick attempt.
Jolted by the soft goal, Juniors started attacking in num bers, but poor finishing was the order of the day, and they even wasted the handful of penalty corners that came their way.
And the Juniors went into deeper misery when Izwan was flashed the yellow card, and they were reduced to a 10-man outfit with five minutes remaining.
But they held on grimly to the draw, and lived to fight on in the return leg.
RESULTS: Q-finals, 1st Leg: Ernst & Young 12 RMR 0, Tenaga Nasional 1 National Juniors 1, JLJ 0 Sapura 5.
Return Leg - Sunday: RMR v Ernst & Young (Tun Razak, 5pm), National Juniors v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium, 5pm), Sapura v JLJ (KLHA Stadium, 5pm); Dec 13: Maybank v Nur Isnafi (Seremban II, 5pm).
Q-finals, 1st Leg: Dec 10: Nur Insafi v Maybank (Penang, 5pm).

Ernst & Young playing to break jinx

ERNST & Young will start their quest for an elusive double in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) when they square off against Royal Malay Regimen in the first leg quarter-finals at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Ernst & Young, who won the League title comfortably, however, have not been lucky in their quest for the Overall title.
And team manager George Koshy feels the time is right to break their six-year jinx: “The team has been performing well in the League, and I feel we will finally land the elusive title this year.”
Ernst & Young have the distinction of playing in six Overall finals, and it was heart-break each time as they only have silver medals to show.
Their first final appearance was in 2001, and then they made the cut on five consecutive occasions from 2003.
The last two years were especially disappointing, as the gold medals slipped between their fingers on penalty strokes to Sapura and Tenaga Nasional.
As for National Juniors, coach K. Rajan is also optimistic of his charges.
“We lost 3-1 and then drew 2-2 in the League, and we will give Tenaga Nasional a good fight in the last-weight, with an eye to upset the defending champions.”
TODAY - Q-finals, 1st Leg: Ernst & Young v RMR (National Stadium, 8pm), Tenaga Nasional v National Juniors (KLHA Stadium, 8pm), JLJ v Sapura (Tun Razak Stadium, 8pm); Dec 10: Nur Insafi v Maybank (Penang, 5pm).
Return Leg - Sunday: RMR v Ernst & Young (Tun Razak, 5pm), National Juniors v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium, 5pm), Sapura v JLJ (KLHA Stadium, 5pm); Dec 13: Maybank v Nur Isnafi (Seremban II, 5pm).

Lee to skippper MPGA salvage operation

Pic: Thomas Lee (second from left).

WORK to salvage the sunken Malaysian Professional Golfers Association (MPGA) has already started, after the Sports Commissioner’s office appointed Thomas Lee as the skipper.
Lee, a former Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) president, and 10 other members of the MPGA Ad-Hock committee, were hand-pickled by Sports Commissioner Datuk Nik Mah mud Nik Yusof.
“We have been given the mandate by the Sports Com missioner’s office to look into issues that have been plaguing the MPGA, with specific form of reference to see what we can do to revive the association and help promote professional golf.
“But I would like to stress here, that we will not conduct a witch-hunt to see who is wrong and who is right. Our purpose is to develop a blueprint which which will elevate pro golf to the standard expected by the public and the golf industry,” said Lee.
The Ad-Hock committee was formed on Nov 19, after the MPGA was suspended by the Commissioner’s office.
A check with former MPGA secretary S. Selvakumar revealed that their appeal was rejected.
“We did appeal the suspension but received a letter which said that our appeal has been rejected,” said Selvakumar.
The Ad-Hock committee has been given five terms of reference by the Commissioner:
1. Look into the role and responsibilities of the MPga in relation to developing pro golf in Malaysia.
2. Amend the MPGA constitution to make it relevant with its role and responsibilities, and to re-study the by-laws.
3. Hold and Extraordinary General Meeting to endorse changes to the MPGA constitution and then hold an Annual General Meeting to appoint new office-bearers.
4. Look into the daily running of the MPGA.
5. To study other issues on how to strengthen the MPGA.
“We have been given five terms of reference, but the fourth, which states we have to look into the daily running of the MPGA is not relevant as it has been suspended,” said Lee.
When asked about the dead-line: “We have not set our selves a dead-line to complete our work, as there are many documents to look into. But sufficient to say, our work will be completed as soon as possible.”
The committee is made up of experienced hands in the industry, with even the General Manager of Saujana Golf and Country Club, John Eu, among its members.
AD-Hoc Committee Members: Thomas Lee, Zulkifli Ismail, Harris Zainal, Victor Lim, Firruz Jaffril, John Eu, Frankie Choo, M. Selvanaban, K. Rajendera, Nazamuddin Yusof and Mej (rtd) Richard Lian.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Final 'Sat Sri Akal' my friend...

Pic: Datuk Ho Koh Chye.

By Lazarus Rokk
(Former New Straits Times Sports Editor)

There are some people, outside of our family members, whom we wish will never pass on in this life. For me, it was Elvis Pressley, and George Best. And now, Dato Ho Koh Chye.

Even as I am writing this obituary, I can’t come to terms with the reality that he is gone, that I would never see him again, and that I would never be able to exchange ideas on Malaysian sport with this sports luminary and a great man.

When I was first told of his passing, my immediate reaction was to make calls to refute the story. I was hoping it was just a terrible rumour.

Like former New Straits Times sports columnist and Malay Mail editor Dato Fauzi Omar said, “Not Koh Chye la, not Koh Chye.” Exactly Fauzi, not Koh Chye.

Although Koh Chye – a devout catholic -- knew that the Lord would come like a thief in the night, Malaysians and Malaysian sport were not ready to have him “stolen” from us. Not just yet. He was just too invaluable to pass on so suddenly, and we were not ready to be left with this huge loss.

Another former sportswriter, Joe Carlos (Malay Mail), after receiving my forwarded text message on Koh Chye’s demise, said: “How can this happen, he is my candidate for sports minister.”

Well Joe, he was just about every sane and sensible sports critic, official, athlete, and fan’s candidate for sports minister. And nothing can be further from the truth, than the fact that Ho Koh Chye had the best credentials to lead Malaysian sport in that capacity.

But that sadly, was the only position that evaded him, though through no fault of his. For, this man had all but completed the cycle in sports, beginning as an Olympian, then a coach, a manager, official, an administrator, before closing his innings as chef de mission of the Beijing Olympics.

How many Malaysians do we know can boast of having such imposing credentials, and still remain humble after all that?

Koh Chye was the manifestation of humility. I had witnessed once, a national athlete waxing lyrical on himself in the presence of Koh Chye, when all he would have been in that golden era was a water boy.

But the man that Koh Chye was just looked at me and smiled. If that had been a rookie sportswriter who was bragging about his work, I know I would have put him in his place.

But I guess that’s what separates Koh Chye from the rest of us. In the 33 years I have known him, I haven’t heard him speak ill of anyone. He is your ambassador of peace and harmony.

It’s like what former Thomas Cup player James Selvaraj said: “Even if you are to complain about someone, he will try to calm you down, speak a few words of Tamil and make light of the situation.

“He is truly one of the nicest men I have ever met, and it’s sad that Malaysia is now one short of a great personality and a great man.”

And doesn’t this country need more Malaysians like him?

Coming from era when Malaysians grew up colour blind, Koh Chye was responsible for shaping the characters of many officials, irrespective of their creed or colour.

One such person who has always acknowledged and appreciated this trait is Datuk Zolkples Embong, the current director-general of the National Sports Council

“I’ve not only lost a very good sports officer, but also a very good friend. He is always there whenever I need his help. When I joined NSC, I was placed under his charge and Koh Chye taught me everything I know.

“So, you could say he is partly responsible for what I am today.”

I can relate to that because I’ve been in that place too. I remember when I was in The Star in 1975, I tagged along my senior George Das on the hockey beat. It was the best time to start as it was the Wold Cup in Kuala Lumpur and Koh Chye was the coach.

As a rookie, I was naturally intimidated by the task, as George has already given me a full brief on Koh Chye, basically his CV. But God bless is soul, he made me feel so comfortable and important.

I still remember how he had broken the ice with me, when he said as I approached him: “When I saw you walking across the field (no artificial turfs then), I thought you were A. Francis.”

Francis was that charismatic fullback in the 1975 World Cup squad who sported a Jason King moustache which I had then too, like just about every Indian then.

But the remark took away all my fears and from then on I endeared myself to the man. Though I may not have played golf with him (I don’t golf), but we always kept in touch, even after I had resigned from the New Straits Times.

When I was a columnist in the NST, sometimes I would seek him out just to get a differing opinion, especially when I was in a confrontational mood. He used to show me how we could find solutions or get a point across without being antagonistic. I guess I didn’t learn.

Ho Koh Chye was a diplomat. He was Mr Nice Guy, though he knew when to be firm. He believed in what the Malays would say, the “cara manis” way. He had the gift to get an adverse comment across without hurting the feelings of the other person. And this is what has endeared him to all those who have come in contact with him.

I guess he was the kind of person when he told you to go to hell, you would think it was for your own good.

George, who probably knew him longer than any living journalist, past or present, is another person who is struggling to come to terms with his passing.

“I can’t believe he is gone, in fact I don’t want to believe he is gone.

“Apart from being a good friend, he was one of the best hockey strategists in the world. I admired him as a goalkeeper, a players’ coach, and a rare breed among the Malaysian sports icons.”

I regret that I wasn’t born earlier to have watched him in action between the posts. I am often told of this story when Koh Chye, who also plays football, once did the spontaneous thing by heading a hockey ball that came across the face of his goalmouth.

That’s courage for a man, who not only battled his opponents on the pitch but also life’s greatest tribulations. He was the family’s source of strength when his only son Ian was diagnosed with leukaemia.

I remember in all his conversations with me on that plight, he never once asked God “why my son.” Instead, it was during that period that he became closer to God. It was the family’s combined faith in God that Ian is in complete remission today.

But alas, God had other plans for our friend Ho Koh Chye. May God always keep your soul my dear friend.

Farewell Ivan Ho.


Datuk Ho Koh Chye
Date of birth: Nov 5, 1942.
Place of birth: Seremban.
Family: Seventh among nine children. Married to Datin Lee Siew Chan, two children.
Career: Teacher at King George V School in Seremban until 1974, seconded to Sports Ministry and later, the National Sports Council, Retired as Director of International Prepa ration Division, NSC, in 1992.
Appointed Executive Director of the newly-formed SportExcel and served until 1996.
Consultant to the Johor Government for sports devel opment, joint chef-de-mission of the 2003 Vietnam Sea Games.
Vice-president of the Malaysian Olympian Association (MOA) and member of the Asiacomm 2006 project technical committee.
Chef-de-mission for the Beijing Olympics, and recently appointed into the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Wawasan Committee.
Sporting achievements: Hockey international from 1960 to 1968. Competed in the Asian Games (1962 Jakarta, 1966 Bangkok) and Olympics (1964 Tokyo, 1968 Mexico).
Coaching career: National coach for the World Cups in Amsterdam ‘73, Kuala Lumpur ‘75, and Buenos Aires ‘78.

Monday, December 1, 2008

MHF starts back-packing to 2012 London

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will embark into new territory when delegates attend a seminar, themed ‘Where We Are Heading’, at a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 15-16.
Organised for the first time in the history of the MHF, the chairmen of various committees like coaching, development and others, will present working papers on what they will be doing, or hope to achieve for the next two years.
“Our president (Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah) has asked for feedback from the various committees and the chairmen will present them at the two-day seminar,” said MHF secretary Hashim Yusoff.
“We will compile all the feed back, and the feasible ones will be endorsed by the council.”
Previously, the MHF ran on an ad hoc basis, where the chairmen of committees present their plans to the council, but many never take root due to poor implementation.
“Tengku Abdullah had also said that we should plan to make an impact by the 2012 (London Olympics), and after the chairmen have presented their plans, they will be monitored to make sure the paperwork is not left in a corner to collect dust,” added Hashim.
There are 15 committees in the MHF which include the newly formed Consultative and Wawasan Committees. Some of the of others are coaching, development, umpires, competition, selection, finance, discipline and welfare.
The finance committee will carry a heavy burden, as the MHF is currently in debt and with the Junior World Cup next year, it needs to get cracking right after the seminar.
Meanwhile, the first Asia indoor hockey tournament will be held at the Indra Mulia Stadium in Ipoh on Dec 10-15.
Named as the Azlan Shah Cup, the tournament will see Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Singapore, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong, Iran and many other countries competing.
Also, the seven-team 18th Azlan Shah Cup will be held from April 23 to May 2 next year at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.
Malaysia will invite defending champions Argentina, Pakistan, India, Canada, Belgium and England. The reserves will be New Zealand, South Korea, China and South Africa.

Saujana and KDU start pioneer studies

SAUJANA Golf and Country Club yesterday signed a Mem orandum of Understanding with KDU College to develop an educational and practical training programme in Golf Course Management.
A first in the country, the six-month certificate course is expected to ‘tee-off’ by the middle of next year.
“We will start with a certificate programme, and expand it to a degree course soon. This is a pioneer programme, and with help from Saujana, which has an excellent background and experience in golf, hospitality and the tourism business, we are confident the course will receive a good response from students in the country, and also abroad,” said KDU CEO Dr Chia Chee Fen.
Saujana Resorts (M) Bhd, which owns and runs the country’s premier golf course, also signed on La Trobe University of Australia to train professionals for the more than 200 golf courses in Malaysia.
“The increasing interest in the sport has created tremen dous opportunities in the golf, hospitality and tourism in dustry. This has pushed the demand for qualified pro fessionals, and with help from KDU and La Trobe, we aim to have a bigger pool of professionals in the near future,” said Saujana Resorts General Manager John Eu.

Pretty girls with beautiful hearts

They're hitting the catwalks at Parkside Collegiate Institute on Wednesday.

But it's all for a good cause as the Parkside field hockey team presents its seventh annual fashion show.

Kicking off at 7 p.m., more than 25 models -- including 15 girls from the field hockey team and eight teaches, among others -- will take to a runway set up in the school's centre court. There, in a two-hour show, they'll show off the latest fashions from Durkee's in Aylmer.

"It's an annual thing we do and it's a lot of fun. We hope that people will come out and support us," said Sarah Hiepleh, one of the team's captains. She noted every year, the squad teams up with different shops in the St. Thomas-Elgin area for fashions.

On top of a series of formal dresses, Hiepleh explained, they'll have casual wear and other outfits.

But they've got other supporters as well.

"We have moms coming in to do our hair, so we have formal up-dos and more casual things. We also have little brothers and sisters come in to help us. And men teachers come in to participate as well."

Besides supporting the team, money is also destined for a local charity.

"We've supported Big Brothers and Big Sisters (of St. Thomas-Elgin). This time we're (supporting) Christmas Care."

Hiepleh estimated $1,500 was raised last year. This time around, the squad is hoping to raise $2,000.

Tickets for the show are available from team members, at the door or by contacting the PCI office at 519-633-0090.