Tuesday, May 25, 2010


by: Jugjet Singh

THE don't make teachers like V. Sivapathasundram anymore. 

Cikgu Siva, as he was fondly called, died on Sunday at the age of 68, leaving behind a hockey legacy which will be hard to match by others in Tunku Besar Secondary School (TBSS) in Tampin, Negri Sembilan. 

I know it for a fact, as I played for him in the Under-15 and Under-18 squads in TBSS, where I studied from 1981 to 1987. 

Siva joined TBSS in 1963, after graduating from Brinsford in the United Kingdom, and stayed there for the next 32 years until his retirement, making the store-room next to the school field his second home. 

His 'room' only had a squeaky fan, an old typewriter and a can full of cigarettes which he chain-smoked behind the closed door, and plotted the downfall of two Seremban hockey powerhouses. St Paul's Institution had hockey gurus Lawrence Van Huizen and William Fidelis while King George the Fifth (KGV) had the late Datuk Ho Koh Chye and together with TBSS, the future of Negri Sembilan hockey was assured.

The rivalry among the three schools was so intense that the Seremban Town Field used to be packed to the brim whenever there was a match between TBSS against either KGV or SPI. 

Siva's first success was N.Palanisamy, who played in the 1971 and 1975 World Cups, and the 1976 Montreal Olympics. There were many others after that who were coached to become the best in the country, with the likes of brothers Lee Sien Lam and Lee Sien Hock, Siva's own son Dr Brian Jayhan Siva, Nishel Kumar and 1982 Junior World Cup goalkeepers Azhar Epi and Mohamed Fadzil to name a few. His last product is current national No 1 goalkeeper S.Kumar, who is among the best in the world. 

Siva had also worked his magic as assistant secretary to the late S. Satgunam in the Malaysian Hockey Federation, was the MHF Umpires Board Chairman, Secretary of the Negri Sembilan HA, and various positions in the Tampin District HA -- the last being its deputy president. 

He was also the hockey team manager for the 1995 Chiangmai Sea Games team, which was skippered by current national coach Tai Beng Hai. The list of umpires and hockey officials produced under his administration in Negri Sembilan is also impressive, and many were saddened by his demise. 

Siva made it a culture for hockey players in TBSS to have a stick with them at all limes, as the sport was played during Physical Education periods, and in the evenings from 4pm to 6pm. He was also a visionary who saw the need to build a miniature cement hockey pitch in TBSS in the early 80s, so that his players could train on an artificial pitch like atmosphere, and not be left out when they headed to Kuala Lumpur to play in tournaments. 

After his retirement, TBSS took a beating from schools which they used to hammer earlier, and Datuk Taha of Gemencheh rose to become the best school in the state after they received half an artificial pitch from the National Sports Council. However, TBSS have clawed their way back in the last few years after a full artificial pitch was laid in the school and Siva's former students returned to their alma mater to coach. 

Hockey has lost a great man, who worked in the shadows to elevate its standard without expecting to be rewarded, and he was never rewarded when he was alive, but received brickbats for being a disciplinarian. 

He is also the reason why the MHF started Yayasan Hoki to help players who wanted to further their studies. It came about when his son Brian scored straight As and wanted to pursue his ambition to become a doctor but scholarships were scarce. Siva approached the then MHF Deputy President Tan Sri P. Alagendra for a solution, and in Alagendra's own words: "If not for Siva, we would not have started Yayasan Hoki with Brian as its first recipient." After that, Yayasan Hoki came to the aid of many players who now hold degrees in various fields. 

Siva was actively involved in developing youth in Tampin as recent as two months ago, but stopped when his health took a turn for the worse.

A true coach until the end. They don't make teachers like Siva anymore, as he gave more than he took from everyone that he knew. 

Goodbye Cikgu Siva.