Saturday, March 21, 2009

MSSD & PPM North Zone 2009: Favourite Mistake

PPM North Zone and MSSD inter-school hockey tournament ended last week, but I was overtaken by other events what with the SPM that this has to wait.

Both the teams had a full weekend of training immediately before the tournament. In terms of preparation, it’s been a while that we went through this kind of preparation for a district level tournament.

KNO stayed with the boys from Saturday all the way to Tuesday – he was damn bored in KK for the full 4 days. Joe came on Monday.

As always, Badut and I decided to make our trip the night before the semi-final – this has become an annual ritual.

Somehow we were quite optimistic this year, having seen how Clifford played last year and it was a close fight. After all, we started much earlier this year and no team for the past 4-5 years had undergone a daily/weekly training like this team.

Joe was a lot more optimistic – I don’t know whether he was praying all along that “miracle” could happen or he truly believed that 2009 is the turnaround year – but he has been bragging quite a lot (see here and here).

At the same time, the debaters were going through their own little tournament in Bukit Mertajam – the dry run for PPM for the schools in the northern zone. By the time I left for KL on Tuesday night, the BM team has been knocked out after two consecutive losses. I went through a lengthy post mortem over the phone (Fendy Class of 2008 was there; together with Cikgu Umi) – it’s the same old dilemma which I will explain briefly afterwards.

I have to admit that we were more looking forward to the hockey games (not because of change of heart – payah jaga 2 team ni kena adil dan saksama) because it would be the final tournament for the Form 5, while PPM was just a dry run.

Earlier during the day, the boys defeated SM Datuk Abdul Wahab 5 – 0; then SM Simpang Beluru 3 – 0. Obviously there was enough reason to be optimistic – so Badut and I left KL about 10 o’clock reaching KK around 2 am (yeah stupid things to do – if my boss found out that by “I have to settle a personal matter” I meant driving 300 km to watch hockey games, she wouldn’t have been that impressed with my sense of priority ha ha).

The game with Methodist was good – Joe and I were laughing at KNO all along because most of the goals were field goals; giving a sign that we had overcome the nightmare of not being able to score goals that we had to rely on getting as many penalty corners as possible – so KNO’s main strategy to get penalty corners was no longer valid. In fact Arip scored a very good goal at the beginning of the second half. So we won 3 – 0.

To be fair to the debaters, I then had to make a dash to Bukit Mertajam (speeding at 170 kmph) in order to spend some time with them (the boys – and the teachers too I think – can be quite sensitive if there was a sign that I was spending more time with one team than another).

We went through a quick post-mortem all over again. The topic that we lost related to GLC – our guess was the arguments were pitched at a level that the judges could not understand. At PPM, we had a history of losing when it came to economic topics (ironically we were undefeated when it came to economic debates in UIA, sometimes scoring perfect 12 – 0 margin with absolute majority). The opponent did not even understand that MARA and other governmental agencies are not GLCs but statutory bodies of the government – so the fact that their arguments won the day implied that the judges too did not understand what GLC is.

The boys also thought that the opponents and the judges (by implication) did not understand that a bankrupt company could be bailed out by injection of funds – so their arguments that many GLCs which became insolvent and needed re-injection of capital were a waste of public fund; did not go down too well with the judges. The judges seemed to agree with opponents’ repeated question: “if a GLC went bankrupt; how come it still exists today?”

It’s an internal dilemma that is getting too trite and I have made my stand very clear all along – despite much opposition from other team members, we decided we will not dumb down our argument for the sake of winning (if our hypothesis that the level we argue cannot be understood is correct). However this time around, I will allow the junior coaches and the team to decide on their own; after all it’s them who hold the MCKK banner now.

The English team was doing fine winning all debates and was on the way to semi final. It was a good thing for them – I had spent the first two months shouting and picking on the littlest thing; so naturally they went to the tournament thinking they were really bad – to feel what it was like winning. It’s their first major tournament so hopefully they will get the right chemistry for the real PPM and UIA in a month’s time.

Anyway, the good thing when you lose is you have some time to spend with the team. Cikgu Umi and I spent about 2 hours with the boys over teh ais and I had the leisure of sitting in front of a boy to make sure he conquered his dislike for chicken (there was this boy who does not eat chicken, so anywhere we go we have to look for a non-chicken meal for him. It wasn’t allergy or anything like that – it was just his habit for disliking chicken).

At about 2 pm, I left Bukit Mertajam only to be caught in the massive traffic jam that by the time I reached the highway, it was half an hour before the final against Clifford. I was speeding at 180 kmph (there goes any hope of selling my car!) so when there was a road block somewhere around Kulim – I thought I had to kiss another RM300 goodbye for speeding. But I wasn’t stopped so I thought it’s a lucky day: we would win against Clifford.

But that wasn’t to be: the game already started about a few minutes by the time I reached the turf. A few minutes later, Clifford scored the first goal. We were all standing by the pitch soaking wet while the rest of the stadium was jeering us. Koleq equalised not long after that, so things were not looking that bad. By the end of first half, Clifford was leading 2 to 1. Our boys held on to the score until the last 10 minutes, when things went downhill – Clifford scored the next 2 goals within the last 10 minutes, making it 4 – 1.

So we didn’t win – deep inside, I am sure Joe or myself or Badut or anyone of the Bapak Itiks would have felt responsible for the loss. We watched last year’s game and saw that our gap with Clifford boys was not that big; so winning in 2009 was possible. What we didn’t know was how good Clifford was (a few of their players apparently played for Anderson in Junior Hockey League) that it looked as if it was a completely different team altogether.

We pushed the boys to the wall from the beginning of the term. We drilled them at the camping, we breathed down their neck and I bear a big chunk of the responsibility on the coaches’ side; for getting the coaches to commit to come down almost every week thinking that we could do a turnaround this year.

We lost the gamble.

Having said this, I don’t think all was lost. While we did not win yet again, the boys were as worthy of the MCKK badge as anyone of us, some of them in fact were worthier. They tried their best, fighting to the last whistle, that when finally it was over – a few of the Form 5 cried on the spot on the pitch; watched by 100+ other people.

To me, that means a lot to us. Mighty Ducks is not just about winning a game – it is about the journey they take to make them appreciate what being a budak koleq is all about. It is about proving to the MCKK stakeholders that the notion that the quality of our boys has declined is not accurate – what has declined is the level of passion we injected into these boys; they are mostly still the top 100 Malay boys when they first entered the gate, just like anyone of us of the yesteryears.

I wanted to capture the poignant scene on the pitch – when the boys cried and apologised for letting us down – but that would have been insensitive. It was enough to know that they would have had the fire in the belly one day to come back and continue, knowing how it felt to lose in a tournament (after all MCKK is addicted to winning).

It took us a while to console them. We had to bring them to a nearby cafeteria, bought them ice cream and stuff but most were not interested (come to think of it, who would want ice cream when you have just lost – but ice cream was the closest thing I could grab given the situation ha ha). Badut gave quite a long speech – Joe cheated and passed! I wanted to give a short speech; but it turned out to be longer than Badut’s.

All the same message – that it’s the journey that matters; that we have to lose some in order to win others.

We then passed to Mr Thaman to say a few words (Mr Thaman and Mr Bala were there throughout the tournament).

The first thing he said to the boys:

“Before anything, please stand up and give a big clap to the old boys who have done this for you”.
“Not loud enough, louder.”

I could not describe how emotional or how much that meant to me (I am sure also to Joe and to Badut). The truth is, since we started in early 2007 – nobody has even said thank you or clapped. The fact that it took our own teacher (and one who has coached MCKK teams since 1970s) to realise the folly and stupidity of this bunch of people who think they can make a difference; and because of that naivette he appreciated the efforts more – is a prize bigger than anything we have had since 2007.

By 8 am the next morning, all of us (except Joe ha ha) were in office – the day before was just an annual crazy thing we do.

Back in Bukit Mertajam, the English boys were announced as the winner – so we still managed to defend the record (at least one of our debating teams had won the North Zone cup from 2006 onwards).

Another batch completed its journey – may they look back and remember the time as the best part of their life. May they come back one day and hold the hands of people after them, so that they too understand what they have to do to walk this path to maturity.


i) Tribute to the hockey players Class of 2009, for all the turbulent years since 2007:
1) Kwang – for holding the team together; for the sheer passion and dedication that surpassed anyone of us. One day you will be great in one thing that you are passionate about regardless of what you choose, because there’s hardly anyone more dedicated and passionate that we have come across so far.

2) Holland – for the single-mindedness and skills on the pitch; for being the most uninspiring speaker I have seen in my life; for crossing the bridge despite all the hesitance.

3) Arape – for the fair-mindedness and politeness; for all the SMS that give meaning to what we do. For sticking through thick and thin and trusting us with what needs to be done; for the simple leisure of looking after such a nice boy.

4) Munggay – for the loyalty and patience; for the support that you have provided to your team mates; for the comfort that you provide us that while you do not say much, we know what lies within.

5) Farid – for just being you; for the gullibility that entertains us; for your good mannerism and for proving that hockey players too can do well in study (ha ha)

6) Muiz – for being such a pillar to the team despite your late entrance; for the determination and hard work; for being part of MCKK and the team when many others choose not to go down the road you take.
We did not win against Clifford in 2009, but if there is any consolation – losing to a much better team and such skilful players that Clifford has; is a very honourable loss. We should take pride that we put a tough fight and earned their respect. You lost to a better team and what better in any game but to be defeated by a much worthier opponent. Take comfort that 2009 IS the turnaround year – that your juniors will do much better in the future because you make sacrifices to make way for them this year.

Take pride and one day you shall look back and recall that whatever good news we had in 2010 onwards started in 2009. It has been a pleasure coaching and looking after you.

ii) The original soundtrack was actually “Two Steps Behind” – I wanted to remind the boys that they have mortgaged their life for this in the future so it’s incumbent upon them to come back one day. Unfortunately Universal Music Group (UMG) considered that as a breach of copyrights so Youtube could not publish.

I was looking high and low for another song that can fit the mood; but could not find any. So I settled for “Favourite Mistake” – because one day we will all look back and realise what a fool we were and how this whole thing could have been a mistake; but it certainly is our most favourite mistake (ha ha lagi corny tak boleh?)

iii) Stumbled upon some blogs describing encounters with our boys at North Zone recently concluded (and an impression of MCKK debaters in general); you judge for yourself:

“and for english debate, the final is SERATAS against MCKK... and the funny and wild thing that we (as SYTRA would always do) did is to support SERATAS(by making alphabetical banner) as to intimidate MCKK... nk tau camne kami wat? bila masa seratas, kami angkat banner tu... bila time mc, kami cepat2 bwk turun banner, syhhhh. down..down... hahak... it was all the ungkus' idea .. dia ngan adik dia la. tapi adik dia tak join pon... segan katenye... korang bygkan la, when it came to seratas, u could hear the whole hall was going to collapse...(hiperbola je... maksud dia orang tepuk kuat la...) especially masa bapoo... masa MCKK xde la sgt... kira kami la leader... SMSAH yang blkg kami pon tepuk kuat gak... rasanya sbb diorg kalah dgn mc jgk kot... although SERATAS didn't win over MCKK, kire ok la... we've done our part...”

“Nak dijadikan cerita,pada hari pertandingan,tidak disangka-sangka apabila kami berjaya menewaskan MCKK.Lebih mengejutkan apabila penulis telah dipilih sebagai pembahas terbaik.Kecoh dibuatnya.Di SOKSEK,SBPIKP,kalangan peserta,cikgu dan peserta sekolah lain,semuanya asyik bercerita pasal kemenangan kami.

Ada yang mengatakan bahawa MCKK masih lagi belum menunjukkan 'taring' yang sebenarnya ketika berlawan dengan kami kerana inginkan laluan yang lebih senang. Penulis pun pada mulanya berasa begitu.Nak difikirkan,persembahan kami biasa sahaja.

Pada keesokan harinya, perlawanan dengan STAR pun berlangsung.Namun telah ditakdirkan kami tewas kepada mereka walaupun pada kali ini kami rasakan perlawanan pada kali ini lebih mudah berbanding pusingan pertama dahulu.Keyakinan nak menang pun kuat.”

“Debate tournament uiam ni menjemput seluruh sekolah dari Malaysia ntuk turut serta... gile ternganga melihat budak2 mckk yang hensem dan smart2 (hahahahah~) =p”

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ada Apa Dengan SPM

SPM 2008 was announced last week. Over the years, we become a lot closer to a bigger number of Form 5 each year through the programs we have with MCKK that we take more interest in the SPM results.

Most of the boys did well – the majority of the hockey boys scored 10As; either 9A1s or 8A1s. One of the debaters (Zulikhwan) scored 10A1s – while on average the rest of the debaters did much better than their peers (scoring 9A1s and such), there was also some disappointment along the way.

I take a personal responsibility that some of the boys did not achieve the results they deserve. I know them at the back of my hands and I know what intellectual level they were at – so it was quite a surprise to see some of the results.

As a student, I never had any problem in study throughout my life. I always managed to score top of the class when I want to – so naturally it’s very difficult for me to relate to students who have difficulty in their studies; especially a debater as they were trained to use their brain more than others at that age. I have always assumed that debaters do well in their studies.

Along the way, I noticed that some of the debaters spent too much time running around doing all sorts of things, even as late as one or two months before SPM. I grumbled here and there but more often than not, it was too late an intervention. It broke my heart that they had to lick the wounds on their own, which if the adults had intervened much earlier; it could have been avoided.

(Having written all this, it’s not that they did badly – it’s just that they didn’t get what we think they deserve given their intellectual capacity).

Going forward, we will have to change the manners we look at things. If I did not monitor their academic performance as closely and freakishly as I monitor their debating performance; that will have to change. The boys will have us the coaches breathing down their neck when they start slacking in their studies too. The same thing will apply to the hockey boys – afterwards not only they have to put up with our constant nagging about their littlest fault off the pitch, now they have to face us when they don’t do well in class room too!

(This sounds fun already!)

Anyway – to the boys who are reading this (immediate past and present MCKK boys) – SPM is meant to be a big deal, but it is not the be or end of everything.

SPM is a junction in life, it is a cross road. If you do well, it provides you a shorter route to success; but whether you reach the next cross road shall depend on how you travel the route (shorter as it maybe). If you begin to slack because the temporary success of SPM gets to your head, you will find the shorter route as arduous as any route and may not even complete the route. You then will be worse off than those people who did worse at SPM.

Likewise to those who don’t do as well at SPM, the immediate repercussion is you may not have the same opportunities as your other batchmates who receive scholarships to go overseas – which simply means a longer route for you. But if you change certain things, build in the right discipline and resilience; you will travel the longer route much better than your other batchmates that by the time you reach your next cross road, you may be better than them.

Everything in this life is temporal in nature, it is full of “pit stops” that should serve as a wake up call before we move on to the next stage of our life. SPM is one such pit stop.

The only common denominator that can guarantee the success in this life and thereafter is the qualities that we have as a person and servant of Allah.

As you progress in life, you will find that your degree or from where you graduate only counts when you are called for an interview. The moment you start working, it is your personal qualities that make all the difference – your humility, your agility to adapt to different situations, your eagerness for continuous learning and self-improvement, your resilient to withstand pressure or to stay long enough with a problem, your intellectual capacity to comprehend complex situation, your relationship with people around you, your ingenuity as a person, your charm that inspires people - in short; yourself.

If I were you, I will spend the pre-university and university life building these personal qualities. The years after MCKK are best spent building character, because compared to many other students you would have had a good foundation in MCKK. Your immediate target for your next cross road is to be more matured than your peers that by the time you start working, you stand out compared to your peers because of your maturity.

There are many ways that you can do this. Build in the right disciplines and traits e.g. discipline with time (if you don’t have the right discipline with time during your university years, you’ll have a huge difficulty coping with working life), obsession with putting the best in everything you do, the skill to prioritise (e.g. it’s a lot more important to be matured than to spend 75% of your time with your girlfriend at this stage), build mental capacity to understand adult issues (e.g. you need to be able to comprehend and have an opinion on adult issues such as the political issues, the economic and social issues), and sharpen your communication skill (e.g. being able to talk is not enough, you need to be articulate when you talk).

How do you do this? Well, you cannot be an 18-year old anymore because only adult can acquire the skills I mention before. The moment you decide to be successful in life, that’s when your life as a teenager officially ends.

You have to take part in activities that bring about the adult part of yourself. But then, I say this each year to MCKK’s top crop of SPM achievers. Whether they were adult enough to absorb and to take heed is a different question altogether ha ha.

In spite of what I write here, SPM is a big deal and people should take time to reflect if they did not get what they were supposed to get. I can understand perfectly the sadness, disappointment and the shame that boys go through at this age; because it was a road we too have travelled before.

My batch did well in our SPM trials – one of the best in SBPs – that many of us managed to get scholarships before our SPM results. Fadli, Allen, Jita and I were already in Scotland doing our accelerated A-Levels when the results were announced. Fadli and I had this small problem in our hands because kitorang pandai-pandai pi ambik 10 subjects (which were unheard of in MCKK before that) despite some teachers’ reservation. They thought we were better off concentrating on getting 9A1s, than taking on additional burden of learning an extra subject on our own (in the end it was not the additional subject that pulled us down, it was our own laziness and propensity to enjoy our last moments in MCKK during SPM week).

The school obviously expected both of us to get 10A1s and created a record –unfortunately both of us flunked big time ha ha. It was made worse because the scholars from other SPBs did a lot better than us, so they were very smug about the whole thing (that must have been the happiest moments of their life, having beaten MCKK ha ha).

I spent a good month writing letters to each individual teacher saying sorry for letting them down. My parents were cool about the whole thing (they pretty much treated me as an adult since I was 13) but I didn’t want to imagine the disappointment of the school.

Life was miserable for the few of us (it was a lot more miserable for Fadli because he could not get what he wanted, read here to know more).

Eventually we picked ourselves up, moved on and by the time we finished our A-Levels, Fadli was the best student for Mathematics and Further Mathematics, I for Physics and Chemistry for our graduating batch in 1996. So while life can take its ups and downs, it depends on how we pick up ourselves after each down so that things can only get better.

I am always grateful that my life journey was not smooth – I had many disappointments and failures in the first 3 years of leaving MCKK and a topsy-turvy life in my early 20s – because each of those “pit stops” taught me a lot of lessons in life. I wouldn’t have been who I am today if I had not taken those routes – longer or arduous as they may seem at that time.

Likewise, what may be considered as a failure at SPM is not at all an indication of how you will turn out to be when you grow up.

I end this post with a full disclosure of BETAPA BODOHNYA BAPAK2 ITIK WHEN THEY WERE IN SCHOOL – you judge yourself :-)




1) Bapak2 Itik dipaksa membuat declaration keputusan SPM masing-masing, ala2 asset declaration yg MPs tak buat2 lagi ni.

2) A yang hanya dapat 1 A1 (ha ha tu aku tak citer F9 for 1119 lagi tu) went on to qualify as a chartered accountant with ACCA and MICPA, subsequently promoted at Bank Negara quicker than some of the scholars who scored perfect As in SPM.

3) B and C went on to become accountants and are doing well in their careers, better or at least at par with people who scored higher in SPM.

4) D went overseas for degree, served his bond and had a stint with the biggest company in the world, before he decided to become a full time coach.

5) E went on to become a chartered accountant with ICAEW and often claimed that his interpretations of historical events and religious decree were not understood by the SPM markers.

6) F only wanted to record that he scored A1s for Pendidikan Islam and Sejarah unlike E, but admitted that his SPM results were perfect for the classic consolation remarks such as “this too shall pass”, “SPM is not the end of the world” etc. F is happily kissing ass to survive in the PTD politicking, having done his stint in the private sector.

7) Other Bapak Itiks did not want to disclose for fear of losing respect with the Anak2 Itik (that tells a lot about the results ha ha).

8) Candidates FF to JJ followed the footsteps of E ha ha ha, there’s hope after all for continuation!


SPM 2008: 10A1s 9 orang, 9A1 1A2 20 orang, 8A1 2A2 9 orang, 7A1 3A2 3 orang, 5A1 5A2 seorang, menjadikan jumlah 43 orang straight As.

Compare this with previous years:

SPM 2007: Not tracked, though worse than 2006 and 2005 in terms of straight As
SPM 2006: 10A1s - 6 10As - 27 Straight As - 33
SPM 2005: 10A1s - 16 10As - 34 Straights As - 50

2 people failed SPM 2008, so koleq didn't get 100% pass this year. Don't worry boys - you can be dysfunctional like us, our batch didn't get 100% pass either ha ha.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Blogging from Blackberry: Trainings - 5th Installation

I touched down @ KLIA, picked up the car and was in Kuala Kangsar 3 hours later.

It's the last training for the hockey team and the debaters before their respective big tournaments next week.

Anak2 Itik most probably will be facing the district's arch enemy Clifford in the final on Wednesday. We used to thrash Clifford in hockey but things have changed a lot that it is now an uphill battle to win.

KNO was there since noon today. To my great astonishment, Thorsten drove all the way from KL to train the boys, drove back at 6 pm and will be driving back tomorrow from KL. The wife doesn't want to follow so he has to go back to KL tonight and make a day trip.

(You have to wonder why a stranger like Thorsten does what he does for a bunch of boys he does not understand, but that has been the magic of Migduck - you see kindness from out of nowhere).

Mr Thaman was there too and we saw a sparkle in his eyes. He said to KNO - "it's good to be back".

The debaters' training is supervised by 6 junior coaches from the Classes of 2004 all the way to 2008. Even as I type, 2 simultaneuous mock debates are being held. They too will be facing a difficult task next week - PPM North Zone, a test tournament since most of the debaters are new. From 2006 onwards, we have only lost the championship once last year because we sent a second team. They will have to continue to dominate to do justice to their seniors.

We started with planning - how often do you start a debate training with a planning exercise? They were taught to plan meticulously so that every second counts during their quarantine.

This is our straight 5th week in MCKK. We'll have a 2 weeks' break before the training resumes all over again.

i) The boys protested that my narrative of the last hockey game was inaccurate.

ii) Holland and Kwang wanted to explain that they are capable of reciting doa.

iii) Holland clarified that he was pacing the Common Room because it was hot outside, not because he was nervous.

iv) Holland thought it's not macho that people thought he was nervous.

Apa-apa lah Kadok ha ha asalkan menang lawan Clifford!

Good luck boys :-)

KNO's account of the training here

Monday, March 02, 2009

MC-RMC Weekend 2009

MC-RMC Weekend (or alternately referred to as MC-RMC Carnival) is a long standing tradition between the two schools. It’s a weekend full of games and debates between the students and teaching staff of the two institutions, alternately hosted at Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besi.

MC-RMC Weekend became important to us since we took over the management and coaching of the hockey team in 2007. I was involved even earlier on since my coaching stint with the debating teams started in September 2003.

(I had planned to write a lot but now really don’t know what to write – bad timing I guess).

The game/debate against RMC is always important each year – not because RMC is so formidable, but it’s usually the first game/debate of the season. In a way it became a test gauge to see our boys’ nervousness, their mental and physical fitness and most importantly, as a morale booster. A win against RMC is a mental comfort to them that all the hard work and training drills in the first two months bear some results.

Record wise, whilst the debaters had always trounced the RMC boys (for the record, since I closely follow the outcome, we had defeated RMC in English in 2006 to 2009. For BM, we sent a junior team in 2006 so understandably we lost, won in 2007, lost controversially in 2008 because there was only one judge – an RMC judge – and won again in 2009. RMC had never beaten our BM team in any tournaments since I was in school), hockey teams had a more equitable results (lost in 2007 and drew in 2008).

Another thing about the hockey boys is their utter nervousness and lack of confidence. Understandable really, because they were on their own for a long time and had had mixed results all this while. There was a high expectation that they should win – the desire within themselves to win, the pressure put by certain quarters in the school on the basis that they now have a more decent hockey program (never mind WHO provides the hockey program) and maybe above all, the need to show to the old boys that they have earned our respect.

So while we don’t know what went through their mind before the game, I could somehow guess judging from their behaviours.

Most nervous of them all was the captain himself – Holland. He was pacing up and down the Pavilion Common Room on his own while the rest were all at Balai Sejahtera waiting for the bus. Likewise Kwang stayed away (at the Admin Block if I am not mistaken) and only came at the last minute. The senior Form 5 (the five kids who were with us in Kangar last year) certainly looked more nervous than the innocent-looking juniors, who still couldn’t fathom what this game was all about.

I followed the bus because one of the Form 2s (Tuan) was with me. As expected before we reached the stadium, there was one call from Arip:

“Abang – saya kena patah balik koleq. Tertinggal kasut kat dorm”.

Ha ha – this happens at every game or tournament. One of them will leave something somewhere that we have to quickly turn back. Because of this, my car has long been dubbed as “coaster koleq” by Bapak2 Itik.

The boys did all the necessary rituals before the game – and they did it well. Everyone stood for the College Song in all seriousness; the stadium echoed the song (which I was so proud of because we came a long way compared to the time when they were so timid a few years back they could barely sing the song properly before a game). The brotherhood was serious too (the seniors actually had serious things to say, so they no longer took the brotherhood as a mere get together before a game) and loud. In all respect, even before the game started we have won mentally. I pity the RMC boys who looked nervously from the side of the stadium (RMC only has F4 intakes now so I imagine they would not have known much of the pride and tradition by the time they were in Form 5, as there is nobody senior enough to show them).

This was one of the most important objectives that we had set all along beside winning all games. We wanted them to understand the pride of being a budak koleq, the intimidation that we inflict on others due to our utter composure and confidence, and the subtleness with which we carry ourselves. At least last Saturday, I take comfort that we are getting there in this department.

The game went well – we scored earlier on and it was even a field goal. The first goal was scored by Mizan, a Form 3 (ha ha all the forwards are Form 3s, something unthinkable when we were in koleq). Joe allowed them to try their own formation in the first half and changed to the coaches’ in the second. We always give them the freedom to try out what they think works first and to revert to ours if it doesn’t work out. They scored a second field goal into the 12th minute of the second half; also by a Form 3 (Haziq, a very dedicated player who never missed a training as far as I can recall).

So all went well from the start to the end.

They looked smashing in the new jersey (ha ha the subject of much discussion last month), the supporters performed a very nice and loud Bung Wak twice and to top it all, Mr Thaman Singh was there too.

Mr Thaman Singh retired from MCKK in 1998, after a service spanning two decades at the school. He was a hockey teacher through and through and brought MCKK team to numerous state championships in the 80s, the last one being 1985 (lest we forget, Perak has hockey powerhouses such as Anderson). Our batch was perhaps the last few batches who was fortunate (or unfortunate, depends on how you look at it ha ha) enough to have him as a coach and the hockey boys went on to win the U14 SBP Championship.

Badut and Chibiok had a long chat with Mr Thaman about 2 weeks ago, trying to persuade him to come back and coach the boys. Not because we are calling it a day – but there’s a limit to what we can do if we can only come once a week (let’s not even mention the financial inefficiencies in the whole arrangement, as the money that could have been spent on the kids – is wasted on the weekly travelling).

He was hesitant in the beginning, citing his frustration when he tried to coach the cricket boys some time ago due to lack of discipline among the boys. After much discussion, we agreed that a friend of Mr Thaman, one Mr Bala who used to coach Clifford will help for a small monthly token.
My task this week was to formalise the arrangement and agreed on the small monthly token for Mr Bala.

I was taken aback on both accounts – first, Mr Thaman’s willingness to come back, together with Mr Bala to look after the boys. He was not even pleased when I suggested that we should pay him a token fee each month. I don’t want to presume why he wants to do this at 66 years old; yet having gone through the experience in the last few years – many people under estimate the joy and sense of fulfilment doing this kind of job. For Mr Thaman who had supervised and taught thousands of different boys over the years, it is not difficult to imagine the excitement of reliving those moments all over again with a new bunch of kids.

There is just something very different about taking over a bunch of innocent kids and teaching them what adulthood is all about – and to do this through sport is even more exciting. Two years ago, it would have baffled me to understand the motivation that drives people like Mr Thaman into doing something like this – but it’s a lot easier to understand having gone through the experience ourselves.

Badut suggested one figure as the token sum for Mr Bala. Being a very bad negotiator as I am (when it comes to benda2 macam ni), I actually increased it by a third when I mentioned the figure Mr Thaman. He frowned and nearly scolded me for a sum he thought too high – so he cut it by half! I was nearly jumping with joy –it’s a pitiful sum compared to what we are spending now. Mr Thaman actually said this:

“I don’t want to burden you boys, you are already spending a lot of money”.

He stayed throughout till the end.

Joe gave a short speech after the end of the game. KE (Class of 92) was coaching Holland to say a few words of encouragement to the team, but Holland failed big time ha ha. It was the most robotic and uninspiring victory speech ever; if I were the team mates I would either laugh, or walk out the team in shame ha ha. I managed to squeeze in a couple of words and announced to the team that Mr Thaman and Mr Bala will take over after the MSSD as the permanent coach.

So that was it – in the car going back, KE and I kept saying to each other what a good weekend it was. A lot was achieved within a space of one day.

It’s funny how quickly things moved.

5 months ago we were alarmed at the rate we were drawn into this and it was draining us financially. We explored a few options – mostly trying to get an old boy who is pursuing a teaching profession to go back and look after the boys. We found a few – one was not willing to go back (I guess it’s daunting to teach at MCKK), the few others might not fit the bill. By the time we entered 2009, we have decided to put aside the unresolved question of “exit strategy” (the big question that had been bugging us, because while one hand we don’t want to be doing this forever, we also don’t want it to die the moment we pull back. The idea was to continue to support the hockey team financially for as long as we can hold on, but to allow other people to manage the day-to-day team in the future) and concentrated on the boys.

Who would have thought that barely two months later the mid term solution presented itself in the form of Mr Thaman and Mr Bala? And it is a solution that solves more than one issue – I also wanted the boys to have more exposure to the non-Malays, especially the older ones so that they can appreciate the variety of experience and discipline. After all, Mr Thaman is famous for his pickiness when it comes to discipline.

Just after Mighty Ducks Cup 2008 – we convinced ourselves that help will come when we least expect it, if we do this sincerely. I will not proclaim that our prayers have been answered, but help certainly has come our way. Perhaps Mr Thaman too appreciated the foolishness of a bunch of old boys who conned ourselves into thinking that we can make a champion out of a nearly hopeless team of hockey players just by coming back once a week ha ha.

Half the job is done, now we can talk about an astroturf in MCKK (ha ha gurau je…..)

MCKK Debating Teams, with 80% new faces who maintain our records with RMC yet again.

Anak-anak Itik, for overcoming the first mental hurdle this year, en route to bigger things I hope.

Kataque (Class of 88), who was there to watch the start of the game

KE (Class of 92), who had supported the team and undertaking from day 1 even when many others thought that this is just a scam to find excuse to buy Yut Loy paus

Scam (Class of 01), who came all the way from KL to understand what I have been telling about the satisfaction of reliving the moments supporting an MCKK team (and eventually became the unofficial cameraman for the day)

Joe and wife, whom made it despite an emergency that morning and the predicament he is in now – for begging the title as the “coach who was there” when the boys won their first game this year

Bapak2 Itik – who never grow tired of this. We’ll have a dinner celebration (by this I mean a teh tarik) when I come back from overseas the week after (errr after MSSD tournament, so if we are lucky we can have an even bigger celebration he he)

Joe’s accounts, more photos from Facebook