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Friday October 12, 2012

MHC must take drastic actions to revive hockey

DWINDLING crowd, poor umpiring, lack of interest among Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) top brass and one team’s total domination have all contributed to an unexciting Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) season.

No wonder Malaysian hockey is dying a slow death.

MHL ended on Wednesday and, as predicted, Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) bagged the double – League and overall titles – for the third consecutive time.

So complete was their domination that they even did the treble by claiming the Charity Shield!

KLHC are packed with national players and should continue to rule the roost for some time to come.

This does not augur well for the long-term future of the MHL.

Who would want to play in a league dominated by one team?

And who would want to watch such a league, anyway?

Which is why sometimes you have fewer than 50 people watching a match!

Even the final between KLHC and Tenaga was watched by only a few hundred fans.

Something drastic needs to be done if hockey does not want to go the way of athletics.

But what can MHC do when their own leaders, including president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his deputy Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad, are hardly seen at these matches?

Tengku Abdullah was not seen at any of the MHL matches while Nur Azmi was at the TNB Cup final on Wednesday to give away the prizes.

Now, how are you going to promote your product if you don’t watch it yourself?

Interest in hockey has been waning since the national team’s failure to qualify for the Olympics for the third consecutive time since the Sydney Games in 2000.

But more than that, interest has been waning because of the sub-standard performances being dished out as well.

Let’s hope the arrival of new national coach Paul Revington will revive and reinvigorate the hockey scene again.

It’s not just the quality of play that has gone down, though, as the standard of umpiring too has slackened over the years.

One incident last month clearly shows how low the standard of umpiring has gone.

On Sept 23, Maybank refused to play their match against Sapura because they were unhappy with the umpiring standard of K. Lingam and wanted him to be replaced.

The MHC technical committee agreed to the request and Lingam was replaced just before the match began.

This has never happened in the MHL since its inception in 1987 and it clearly shows that teams have lost faith, and respect, in certain umpires.

It’s time the MHC umpiring board review the standard of umpiring in the country.

No wonder Malaysia, who used to boast a number of world-class umpires in the past, don’t even have one in the current set-up officiating in international tournaments these days.

Another thing the MHC must look into is the planning of their calendar because, as ridiculous as it may seem, these same bunch of players will now switch their attention to the Razak Cup competition on Sunday – just four days after their six-week MHL exertions.

How can MHC expect high-quality fare in the Razak Cup when these players will be so worn out?

Frankly, MHC should have just cancelled the Razak Cup and give Revington more time to prepare the national team for the Champions Challenge I tournament, which will be held in Quilmes, Argentina, from Nov 24-Dec 2.

If that’s not enough, the junior players who featured in the MHL will hardly have any rest before they go on another assignment – the Sultan of Johor Cup from Nov 10-18.

The juniors will be drained by the time the Sultan of Johor Cup comes, having already played in the MHL and Razak Cup competitions.

So, come on MHC – hockey is dying, revive it. Don’t suck the life out of it, as you are doing now.

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