Dedicated to all hockey players who had gone through us,
from the Class of 2007 to Class of 2014.
By the time you receive this letter, it would have been almost a week since the national tournament. We said a lot of things back then I am not sure whether you kids can memorise all.
Truth is, you don’t need to memorise lessons in life – they will come back to remind you. Lessons in life are almost like dejavu, you only recall it as you go through a similar experience in the future.
It’s been a very long time since I last wrote to you kids. I checked my records and that was in 2008. It will be ironic that to many of you, this letter is the first and the last. Most of you will not understand what is written here, and you don’t need to understand half of it until you achieve adulthood. So I ask you to keep this letter and revisit it one day, when your mastery of the language is a lot better and it will make a lot of sense.
I must congratulate all of you for playing well and showing a fighting spirit worthy of MCKK. That couldn’t have happened if you had not worked hard and understood the meaning of this all – for that I must thank all of you.
When I was in Form 5, your present HM was my English teacher for 2 years. He was also very close to me by our association in the debating team – Mr Anand was the debating coach as well as football coach. His age then was more or less our age now. My batch was very close to him and Cikgu Yati because we came in together in 1990 and he coached our football team, but towards the end of our Form 5, he had to attend a long course in Singapore so he didn’t have the chance to say goodbye face to face to us. He faxed us a simple letter from Singapore, dedicated to all of us in Class of 94, as follows:
“To the Class of 94 – you gave so much joy and so less pain. A teacher couldn’t have asked for more”
Growing up in the shadow of an old boy like one Anand Baharuddin taught us many things that subconsciously we brought into our daily lives. As we grow older, our worldview of tolerance and “happy go lucky” was not much different from what he was at our age. He was not judgmental and so we became as we grew older. The influence of a mentor to look up to when you grow up is one the most important difference that Malay College had offered in the past – I grew up in the shadows of great people who have great talents and offered themselves for services to the society.
That was the cornerstone of the Mighty Ducks Project – to ensure that the MCKK boys, drawn from all corners of Malaysia and represented the best and ablest of our Malay boys – can grow up in a shadow of people they can look up to and in the process realise their greatest potential. Sports is a medium, through which we learn brotherhood, pain, agony, joy, laughter, hard work, discipline, leadership, gentlemen manners, perseverance and all the traits that set us apart from others.
The Mighty Ducks Project was conceived over teh tarik in one mamak restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. We didn’t have money, we didn’t have big budget or big names to back us up, we only have one thing. We have honesty and the foolish (and naive) worldview that when your heart is right, Allah will guide and help you.
True enough, money was never the biggest problem although you boys consumed a lot. In the early days, we had to pamper your seniors a lot to build the bonds with us – so they had a lot more meals and privileges compared to you. Over the years our trips to KK increased exponentially that took a big toll on our monthly expenditure. There came a point that we have to buy all your sporting equipments for the team that was not cheap for one whole hockey team.
But we managed and we survived. Somehow there’s always someone from our batch, or other ex-hockey players, who chip in to pay.
We managed and we survived because we wanted to continue to go back. We wanted to continue to go back because you kids were worth every little second and ringgit we spent on you. We beamed with pride when your skills improved from week to week and we never stopped talking about you kids after each game – recalling who did what, or how this kid has grown etc.
You and your seniors represented one of the best parts of my (and our) life for the last four years – because you provided so much joy and escape from the world that we are in. You represent innocence, honesty, originality and most importantly hope. You are my hope that I can provide hope to strangers I meet in my life. You are our living evidence that there’s still so much kindness in this world despite whatever dirt we go through each day. Your eyes represent eagerness that is hard to describe – I wish you never lose that look in your eyes as you grow older because the world will be a better place if everyone has the same honesty.
Of course I had a laundry list of wishes unfulfilled too. I wish you were as close to us as your seniors had been, but I also understand that over the years our age gap widens and I am close to your parents’ age to some of you, so it’s only natural that there is a communication wall. I wish you write and express yourself more so that I don’t have to guess what goes through your mind, but then I also wish the same thing with my nephew and he too had difficulty expressing himself. I wish you picked up things a lot quicker and win more games, yet I know this is not about winning.
And most importantly, I wish this could go on forever but you and I know it has to come to an end. It is not our place to be around you all the time and it was never meant to be this way. We were meant to supplement whatever support you have from the environment you live in.
So with a heavy heart, we have to say good bye. We will come back occasionally for events that had become landmarks for Mighty Ducks Project i.e. the annual camping and The Mighty Ducks Cup. We will try to be at your tournaments but that will be increasingly difficult as our schedules won’t match (or we won’t be able to bend backwards to match our schedules anymore). I know that going to tournaments without us for the first time might be awkward, but you are Malay College boys and you know how to carry yourself to our standard.
Finally, what is to become of you and me and the whole Mighty Ducks experience.
I want you to know how much you have been loved and how lucky to have been loved unconditionally. You kids have formed a major part of our life and we took interest in you as much as we took interest in our own kin. Your smile and laughter moved us, your sadness and sorrow pained us. My hope is one day you look back and return our kindness to the next generation – knowing that as much as Mr Anand had had a great impact on our upbringing, we hope that we too had a similar impact on your upbringing for the last four years.
I also want you to know that you are a bunch of talented kids. When I see you, I do not see Nasa, Zul, Azu, Mizan, Amo, Haziq, Mirza, Syahmie, Nash, Apai, Tuan or Amir – I see great doctors, lawyers, leaders in your own right in the future. We want you to go as far as you can in the future, much better than anyone of us had been thus far – so that you can give more than you take.
For that, you must believe in yourself and all the things you are capable of, in the same way that we believe in ourselves when we first wanted to do the Mighty Ducks Project though the odds were stacked against us. Faith and belief is a powerful combination – I hope if you learn anything from Mighty Ducks, you learn to believe in yourself.
So we come to this point when we must say good bye formally to you. I hope you had given thoughts about how to do one final appreciation for Mr Thaman, before he goes into his next adventure.
As for us, we do not ask anything in return – only to remember the best of Mighty Ducks years, because that is how we remember each one of you. When you look at the jerseys, we hope you remember us. When you go down to the turf, we hope you remember how difficult it was to bring you to the turf in the initial years. When eventually you will have a cheering squad supporting you, we hope you remember how it used to be a group of 5 – 10 mad old boys who sang endlessly for you at your tournaments, since no one else ever bothered. When one day hockey has made a come back as a major game in MCKK, we hope you remember it was not always the case and you and us had fought a long battle and journey for the recognition.
Beyond that, the pleasure has been ours all along. One day when you are at our age, I hope you too see the wisdom of doing this and why it is so important for the sanity and purity of your soul.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavours, we are always a phone call away. Have a nice rest because rain or shine, the show must go on. Mr Pala will see you on the hockey pitch each day at 5 pm, sharp.
You Found Me is apt to describe how we found each other and provided emotional cushion for the last four years. We found each other among ourselves and re-make a friendship and brotherhood that otherwise would have drifted away. The boys found us and though certain things could have been better, deep inside I know they will go through withdrawal as much as we have to, because the bond has been much stronger than a normal old boy - present boy relationship.