Friday, December 24, 2010

Hush, MHF is sleeping

Time is making fools of MHF again.

Time was when we were a great hockey playing nation. Time was when we had competent officials who knew the value of time. Time was when we had proper tournaments which thrilled the nation.

Time was when the men who ran MHF truly cared.  That time is long past. These days, MHF officials only care when it is time for their own  needs or time for a drink. The clock has ticked down on the Malaysian hockey and they don't even know or care about it.  How else can one explain the total indifference to the need to reschedule the MHL matches from their ridiculous 3pm-5pm times. Would these officials even allow their children to play outdoors in the broiling late afternoon heat or even venture out themselves at these hours?

The only man who seems concerned, and rightly so, is MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah. He had, during the press conference of the 1Mas launch, made it clear that he was not supportive of the decision to play the MHL matches between 3-5pm. But, typically, nothing has happened.

The MHF officials were likely nodding off as usual when he made his speech. Not surprising really as MHF has been trapped in a time warp of incompetence and indifference for a long while. It looks as though time stopped for them at that glorious World Cup moment in 1975.

They now go through the motions without much thought to the welfare of the players and the game, never mind the fans. Little wonder that there are hardly any crowds at their matches. Who in his right mind would want to go watch a match at 3pm? And you wonder why the Malaysian game is in sleep mode. Time has changed. The way the game is played and administered has changed.

The Europeans and Aussies have understood that and corrected their watches to the new demands of the game but not the MHF who are trapped in a time warp of their own making. Talk about Malaysian Standard Time - that's decades behind the rest.

So we have slipped and slid down to number 14 in the rankings and playing in the second tier of the world game, still harking back to the good old days when the times were good when the fact of the matter is MHF simply haven't kept time. How pathetic. How tragic. What a waste of time.

How difficult is time management anyway? Why is it that MHF officials are so lackadaisical when it comes to other people's time? Do these officials even stir from their siestas to go watch a match at 3pm, families and fat butts permitting? Their not acting on the president's request even begs the question if he has any say in how the domestic competitions are run.

And this is not the first time this is happening.At the Tun Razak Cup in Kuantan in March, teams had complained about playing matches at 3pm, but the Tournament Director could not do anything as the fixtures were prepared by those from the hill (Bukit Jalil). It took a royal command (from the president) to fix the irrational fixtures.

But the indifferent response to his request this time is perplexing to say the least. It is not as though it will be difficult to reschedule the matches. The hockey venues are hardly fully utilised given the moribund state of the game. It does not need a genius to make the necessary changes, only sincere, concerned officials.

All it would take is to make a call to the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association and move the 3pm and 7pm matches to 6pm and 8pm respectively, at the Tun Razak and KLHA Stadiums. Convenient for the players and the fans and good for the game.

If one were to study the fixtures, the Pantai pitch will only see action for four matches. Thus it is pertinent to note that the scheduling is drawn to suit for certain parties, like  TNB so that they do not have to spend extra on the A&P. No  thought was given to the fans, most of whom would be working at 3-5pm on Fridays.

Apart from the timing of matches there are several other niggling issues which should be addressed to reflect a more competently run competition.We have the issue of the name of teams, for example. KLHC is known as KL Hockey Club, and a check with the Sports Commissioners office confirms just that. Why then has the MHF listed them down as Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club when obviously they are not just that.

Add to that things like the banners/boards which are of poor value to the sponsors as the they are hardly visible on TV. Given that there are hardly any people at the stadium this means the sponsors are hardly getting anything for their investment. It all points to a poorly conceived and executed competition which reflects poorly on the MHF, as if they care.

Time is the fire in which Malaysian hockey burns, literally. And the officials, they  slumber in the shade and comfort of their indifference.

Tick tock, tick tock...