When I was young, I looked forward to seeing the clowns in action in the Great London Circus that used to pitch its tents in the various towns in the country. The beauty about the circus was that it comprised of many different acts and that kept the audience entertained.
On December 4, a new circus will hit the city, but not the whole of Malaysia will be able to witness it as only selected towns have been granted the honour by the main actors, the Malaysian Hockey Federation. Matches will be played in Johor Baru, Malacca and Penang as well as in Kuala Lumpur, as listed in the schedule in my earlier postings. Seremban was initially on the list but were removed after MHF finally realised that the pitch would draw flak from teams.
Perhaps Negri Sembilan HA could use the expertise of an official within MHF who has the ability to "negotiate" special prices for artificial pitches, and the SMS bear witness to his ability.
Why do I call it a circus? Well the teams will be expected to perform infront of audiences in these three towns though five of the teams are based in Klang Valley. And the rationale that it is being done to promote hockey is downright rubbish.
Promoting hockey can be done by having national training camps in the various towns instead of holding MHL matches that will not leave any lasting impressions. Imagine kids getting to watch their very own national players training and even picking up a skill or two should those in MHF be cunning enough to hold coaching clinics as well.
Ever wonder what a youngster would feel if the likes of S. Kumar, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin or Faisal Saari was to take charge of kids in smaller towns even for 30 minutes? The impaxct I dare say will be mind blowing to these kids.
Even playing in KL these teams have troube drawing the crowds and as I said before, the single act in a circus hardly draws much admiration, least of all fans akin to the Malaysia Cup final, no disrespect to Kelantan though.
Playing a match on the weekend prior to the schools re-opening is a big "no no", and those in MHF should have consulted their football counterparts before fixing such dates. It will be a logistical nightmare as teams will battle the jams on the highways to make the trip and back. And let's not forget that some players as well as officials may have family obligations.
Then we have the so called draw card by MHF - that the matches will be shown live over Astro CH816, the Astro Super Sport 2. This is where it gets more interesting.
Just how many Malaysians have Astro in their houses? And just how many have subscribed to the sports channels?
FAM has sold its rights for the MSL to RTM for a cool RM6 million per season and when Astro was thinking of the local sports channel, the asking price by FAM was RM2 million per season. But the MHF I believe has given the rights free of charge to Astro. Why is it that football can draw the money but hockey is not able to command any fee?
So rather then getting carried away by saying that hockey will be live on TV, lets work on the economics of it.
Paying the teams to play outstation costs money in terms of hotel and travelling besides the rental of venues and other expenditure. So if MHF has the money, just how much of it is spent on development?
Compelling states to organise Under 18 leagues without financial assistance is not development I dare say. If MHF can spend money on a circus, then why not on proper development? Or is there any development planned in the first place?
Many questions arise from MHL, more questions then answers. The MHL can be marketed but not the way some within MHF had wanted to do.
On October 9, a presentation was done at the MHF Management Committee, that a sum of RM7 million was required to hold the circus, RM3 million for telecasting the matches live on pay TV and another RM4 million to a company for organising as well as advertising and promotion of the MHL.
Luckily, or rather unlucky for some, the money never was made available, hence the circus will only appear in three towns. And the beauty of it is that development will continue to suffer.