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