Hockey: National coach Sarjit questions manner of his removal

KUALA LUMPUR: National hockey coach Sarjit Singh accepts the decision not to renew his contract but he is disappointed that neither the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) nor the National Sports Council (NSC) had met him to discuss the matter before making it public.

Sarjit, who was on a two-year contract, said yesterday that he wanted to make clear that he had not failed in his task as the national coach.

“I was given the job to prepare a team for the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Olympics. In what way have I failed?” he said.

“The 2008 Beijing Olympics was not in my job scope as the MHF had clearly said when they hired me in 2007 that it would be an impossible task. Yet two years down the line, they are asking for a change without even saying why or in what way have we failed.”

Sarjit was hired in January 2007 as coach of the national juniors and his task was to prepare a team for the 2009 Junior World Cup to be co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore.

But the senior team performed dismally to finish sixth in the Doha Asian Games in December 2006 and the MHF promoted Sarjit to replace Wallace Tan.

Now the MHF and the NSC want to hire a foreign coach and South Korean Kim Sang-ryul is tipped to take over next month.

“They can hire whoever they want. But I question the fact that they do not give local coaches enough time to prepare a team. Foreign coaches before me had been given a longer time frame to do their job,” said Sarjit.

“As far as I am concerned, I have done the job expected of me. We have a young and talented team who can be moulded into a strong unit. But it will take time.

“I wish the new team management all the best.”

Among the previous foreign coaches were Australian Terry Walsh (1990-1994), Germans Volker Knapp (1995-1998) and Paul Lissek (2001-2004). And local coaches who handled the team in between them for short periods include Stephen van Huizen, Yahya Atan and Wallace.

Sarjit said that he would go on leave and assess his situation before making a decision whether to remain active in the sport.

In his playing career with national teams between 1980-1993, Sarjit was an outstanding midfielder who rose from the junior ranks to skipper the senior team.

He remained involved in hockey after his retirement, either as a player or coach of state and club sides.

He was first hired by the MHF as national junior coach in 2002 to prepare the team for the 2005 Junior World Cup in Rotterdam and was retained for the 2009 campaign before his promotion to the senior team.

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