Coach K. Dharmaraj (third from right) talking to the national hockey players early this year. He finally has his contract and salary sorted out.
KUALA LUMPUR: A potential crisis in the World Cup-bound national hockey team was averted, thanks to the quick action by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).
K. Dharmaraj was on the verge of quitting as national coach on Thursday with the World Cup just two weeks away. The team will leave for The Hague, Holland, on May 23 for the May 31-June 15 Finals.
And it took the MHC just a matter of hours to resolve the issue which had been simmering for the last four months. It was all about Dharmaraj’s salary and work contract.
Dharmaraj was previously under contract with the Project 2013 team and his salary was paid by the National Sports Council (NSC). But his deal ended on Dec 31 after the Junior World Cup where Malaysia finished fourth.
In January, Dharmaraj was promoted as national coach when South African Paul Revington quit the team. He was not given a contract and was only paid an allowance by the MHC.
On Wednesday, the NSC finally offered him a contract which did not adhere to what had been promised and, naturally, the Malacca-born coach blew his top and decided to quit the team.
He was about to hand over his resignation letter on Thursday morning when the MHC got wind of his impending move. The national body acted swiftly to solve the issue with MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah asking treasurer Datuk K. Radhakrishnan to step in to resolve the issue.
Radhakrishnan and MHC secretary-general Datuk Johari Abdul Aziz then met Dharmaraj at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil and the matter was amicably settled within minutes.
When met after the meeting, Dharmaraj said he was sad that a simple contract matter had to be turned into a controversy and only settled when he decided to call it quits.
“I love the job and also my country. But enough is enough. I believe that I am entitled to some respect as a national coach and not to be taken for granted. If they are able to do this (solve the issue) within a few hours, then why did they let it drag on for so many months.
“I had brought this to their attention on many occasions, and yet nothing was done about it. Nobody bothered to talk to me or even to tell me that the matter would be looked into.
“I have been working without a salary all these months, just the allowance paid by the MHC. I believe that these issues should be handled professionally and local coaches should be treated fairly,” said Dharmaraj.
Dharmaraj did not attend Thursday’s morning training session with the players. But he turned up for the evening session.
“Now it is back to status quo as far as my position is concerned and I am satisfied with what the MHC have offered me now,” he said.
Radhakrishnan was pleased the matter had been settled.
“It was a simple matter which just needed some input. But it is over now. All’s back to normal,” he said.