Friday, August 1, 2014

Sacrificing for the future

By K. Dharmmaraj (Mas chief coach)

As told to Vijesh Rai after Malaysia lost their final Commonwealth Games Group B match 6-1 to New Zealand yesterday. The team will play Scotland in the seventh-eighth playoff. 

I WILL be slaughtered but the day will come when what we have done in the Commonwealth Games will be appreciated.
    Yes, we shouldn't have lost to Trinidad & Tobago but it was not because we didn't try but because they are not as weak as people seem to think.
   They have a drag flicker who is world class and he scored a hat-trick against us but this is not about Trinidad but about Malaysia.
   When I decided to bring a mixed squad here, it was because most of the players were exhausted after a really tough calendar.
   We played in the Azlan Shah Cup, Champions Challenge 1 and then the World Cup. Some of the players just couldn't play anymore and I recommended to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation that we send a squad consisting of players who were either making comebacks to the national team or were from last year's Junior World Cup.
   My recommendation was supported but unfortunately, results have not gone our way here but the fact that we are here with 10 players from the Junior World Cup squad can only benefit Malaysia in the long run.
   Australia, England and New Zealand are all in Glasgow with their best and if I was worried only about results, I would have brought our first team here.
   But I wasn't as I had to think about the welfare of all the players - the seniors as well as juniors. The seniors had played too much hockey while the juniors had not played enough hockey and the Commonwealth Games was the perfect avenue to expose the young players.
   I admit that the criticism after the World Cup hurt me and the players, especially as people seemed to forget just how we qualified.
   We only went through because Pakistan didn't understand the qualification process but once through, expectations soared.
   Some began to think that Malaysian hockey was right up there with the best but it isn't. If it was, we would have played in the last three World Cups.
   Unfortunately, many have forgotten and have made huge demands on the players, which have severely affected them and me. Some are even thinking about whether they should continue playing, such is the situation. I am bordering on depression and so are some players.
   As for allegations that there are players who are unhappy with me, all I can say is that this is news to me. No player has raised this with me and as far as I am concerned, the squad here and the one at home are like one family.
   I know that my position as national coach is under threat and I will accept whatever decision is made but all that I ask is for it to be remembered that I was asked to help out the senior squad at a time of crisis.
   The national coach (Paul Revington) had resigned and MHC asked me to fill in. I was supposed to assist until a replacement was found but instead was elevated to the senior job.
   In my reply to the showcause letter (issued after a posting on social media), I apologised to MHC but also said that I was willing to be redesignated to the juniors or grassroots if deemed fit.
   That still stands but as we (the team) are criticised, I am confident that our bold decision to field young players here will bring results.