Monday, December 28, 2009

Hunt for coach gone wild

WHAT Malaysian hockey need is an academy, not a foreign coach.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) are still hunting for a suitable foreign coach to replace former national player Tai Beng Hai, but their targeted ‘victims’ have either asked for an astronomical salary package, or were scared off by the prospect of coaching a 15th ranked team.
But like full-blooded Greyhounds, MHF are still chasing coaches around the world, even though the scent and excitement of the hunt is fast disappearing, as reputable coaches are tied-down by contracts.
And even if the MHF manage to snare a foreign coach at this juncture, they might end up with someone who is of the same standard as our local coaches, or end up paying through their nose to pay-off the existing contract of a reputable coach.
The better idea is to have a pool of local coaches to handle the various age-groups, and increase their salary instead. But this idea, somehow, seems not to attract the keen nose of the MHF hunting party.
Coming back to the academy, Sports Minister Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek has announced that he is working to realise golf and motor-racing academies because both the industries are money spinners who need qualified people to run the show in the near future.
The cost for both the academies is expected to reach RM70 million, while a hockey academy can be established with minimal cost, as structure and synthetic turf are already in place at the Tun Razak Stadium.
A blueprint, dating back almost a decade, is in the possession of the MHF and if they care to read it again, Malaysian hockey can be saved from further embarrassment in the coming decade.
The plan almost became a reality in 2003, when the MHF selected 70 players from the Malaysia Schools Sports Council tournament in Kuantan, and went to meet the then National Sports Council director general Datuk Mazlan Ahmad.
The MHF delegation in ‘03 was led by the then deputy president Tan Sri P. Alagendra, the late secretary S. Sat gunam and current vice-president Datuk Dr S.S. Cheema.
But Mazlan poured cold water over their plans, as his argument was that the academy will clash with development at the two existing sports school.
“We went to see Mazlan today with the academy proposal but he was not receptive to the idea. He said it was similar to the other sports academy proposals and will not get off the ground.
“But he gave us the green light to use the Tun Razak Stadium to develop hockey,” this scribe had quoted Sat gunam then.
Many now know that Mazlan made a bad choice, as he should have, instead, taken hockey out of the sports schools and placed it in an academy.
The sports schools have too many disciplines under their wings, and taking hockey off their shoulders would have made more sense.
The proposed academy was also to train coaches, umpires, technical officials and take in players from the Asean region to strengthen hockey at the Sea Games level.
But it never took off, and 10 years later, we have a pool of so-so umpires, are still looking for a foreign coach, our technical officials are slowly fading away due to age, hockey is now not even a Sea Games sport, and Malaysia are struggling to qualify for the Olympics and World Cups.
Not to forget, if Mazlan had agreed to the academy in 2003, six years later Malaysia would have a bigger pool of players to select from, and could have even won the Asia Cup in Kuantan and qualified for the New Delhi World Cup.
The ifs will always linger around, so get out of the instant- noodles syndrome to hire a foreign coach, and instead, start an academy to groom our own officials and players.
If not, the ifs will surface again a decade from today.