Monday, November 11, 2013

RM13m to get into one tourney?

 
India's Amit Rohidas (left) trying to get the ball from Malaysia's Muhammad Firhan Ashari in their Sultan of Johor Cup match in September. MHC should invest money into the development of hockey at the grassroots level rather than spend it to win a hosting bid.
India's Amit Rohidas (left) trying to get the ball from Malaysia's Muhammad Firhan Ashari in their Sultan of Johor Cup match in September. MHC should invest money into the development of hockey at the grassroots level rather than spend it to win a hosting bid.

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) should consider the failure to land the 2018 World Cup hosting job as a blessing in disguise.

They lost the bid to India. Five countries including Australia, England and New Zealand made bids for the 2018 World Cup. The women’s event was given to England.

Malaysia, hosts of the World Cup (1975, 2002), Junior World Cup (1982, 1989 and jointly with Singapore in 2009) and Champions Trophy (1993 and 2007), had a bid that could have rivalled that of any country.

But in the end “the money” was the overriding factor that tipped the balance in India’s favour. The Malaysians had promised 4mil Swiss francs (RM13.8mil) over a four-year period. But the Indians, who have landed at least four top level events in the run-up to the 2018 Finals had made a bid with 24mil Swiss francs (RM82.7mil) over an eight-year period to sweeten the deal.

MHC vice-president Manjit Majid Abdullah admitted that they stood no chance when it came to money.

“In the end it was not what you could offer the tournament and the teams. The money was too good for FIH to turn down. But looking back we don’t feel disappointed as we made the best bid possible and we have the experience to hold such a big event,” he said.

Is the RM13mil offer for a single tournament (World Cup nevertheless) proper when you consider the development that can take place in the hockey arena?

The RM13mil does not take into account the cost of hosting the tournament and the cost that goes into the preparations.

The money would be well spent by the MHC if they can channel it to the national team and start a five-year programme to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and 2018 World Cup.

After missing the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, the Malaysians have qualified for the 2014 event in The Hague, Holland, next year. They have not qualified for the Olympics since Sydney 2000.

It is high time the MHC stopped using ad hoc measures to make the cut for major events. Instead, they should make it the norm to be part of the elite grouping by qualifying on merit.

Manjit agreed that they have to start thinking of being in the top six on a regular basis at the world level.

But unless we have strong grassroots development the chance of being a regular in the world arena will remain just wishful thinking.

We have even hired some of the best foreign coaches (Terry Walsh and Paul Lissek) and yet the best ever effort in the World Cup was eighth placing in 2002. In 1975 we were fourth with a local coach (Ho Koh Chye) at the helm but the game was then played on grass.

To be honest, our grassroots development has not taken off over the last 10 years despite the many blueprints that have been tabled. Our juniors undergo a four-year programme for each Junior World Cup. Recently the 1MAS programme was launched. We have yet to see the fruits of its labour, but that will only be evident in the next Junior World Cup.

States were supposed to have school leagues annually. That too has not materialised. The domestic calender is overcrowded with tournaments and this affects the training of the national teams.

These issues are not new and have been the bane of our hockey development for years. But unless the mindset changes, Malaysian hockey will remain the same.

Bidding for major tournaments is merely a backdoor entry to the top level meets. Let’s stop this, and spend the money wisely and make the cut on merit.



by S. Ramaguru - The Star

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