Thursday, October 8, 2009


Experience in handling pressure is a lesson some of learn from years of experimenting. But it is a difficult situation for the MHF President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah as the time has come for him to set his priorities, at the eve of his first year as the top gun of Malaysian Hockey Federation.

His options at the Management Committee meeting tomorrow (Friday) are limited to say the least. Drop the likes of Ismail Abu, take punitive action against Azlan Misron and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and it will see Malaysia send chickens to be slaughtered in New Zealand. Compromise and critics will come after you. So what will he do?

Before he listens to some of the so call “wise” officials who sit around him at the table, it will be good if he takes time to ask for a copy of the Manager’s and Coaches report from the 2004 Madrid Qualifiers for the Athens Olympics.

That Your Royal Highness was the time the decline of Malaysian Hockey began and it was because we sent an inexperienced team to Madrid, because two senior players refused the impassioned plea to help Malaysia qualify, and all you have to do is speak to the NSC big wigs, former DG Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad and current DG Dato Zolkples Embong, both who were present in Madrid.

There is no doubt that from the beginning of his term as MHF President, Tengku Abdullah has his mind set on taking Malaysia to the World Cup in New Delhi, and the latest happenings in the national camp maybe putting him though putting a psychological damper, but it should have a major effect on his resolve, if he cared to read this piece.

For this is when his true potential as leader comes under the microscope as high achievers tend to perform well in high-pressure situations. Conversely, this describes what the national team need to do to get out of the position they are in.

We all knew from the beginning that it was not going to be a walk in the park situation for them and the decisions made by the coaches over the months have not helped matters. For starters, name me one player that has been dropped from the national team training squad due to poor performance since January this year?

So the million-dollar question that everyone is asking is, are the coaches feeling the pressure to live up to their potential? Most of us do not relate well with pressure though and, when we sense its presence, hate it and hate the things it makes us do.

Our natural loathing for pressure goes so deep that it compels many players to perfect the art of avoiding it inside of a disguised courtship.

I look at the whole situation from a business point of view as the time has come for the President to make the crucial decision – what are his priorities?

From the onset, he made it clear that qualifying for the World Cup and moving up the world rankings was something that was on top of his agenda

This reminds me of a saying – when you are not the lead dog in the pack, the scene never changes”.

A popular approach to handling pressure teaches that one can learn to ignore it until the day comes when it disappears. We know the players who preach that wisdom and sometimes they look pretty good going through a match with no apparent care.

No doubt it looks cool to play without care but how often do we see those champions of apathy in the winner’s circle?

Those are the players that pressure catches by surprise and destroys because of their profound lack of experience with it. Still they manage to look pretty cool watching the end of the match from the sidelines, making me wonder how much time they have to wait for the pressure to go away.

Mediocrity and failure flourish in the realm of casual concern whereas champions take a different approach however. Some get their seasoning on the road playing for high stakes, risking everything and taking on all comers, behavior that reflects devotion similar to that of the starving artist who ignores material comfort to follow his passion.

And some let us down, even when they realize the nation is counting on them. In 2004 we had no choice as some opted out, today we are with a choice, send chickens to be slaughtered or come out and revise our target.

Be bold enough to admit that we do not have a team to make it to Delhi next year will not make anyone a lesser man. Stop making excuses, stop hiding facts and above all stop trying to fool the nation. We are not good enough and dropping seniors to cover up our follies will not help Malaysian hockey.

Suffice to say, let’s try be sending our best to qualify, the difference is we could be in the World’s top 12 by end of March next year.