The U16 had been participating in Premier Cup’s state level since mid of July. They went on to semi-final to brace a game against Anderson. Understandably they lost. Anderson went to the final against Clifford and the former clinched the state championship for 2008.
Luckily there was a 3rd/4th placing game today and we were up against ACS Ipoh.
The boys trailed 2-0 in the first half. By our standard the game would have been lost if they trail, because our boys – no matter what is the competition – are not really good at coming back. Our instruction is to score first and then hold the fort so to speak.
But this particular batch is always bent on doing things differently (but college boys always come in different shapes and sizes and manners!); and while there were times we felt a bit disappointed, we largely left the decisions to themselves. So likewise in this game – either by design or co-incidence (more the latter) – they trailed 2-0 only to equalise in the 2nd half. Nasa (the F3 captain) and NoorArif (forward) scored one goal each. The game went to golden goal and penalty flick. We finally won 4-3.
Between now and end of the year, there are only 2 more tournaments. One is MightyDucks Cup, the annual closed tournament to encourage more MCKK boys to play hockey. We plan to make an annual homage to Manjung for this game, to continue what we started last year.
In December, the boys will be participating in USM International Hockey Carnival – just to teach them a sense of place of how inferior their game is compared to others. Hopefully that will make them want to play and train harder.
So how did we do for the last one year?
Achievements wise – maybe not much different year on year. Last year at SBP level we were the group champion at national level, but lost in the semi by penalty flick. So the highest achievement was 4th place national level. The margin of defeat with Clifford was quite big.
This year, despite the promise and better start for SBP tournament, we crashed at North Zone level, though the same team won the 3rd place national level for U14 two years back. It was heart-breaking, it was the first time I noticed KNO did not even bother to blog about the Duckies after a tournament (and somehow he blogged less and less about the kids nowadays).
But the margin of defeat with Clifford was narrowed down, the game was almost at par. So the highest achievement this year is 3rd place state level, after Anderson and Clifford – not really a bad achievement if people understand what it takes to have a hockey team in MCKK.
So what is it about MCKK, the hockey team etc.?
Each time I was about to explain this, I cannot help but draw parallel to the act of coming to government by an opposition party, in any country (it just rings a bell a bit louder in Malaysia since the drama is still unfolding, but it is the same elsewhere).
An opposition party, keen on doing things their way that they think would have given a better result, sometimes have the tendency to over-simplify or to ignore details. In the process, it may have over promised certain things – because not having the benefits of experience creates a blind spot to many things that later become impediment to implementing all the promises (I wonder whether YB Nik Nazmi still reads this blog and would understand the not-so-cryptic message; since all of us decided to go on separate ways many years ago).
The same with the promises we made to ourselves and the kids when we in our foolhardiness (for lack of a better word) agreed to do this – one stupid night at Pelita KLCC more than 15 months ago.
Along the way, there were many things that we did not factor in which made coaching and building a sports team a bigger headache than running the finance functions of a multi billion ringgit project that I do in my other capacity.
The smallest thing, for example the fact that the grass was very rarely cut at the hockey field – did not at all appear in our list of issues. Eventually we realised it was a big task to get the grass cut and 99% of the time we never managed to get it done.
Then the issue of getting the boys to play hockey and come down for training every single day, like it used to. Unlike the yesteryears that college boys readily pick a game and stick to that game since Form 1 (even I stick to a game until I was in F3!) – it’s no longer the case. It’s already quite a hassle to convince the boys to pick hockey what with the expenses to buy sticks, padding etc. – it’s another nightmare to get them to come down for a training every day.
So we advanced our cash first to buy hockey sticks. You initially get a good number of turnout – but eventually upon checking week after week you realised the number dwindles, that in each batch there is not enough hockey players to form a batch team. We revived a closed tournament to give opportunities to more players to play in a tournament – we brought them to a stadium in Manjong, give them free t-shirt, spent time with them. But by 3-4 months I realised most of the kids who came for the tournament (and therefore a part of the team) disappeared by the time we went back for the regular training.
We realised the team from across the batches does not have a strong team spirit (mostly because they are segregated by batch throughout their MCKK years) – so we brought them for team building. The effect was short lived – despite all the pledges and promises to come down every day; after a while they went back their old way.
Perhaps the most heart breaking was the last training at Stadium Hoki Nasional Bukit Jalil. The boys requested for a training in preparation for the Premier Cup – so having done all the cost benefits analysis it was decided to do it in KL, because it was cheaper.
We booked the stadium, shouted at each other (bapak-bapak itik) to make time (and all did make time although Chamat and I were in fact supposed to be overseas at the time of the training), arranged for friendly matches with MCOBA and Class of 2005 teams.
When the days came, only 6 of them turned up – all of them from outside KL Valley. Those who were in KL and had made the promise to their captain and team – did not even bother to turn up. The boys who did turn up, frantically called the rest to confirm but nobody picked up the call. Most just switched off the phone.
On the day itself, it was very difficult to explain how disappointed I was – and the other Bapak Itiks – Badut, KNO, Joe, Chibiok, Chamat and Canoe (who all turned up). It was very embarrassing for us having to explain to our own seniors (Jack, Wak from Class of 92, Hakim Class of 90 who also turned up) and our juniors from Class of 99 (Obe) and Class of 2005.
But what choice did we have? It was unfair to punish the 6 boys who did make it all the way from as far as Terengganu/Kelantan and Penang because their team mates let them and us down. Deep down, I think they were as devastated but boys at that age could not express their thoughts as adroitly as we can.
And as I struggle to get the boys to continue to come down for a training each day as a matter of discipline (either through constant letters to them, occasional spot check if we happen to cross KK, SMS) – I am beginning to realise it was never as simplistic as we thought it was.
Our main preoccupation at the planning stage back then was the financial and time commitment we have to put in – we did quite well on that and I always feel bad that I had to force other Bapak Itiks to put in as much as I was willing to put in, but never once we had a disagreement on financial contribution. At this stage in life, spending collectively almost RM20,000 a year on a hockey team (who couldn’t even bother to come down for a training and without a full time coach in KK) is quite a big financial commitment by any standard.
Also by any standard, the time commitment that we had made was also commendable. Those days when we made a half a day dash from KL to Kuala Kangsar just to be around for their game was an act that I will not be able to comprehend in the future. Top on this list is Idzam’s act of leaving at 3 am for a tournament on the morning of his son’s birthday. The kids will not be able to understand all this now – and how sad it is sometimes for us when some of them cannot commit as much as we had – hence why I put it here so that when they grow up, come across this; then they will realise the magnitude of how much they have been so special for us.
But it’s a journey that we all chose to take, for better or for worse. Bapak-Bapak Itik learnt many things I am sure and we reach a junction when many things will change too.
Joe is no longer around as he had left for greener pasture overseas and KNO was reportedly about to get married (though this has been around for far too long). Canoe has drifted ever since the Class of 2008 reached official retirement age by MCKK standard.
As we ponder on how to navigate the next 2 years (since we carelessly promised to stay around until 2010 – one of the “promises” made in full ignorance of the details, as I explained before); I also wonder whether this is a reflection of the Malays as a whole (not that I want to blow things out of proportion).
Sometimes I cannot help but draw parallel – the journey so far with the Mighty Ducks is not that much different with the predicament of the Malays as a whole.
Due to historical reasons and continuous neglect (whether intentionally or not), we are far behind; sometimes to the point there has been an institutional barrier that has to be broken down. Then comes help – either through direct assistance, affirmative action and many others.
But more often than not, help and assistance that initially was meant to break the institutional barrier and give us a level footing – was misconstrued as crutches that further creates a dependency creating an opposite impact to the objective of the policy in the first place.
Along the way the line is blurred.
Not too much different from the kids we are dealing with through the Mighty Ducks Project.
Yet despite all this, there are always a small section who truly understand what it was all about and had risen to the occasion. In every batch – there are at least 5-6 players who did not view Mighty Ducks as crutches and took full opportunity to develop; they reciprocate our commitments a dime for a dime, a second for a second.
And maybe it is through these core group of kids that the tradition will find its way back and finally put us on an equal footing.
(I leave you to draw your own conclusions about other things I implied here).
But such is life - very rarely things turn out the way we anticipate or plan them to be; just as I did not plan to write this long on this entry ;-)
Thank you very much to:
Bapak-Bapak and Mak-Mak Itik – I notice we sidestepped any discussion on the obvious frustration and exhaustion after 16 months of fighting everything under the sun for the simplest thing on Earth. I notice there is less enthusiasm now compared to before. I guess we need to recoup – but for better or worse, it has been worthwhile.
Anak-Anak Itik from Class of 2008 – May you understand that the extent of how much we get hammered on the field will one day rest with you; and when your calling comes, do the right thing. The world always admire the rising sun.
Anak-Anak Itik from Class of 2009 – To Holland, Arip, Kwang, Munggay and Farid. We have said all that we wanted to say. Sometimes we are not blessed with all that we need, but we have to make do with what is given. Let you be judged by your deeds, not by your team’s achievement.
Nasa, the Captain of Class of 2010 – Much rest with you to turn this around; as if we fail yet again this year, we will fail again next year.
MCOBA/MCOB ex-hockey players – All the way from the super seniors, to Hakim, KE, Jack, Wak to the juniors (Class of 1999 and Class of 2005) and all others; on behalf of Bapak2 Itik yang lain. It is difficult to comprehend why things deteriorate so much; yet it is a reminder of what may befall us if we are not vigilant – even at the most microscopic level as a school’s hockey team.
Cikgu Badri, Cikgu Khaidzir and Cikgu Khairi – who had to navigate as best as possible to look after the kids in our absence.
More photos here and here.