Thursday, February 14, 2013


Hockey was just three votes away from being thrown out from the 2020 Olympics and this raises concern as the International Hockey Federation continues to just put their focus on India and let the sport rot.

The voting trend, as listed below is a seriously worrying factor and unless changes are made to the sport, things are going to get more difficult for hockey to survive. And there is serious concern that things will get tougher for hockey to remain an Olympic sport.

Not that it is a major concern to Malaysia as we have failed to qualify for the Olympics since Sydney 2000 where a Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen was given the task to train the team via the qualifying rounds.

Realistically Rio could well be Malaysia's last chance at Olympic participation, had hockey not survived the cut.

Back to hockey the sport. At times its baffling how the IOC members think given the fact that tickets for hockey at the 2012 London Olympics were sold out weeks before the event got underway. So how is it a sport that brings revenue joins others on the chopping block?

Let us look at the other aspects, like the sheer number of players/officials in the sport. A team will comprise of 16 players and 4 officials and with a total of 24 teams ( 12 each for men and women ) the numbers grow to 480 players/officials. And that is not taking into account the various technical officials/umpires and it swells up by another 100.

Compare that to say for instance squash which will allow a draw of 32, meaning 63 players for men and women and officials not more then 30 or so. Less then 100 and IOC could look at icreasing the numbers by FIVE sports as opposed to hockey.

The answers are simple - hockey needs a change and in the words of Australia's Ric Charlesworth it needs to re-invent itself.

Changing the rules frequently is not helping but more confusing as evident by the own goal rule which has created unpleasant incidents of late. Video referrals used in hockey should be done away as its not only time consuming but also irks the spectators and costly to say the least.

Then there is the question of numbers on the field. Perhaps Charlesworth's suggestion years ago to reduce the players to 9 should be given a serious consideration as well as it helps cut down numbers, not to mention that there is hardly space available for individual skills left with 22 players on the pitch.

To start with perhaps the MHC could try out 9 players on the pitch in the forthcoming Malaysian Hockey League, and submit findings to the FIH. But then again who really cares about the sport in the country, and even in the world stage.

Here’s how the IOC reports the voting went, as the 14 executive board members were asked which sport they would like to see eliminated from the core of the Olympic program.

Round 1
Wrestling: 5
Modern Pentathlon: 5
Field hockey: 2
Canoeing: 1
Taekwondo: 1

Round 2
Wrestling: 7
Modern Pentathlon: 4
Canoeing: 1
Field hockey: 1
Taekwondo: 1

Round 2 
(Tie-break for the three third-place sports, with the lowest vote tally guaranteeing survival)
Field hockey: 6
Taekwondo: 5
Canoeing: 3

Round 3
Wrestling: 6
Modern Pentathlon: 5
Field hockey: 3
Taekwondo: 0

Round 4
Wrestling: 8
Field hockey: 3
Modern Pentathlon: 3