Monday, August 9, 2010

Tengku Abdullah sets sight on home for MHF


By Jugjet Singh

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have been look ing for a base to call home for as far back as 1996, and two attempts have failed to rise from its blue print to reality.
But it looks like the idea is finally going to take shape, as MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has set his mind on it.
He mentioned yesterday that MHF is tired of squatting at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, and will look for an alternative site for his officials to work, and players to play.
But first, he said the states must decide if they want him for another term, as MHF elections will be held at the end of the year.
Tengku Abdullah was frank when he said that he will continue with his work in hockey if the states nominate him for re-election. But if they had any other candidate which is more capable, he will step aside and concentrate on football, where he has been elected as the FA of Malaysia’s deputy president.
The Pahang Prince said this during a MoU signing cer emony with Tenaga Nasional, which will inject another RM1.5 million into hockey.
Tengku Abdullah was actually shoved into the MHF hot- seat by Sultan Azlan Shah when Raja Nazrin Shah decided not to seek re-election, and he has mentioned many times that it started as a tour-of-duty, but he is beginning to like the sport and is willing to contribute more than his two years at office.
In the short span, he took the Federation out of debt, and now there is plenty of cash to run domestic tournaments like the Malaysia Hockey League, and the Razak Cup.
Sponsors have been kind to MHF, and even the Prime Minister’s department will pump in RM2 million a year to run the ongoing 1Mas Hoki programme to unearth young tal ent.
Tengku Abdullah, who was amazed with the quality of hockey played by the top-six teams in the Champions Trophy, has set a target of Malaysia breaking into the top-10 bracket in the near future.
Towards this he knows we must beat South Korea, India, Pakistan, Japan and China more often to become the best in Asia first.
And the only way to achieve this is to have a large pool of fit and brilliant minds, as World Champions Australia showed when they brushed aside England 4-0 for their third consecutive Champions Trophy on Sunday.
Work has already started in Malaysia towards this end, with Tengku Abdullah and his council adopting a systematic approach. Something which has never happened in the history of Malaysian hockey, which had relied more on a knee-jerk reaction.
Coming back to a place where MHF can call home, a plan was hatched to turn the Tun Razak Stadium into an academy which will train players from Malaysia and this region, but it was shot down by the Sports Ministry.
Then, MHF placed another proposal to turn the second pitch in Bukit Jalil as their home and also an academy, but it was again shot down by the Sports Ministry.
There have been some strong undercurrents which have been blocking this sound plan for reasons known to many, but only voiced out in contempt in the corridors and coffee- shops.
So, Tengku Abdullah has to be a strong swimmer and keep his sights firmly on the objective to turn MHF into an independent body, for there are bound to be strong undercurrents from those who would not like to see them free and independent, and with a house to call home.

MHF tired of squatting

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has had enough of squatting at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, and is hunting for a new base to work and play.
MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said yesterday it was time they stopped paying rental for their office, and also booking fees for national players to train.
“Right now we have to book the artificial pitch even for national training and it costs a lot. It is time MHF looked for a new house where we can work, and the boys can train and play,” said Tengku Abdullah.
Part of MHF’s frustration stems from the inability of the Stadium Board to decide on the best available artificial pitch in the ongoing re-turfing process at both the pitches in Bukit Jalil.
“When the plan was mooted, the MHF advised the Stadium Board on several artificial pitches which were of international standard. But the company awarded the contract went ahead and bought another brand.
“What is the use of having a pitch which is not up to FIH’s (International Hockey Federation) specifications, and harder and costlier to maintain? That are some of the questions being raised,” said Tengku Abdullah.
Deputy Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim said his ministry is aware of it.
“We know the problem, and since RM5 million has been budgeted for the project, we will make sure the money is put to good use and the problems rectified.”
Tenaga Nasional yesterday pumped in another RM1.5 million for domestic hockey tournaments, and as a bonus, threw in their Universiti Tenaga Nasional as a base for hockey development.
TNB has been a sponsor with the MHF since 2006, and to date, a total of RM5.6 million has been channeled to run tournaments like the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).
And last year, the utility giant’s efforts paid off when its team won the MHL Charity Shield, were second in the league and champions in the TNB Cup.
“TNB and MHF have been partners for a long time, and on top of the RM1.5 million contribution, I would also like to announce that Uniten has been chosen by the Higher Education Ministry to become the development base for hockey at the university stage.
“This is a big boost for TNB as we have been recognised as a partner of hockey to develop the sport at university level,” said TNB chairman Tan Sri Leo Moggie.
MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said: “The MHF is grateful for the contribution from TNB as without it, we would not be able to run our tournaments properly.”
TNB has also organised hockey development clinics around the country, and to date, 6,000 students have undergone basic training.

RM5m hockey fiasco

UNSEEN: Pride of hockey world in shambles — Pic: SHARUL HAFIZ ZAM
ByFrankie D'Cruz
and Haresh Deol

KUALA LUMPUR: Work to re-lay artificial turf on the two pitches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil — once the pride of world hockey — has been abandoned amidst allegations of irregularities in awarding the close to RM5 million contract.
Work started on April 5 but stopped abruptly two weeks ago for reasons unknown. The scheduled completion of turf upgrading by Dec 20 is now in question.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek told The Malay Mail that he would look into alleged irregularities and invited the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate.
“I’m in a difficult position as I cannot be seen as interfering with the decisions made by the Merdeka Stadium Board (MSB) but I will not tolerate any irregularities. If there are any elements of irregularities, I will look into it. These are public funds and the public deserve a proper answer," said the minister.
"Let the MACC come into the picture. I'm not protecting anyone."
It has been alleged that a senior MSB officer has links with the local company awarded the project. The company, in turn, was alleged to have sub-contracted the job to another firm.
Ahmad Shabery was responding to claims that the Tender Board of the MSB had ignored the advice of the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to buy a new technology highgrade German turf instead of an "inferior" Belgian product.
MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had written to Ahmad Shabery on July 14 expressing concern that MHF’s recommendation was ignored. Said Ahmad Shabery: “I told MSB about what Tengku Abdullah and the MHF had proposed earlier, but they said it was too late as the tender had already been awarded.
“MSB claims that their turf is also recognised (by the International Hockey Federation). My concern is that they should have listened to MHF’s advice as the national federation knows what’s best for the sport.”
Seven firms, with products all certified by the International Hockey Federation, had bid for the project.
The decision to purchase the Belgian brand Domo has raised eyebrows because it has never been used for any world-class tournament.
MHF secretary Hashim Mohamed Yusof said when their advice was sought by the tender board “we mentioned that the German turf is a better option".
On the delay to complete the work on time, Hashim said: “I was told that we would be able to use the turf by Oct 31, but judging by the delay in works, I doubt that is possible. We now need to scout for another training venue for the national team.”
“MSB is the owner and we have to adhere to their timing. We have no choice.”
However, a billboard outside the stadium states that turf upgrading works would only be completed by Dec 20.
The preparation of the national team have been badly affected as they have been forced to train in stadiums outside the Klang Valley, causing inconvenience to the players and coaches.
The hockey fiasco comes on the heels of a questionable National Sports Council (NSC) gymnasium tender process involving the supply and installation of gymnastics equipment at Gymasium 3 of the NSC in Bukit Jalil.
The Malay Mail had reported on July 20 that three companies, including an events management firm, had bid for the contract. Apparently, the products shortlisted by the three companies were of the same brand but were quoted between RM2,796,465 to RM 2,978,990.
Sources had claimed that the job costs less than RM2.4 million.