Since Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had in his speech during the MHF BGM last Sunday requested for fresh impetus and ideas towards improving hockey, and due to lack of access to HRH, this blog will attempt to put forward suggestions and hopefully someone within Tuanku's office or MHF will print this out for him to read.
HRH Prince Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah
Malaysian Hockey Federation.
I write this as a concerned Malaysian who sincerely believes that while the sport can prosper under your stewardship it needs dedicated soldiers to carry out your dream of seeing it regain its past glory.
The problem with MHF is the lack new ideas and the will to surmount the obvious obstacles which have impeded the development of the sport. We languish behind other nations simply because we have not kept up with the changes in the way the game has to be administered.
We capitulate too easily in the face of adversity instead of meeting the challanges head on. And challenges there are aplenty.
MHF can no longer be run on an ad-hoc basis with no long term planning or a proper Road Map of what needs to be done for the future. We not only need to be planning for the next 10 years but looking at ways to make hockey a premier sport again. One which has appeals to the masses and the sponsors.
Funding is a critical part of that blue print for we realistically cannot achieve our targets without the money to implement the plans. Simply put, we cannot have the one - development - without the other - funds.
HRH Tengku has managed to stem the decline and restored some semblance of order but moving forward will continue to be an issue unless we have a proper five-10-year plan for all stages of the game. From junior to senior to national level.
Like you said, the game apears to be stagnant. That is mainly because we have not mounted a proper business-like approach administering the sport. The only way to succeed is to lauch a major campaign to ensure that all levels of the game are in proper working order and in sync with your targets.
While the fortunes of the national team are a measure of success, we cannot neglect development or we will forever be looking at the past and not the present or the future.
The 1Mas programme may be good for the long term but immediate results are needed to ensure hockey remains relevant. Success breeds success and the game is in dire need of that to regain credibility.
It is insidious, but the fact is that the game has suffered because of its failures. The resulting drop in its appeal is only too apparent in the diminishing coverage given to hockey by the local media.
Where the Razak Cup used to hog the back page, it is now a sad afterthought lacking the indepth coverge needed to stimulate the interest of the public.
Tuanku would have seen the lack of a media presence at the BGM which is a sad indictment of how much the game has fallen in their opinion. It is so sad to see the EPL taking precedence over local sports but that is the reality.
Any planning for the future must seek to address this issue as well. For without the prime news coverage, hockey will never entice the sponsors part with their money.
So any road map for reviving hockey will have to take into account all these considerations which are all mutually inclusive. The catalyst is making the sport exciting again at all levels. Do that and everything will fall into place. You will rekindle interest in the sport and spark a lasting revival.
SOME POINTS TO PONDER:
The impetus has to be multi-pronged - revive interest in the game in the schools and the states while national team delivers.
As for high performance and meeting the target of playing in the 2012 London Olympics, after a lapse of 12 years, we have to plan for the qualifiers right now.
One way would be to send players on attachment programmes next year. This was done with success in 1997 for the 1998 Commonwealth Games where five players - S. Kuhan, Nor Azlan Bakar, Chairil, Anwar Abdul Aziz, R Shankar and Karpal Singh - played in the German league.
In terms of tournaments, we should revive the Tun Hussein Onn cup, last played in 1986, top four states from Razak Cup with top clubs in Asia. But priority must be given to adding that crucial element of excitement to these tournaments which have, over the years, become lacklustre and unimaginative.
The MHF administration needs to be perked up. It is clearly lacking as evident from the annual report where some sub committee's reports were from the last AGM with the majority still talking about 2009. Even results of the 2010 competitions were left out.
Need to keep up with the information revolution. This means setting up a viable website as soon as possible. This will help raise the game's profile which has been losing out to even some minor sports, which in turn has had negative impact on sponsorship.
In revamping the administration, we can use the tried and tested FAM system with proper departments to take care of competitions and national teams, given that development is a full time imperative.
MHF also need to improve their image internationally in terms of communications and or with other countries, especially FIH. MHF need someone with stature to be heard internationally.
Revive MHF's Flick magazine to keep everybody informed. The quarterly can be distributed to schools to uplift the image of the sport and help rekindle interest amongst young in the country.
These are just some of my thoughts on what can be done to revitalise hockey under your leadership. I know that I am seen as a blunt and abrasive critic but that is only because I, like many other fans, am frustrated at the direction our game has taken.
Changes by way of new concepts and inspiration are needed to move forward. The problem is not so much in the officials as the lack of fresh ideas. The same old tired and failed ways are the reason why there is a lack of progress.
We need dynamic and progressive planning and implementation. There is so much you can do alone. Best of luck and it will be hockey's loss and football's gain should you decided to walk away from MHF someday.
Thank you. Ampun Tuanku