SPORTCHECK: Coach says problems of 'dark era' were all in the past
NATIONAL coach Tai Beng Hai was furious yesterday, as not only was his private report to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) council on Tuesday leaked, it was also published in bits and pieces, which gave a negative overtone to the sport.
Yesterday's hastily-called press conference at Bukit Jalil was chaired by newly appointed secretary Johari Aziz, and on hand to answer questions were Beng Hai, his assistant Nor Saiful Zaini, team manager George Koshy and his assistant Stephen van Huizen.
"First of all, I would like to say that Beng Hai's report to the MHC council was an in-house matter which was somehow leaked to an English daily.
"We will conduct our own investigations on how the report was leaked and then not published holistically, which gave hockey in the country a negative image," said Johari.
Beng Hai said: "I placed some history which happened in 2009 and 2010 into the report to show MHC council members on the many problems to overcome before winning a silver medal in the Asian Games.
"It was not the intention to indicate that these problems still exist and that was why we failed in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier."
Among the issues Beng Hai highlighted from the "dark era" in the country were -- "problems ranging from missing training, faking injury, financial problems, Internet gambling, skipping gym training, match-fixing, coming to morning training drunk, skipping training after a night out, clubbing into the wee hours of the morning, poor injury management (some injured for 1-2 years), poor training attitude and commitment, poor fitness and strength, and, in 2011, use of recreational drugs as well.
"However, having said that, I went on to explain how all these problems, some of them mere allegations, were overcome and we moved forward to the Asian Games silver.
"I am not happy that a bad picture has been painted of the team as a whole, and it looked like the Dublin failure was due to the earlier problems.
"I would like to say here that one of the problems we are still in the midst of trying to eradicate is smoking of cigarettes by some players which saw their fitness level drop.
"However, even this problem is being seriously looked into as we used nicotine patches as well as counseling before Dublin and some players managed to reduce their daily intake and are slowly being weaned of that habit," said Beng Hai.
Serious steps to weed out smokers, like sending home players, are being practised in the 2013 and 2017 juniors. This batch is also being tested for nicotine content in their urine regularly.
Nor Saiful went on to explain about the lack of leadership in the report.
"It did not mean that we lacked leaders to handle the team. What we meant in the report is that after playing at many international tournaments and tough friendlies, the players should not miss sitters as they should be leaders in their respective departments by now."
Beng Hai, who has been given the mandate to coach the Azlan Shah Cup side, said he is not invincible and if the management decides to find another coach after the Ipoh tournament, so be it.
"I am not here to hog the seat for another five or 10 years. If a foreign coach is found, I will vacate my seat as the long-term plan is to help hockey, not to cling on to my position as a coach."