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that we had to rely on getting as many penalty corners as possible – so KNO’s main strategy to get penalty corners was no longer valid.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.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.
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.
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”