The coaches for koleq's debating teams are meeting tonight to mark the start of the next debating season - with planning for the camping workshop and preparation timetable for 2006.
We are expecting quite a full quorum tonight, with both the Camping Masters group (Wong, Badut and Gadap) and the coaches group (Shahrol, Canoe, Allen, Izrin, Budu, Zaaba and Izzat) attending. Ben, Dany, Rizal and Faiz may come if they can make it - but they usually leave the task of drilling and torturing the kids to us, before they come for the tournament itself.
At the very least, there will be 6 debating tournaments that these boys have to participate, and on their shoulders rest our expectation that they will do justice to MCKK's debating heritage.
It's a mixed feeling to go through this all over again, as the last season was such a let down, against a backdrop of poor adjudicating qualities and prejudice. The only comfort that most of us the coaches took was the hope that the kids would have learnt something from the debating rooms that couldn't be taught formally in classes.
This was my note to all the coaches way back in June to mark an abrupt end to last season, hopefully my thank you note for the next season will be less melancholic:
I am sorry for taking this long for something as simple as saying thank you. A lot of reasons (yada yada yada), but mostly I did not want to revisit the issue too soon after such a disappointing season.
I cannot thank all of you enough, especially those who form the backbone of the support group who have been with me since September 2003 on this. I don't even know my motive anymore as I am not really a nostalgic person who goes on and on about Malay College, but I know a lot of you did it for the right reason.
To those who were willing to stick through to honour your friendship with me although you don't see any impetus whatsoever to keep doing this, I personally owe you a great debt. It's this kind of friendship that makes us collegians special.
To those who have the welfare and the benefit of the kids at heart all the time, only Allah can repay you. The good deeds that we invest in other people's children, Insya Allah will be repaid through the good deeds that other people will invest in our children (in the future) - I have always believed this.
There are some of you who were never a debater back then but gave commitments more than what even former debaters have shown - I wish you yourselves were debaters back in college and things would have been a lot different.
I wish we could have won so that I can retire in peace and they can get rid of my ghost - but sometimes there are things beyond our control. The team was really good and I know they were a lot better than all the schools in PPM since we have seen all these schools at UIA, but it's rarely a question of ability and mental capacity, lest Ben and Dany would definitely have won PPM in 1990.
We can only hope that the kids are inspired by the efforts and tribulations we go through to push them to win PPM, so that they grow up to continue this small tradition that we have among debaters. I don't belong much to anything in this world, but I identified all that I am, that I was and that I will be with the training I received as an MCKK debater and the pride I hold as a debater - I hope they feel the same way, with or without the trophy.
Already the juniors are picking up things very quickly - the kids are up in arms again already plotting for next year's season. Plans are under way and their determination touches me. It's a good cycle - they want to win so badly to repay what we have done, we will keep doing this hopefully because we are touched by these energetic and determined boys. In the end - with or without the trophies - hopefully they leave MCKK a much better person worthy of the debaters' badge they wear, for sometimes it is not winning the championships that make our efforts worthwhile, it is seeing the change in their attitude, determination, knowledge and maturity that is priceless.
I don't know how long I can continue this, but it will be a time when my generation (the mid 90s generation) will have to pass the baton to the next generation. The early 90s generation delivered us 4 finalists and 2 PPMs, we hope to match if not to surpass that contribution. However, it is also important for the next generation of would be coaches (the late 90s) to start from now and put in the commitment that your predecessors have shown - the bond must not be broken, because it is very difficult to start from scratch just like we did in 2003.
Again I cannot thank you enough for the valuable support and contribution - from the usual suspects of the original coaches in 2003/04 (Ben, Dany, Rizal, Shahrol, Fazurin, Sani and Izrin), to the return to the fold of Faisal, Faiz, Kechoque and Chamat, to the addition of Allen, Canoe, Wong and Badut, to the new batch of junior coaches of Izzat, Zharif, Pojue and Afiq.
Maybe one day we will win PPM again and I can finally retire, although for the time being efforts just need to be doubled if we were to win PPM.
In my prayers I pray for your prosperity and for Allah to repay your good deeds, as well as that of the kids'.