Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Road to North Zone 2012: Camping, Jersey and Badut

Good omen that we may give a good fight for this year's north zone SBP's hockey tournament:

1) Badut getting all sentimental after the camping and has not recovered from a massive withdrawal syndrome judging from his SMS:

" Just to say that the team building was a success despite all the drama and hiccups. Just tgk the video and kind of missing the hockey team already. Looking forward to see the team perform masa north zone :)"

"I showed some of the videos tue [aku tak pernah faham why Badut would spell "to" as "tue"] my wife last nite and she said this team seems to be very receptive and full of confidence. Ada jugak part yang kau kata kau bengang sebab kita antar zul to ketuk the pintu hihi"

2) The team building camping went very well and perhaps the smoothest despite all the hiccups 

We had never done any camping without Wong. That was his department so we took cue and made sure that he would be around and outdoor activities are his forte.

Unfortunately, he could not make it this time as he was already away on another outdoor trip with another group. Some people suggested that we postponed or canceled the camping (ehem ehem) but I was adamant that it must happen because I already promised the boys (as always). After all, the window is very small and if we miss this date, they would have to go to the tournament without the camping first.

We wanted to do it in Manjung so that we could close it with a friendly match with old boys (especially those from batches who had gone through the Mighty Ducks Project). Unfortunately, the response was not encouraging that it was pointless to do it in Manjung, so at the last we shifted it to Ulu Kenas. We could not get the confirmation from Ulu Kenas either so about 3 days before the camping, I called Kem Intan Suraya.

The owner (a nice auntie in her 60s) instantly remember us and said "yang ni projek Donald Duck tu kan?"

In between suppressing my giggling and trying to stay focus on the conversation, we booked the venue at the last minute.

Then we did not have the tent for the camping, but rescue came from MCKK (which actually has really nice tents for this sort of activity).

On the day itself, we had another problem - with only one car going in the morning to receive the boys, we could not fit the 5 people and all the camping stuff (periuk belanga Coleman dapur memasak etc) into the boot. Some of the boys (Mizan and Nash from Class of 2011 came along) had to squeeze at the back and we had to put bags in between someone's legs ha2.

Not even half way through, my car's air-cond went kaput. It was one of the most uncomfortable journey ever but the boys survived (though they were not pleased, of course) and we reached Sungai Siput in one piece.

From there on it was perfect - the cooking was perfect (I meant no nasi lemak bubur, no sirap ayam, no bihun goreng gumpal etc like in yesteryears). Even when it was pouring on the last night and all our kayu api that we collected earlier on was soaking wet, we still managed to start a good fire for BBQ.

This was also the camping with most hockey content, with the boys treated to a few games of hockey (apart from the usual simple fitness drill etc.)

3) I did not lose my temper

Frankly speaking, I started the camping with a foul mood since Canoe and I and A were the only taxpaying adults to do everything when the boys arrived - Badut, Chibik, Pak Tuan and Ober (Class of 99) only arrived about 1 am in the morning with Zul (Class of 2010).

Understandably I didn't pick any call though it was more because the phone was on silent mode throughout (ha2 yeah right).

When Badut rang me at 143 am, I was 20 minutes into my first nap in the previous 36 hours so I didn't pick up.

In the end, they had to cheat and send the ever innocent Zul to knock the door of our chalet at 2 am to get in. Whatever anger building up fizzled out immediately the moment Zul flashed his jittery smile and I thought "oowh come on in and get on with it".

4) This team has more common sense than the previous teams

And how do we determine that? Because they completed all the tasks that the previous teams struggled in a jiffy with much better results. They had clearer thought process, they worked better in a team and they were more at ease with each other.

I attribute this to the fact that the majority of the players are F3s and F2s. Their seniors (F4 and F5) are wise enough to make way for them so they discarded any notion of seniority complex in the team that the juniors can joke and communicate freely with the seniors. In the process, there was less inhibition and the team could float an idea and discuss freely (compared to some teams in previous years).

That was why it was a lot easier to work with them throughout the camping and it was so much fun - you did not have to shout to get them to clean up, they were punctual most of the time, they organise themselves well.

Good stuff for the tournament.

4) Sleeveless jersey 

The boys had always wanted a set of sleeveless jersey. I vetoed them year after year because I think they were too skinny.

By a sheer twist of fate, when we were selecting a new jersey for the team, even the smallest of size available (S) would be too big for them because most of them are small.

In the end, we had to settle for a special type of sleeveless line - the size is purposely designed to be smaller and would fit the boys well. I hope they will finally get rid of the superstition that one set of jersey carries more luck than the other, now that they have the sleeveless set as they had always asked.

5) The boys are organised and show more initiatives than some previous teams

So far they look more determined and organised. They haggle me more often with SMS (ha2 on top of all the other things I had to put up) and they put up their own Facebook page to communicate/focal point for hockey related matters. At least they show a bit more ownership this time around.

If you want to show support for their initiatives, please go to their Facebook page and "like" the page as an encouragement.

So, Badut's excitement to see them play in the next tournament is not an exaggeration - these boys did beat some odds and showed a bit more promise than some teams we have encountered so far.

Anyway, talk is cheap. Best to see them in action - so far I have managed to upload these videos, enjoy :-)


I have been meaning to blog about this for a while. The rest are excuses so let’s spare every one.

During many of my short trips to up north in the past 3 months, I dropped by at the MCKK hockey pitch to see how the boys were doing. Was quite impressed with their skills and determination despite the obvious lack of attention given, especially compared to their seniors. Over time, it feels like falling in love with the whole thing all over again (if that is even possible).

We have been doing this – looking after MCKK hockey team – since January 2007. By early 2010, due to a combination of events and factors, it was obvious that the bulk of the group who started it with me decided to “gantung stick hockey” (or become Itik Pencen as regularly referred to by Joe). I had to make a choice by then because my confrontation with the school administrators had gone from bad to irreconcilable and I decided to risk everything to see changes effected at the top of MCKK leadership.

That episode warrants another full write up but the first 5 months of 2010 took a great toll on the Mighty Ducks Project – it made the writing on the wall so clear to me that we had reached the end of the road. The national level inter-SBP hockey tournament was supposed to be the last tournament that we ever supported, we were supposed to fade away. We said goodbye to the boys and 2011 went by quietly for the boys with hardly any appearance by us.

But then I forget that absence makes heart grows fonder. In a way, they were never absent in the first place. Mr Pala continued to update me, the boys from Class of 2011 kept in touch and on their own soldiered on. They enrolled into tournaments on their own, picked up the pieces together and ended the Mighty Duck years with one step closer to our target – they became 2nd in Perak after being defeated by Anderson in 2011 (which was beyond our imagination).

My life also took a different turn, completely opposite from what I ever planned. Life is truly what happens to you while you were busy planning other things, so I agreed with Lennon time and time again. All the private space that I so cherished all my life is no longer there, that in the end I looked around and desperately wanted to cling to whatever remnants of the life I left behind.

The more you walk away, the more you yearn for some bits of the past to remain, what more when that past represents the purest of your intentions.

Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that on 2nd February, just recently landed from a long overseas trip, I decided to take the day off to drive to KK.

It started with a short SMS from Badut telling that the boys would be in the district tournament and they stood a chance to clinch the championship from Clifford. I called Badut and asked if he wanted to do the unthinkable – drop everything and drive 200+ km away just to see a bunch of kids whom you do not know play hockey.

He must have missed the adrenalin as much as I did, so together with A (who shall not be named), we made our way (above the speed limit) to catch the final match with Clifford. I did not want to miss any single minute of it that I kept praying the game would be delayed.

Lo and behold, it was delayed indeed. The prayers were answered – only it was not postponed by half an hour, they decided to do it the next morning because the turf was flooded.

200+ km away from life and after 2 hours of speeding, we ended up in quiet Kuala Kangsar for a game that would not take place.

But as with everything sweet about Mighty Ducks in the past, a little misadventure like that opens the door for something more meaningful. We decided to see the boys for a pep talk one day before their match, bought them pizzas (which they finished in 15 minutes and not a single piece left to us) and in the process I fell in love with the whole thing all over again.

When I open the Mighty Ducks fan page on the Facebook, the irony of it all comes rushing at me. We initially talk about “hockey revival” in MCKK when we started in 2007. It now comes to one full circle and I realise the one who needs so much of a revival is me, not the team. I realise for my own sanity and everything that has defined me in the past, I need Mighty Ducks Project more than they need me so that even in the harshest of reality, there is a sanctuary of pure kindness not maligned with everything that is wrong with this society that I can always fall back to.

Welcome back Mighty Ducks Project J

As for the result, the pep talk certainly was not effective. The boys lost 3-2 to Clifford after leading 2-0 during the first part of the game. I blame Badut.

Thanks so much to my other half who understands there is certain thing that I have to do in order to keep myself together. I am incapable of saying this being an emotional retard, but I know some people do read the blog J