*Hawgood brought in without consulting the minister and NSC

* Australian’s job as consultant leaves a big question mark

THERE is no turning back for the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) as they will have to prepare themselves for life without their incumbent president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the Crown Prince of Pahang.

Tengku Abdullah, who is also the president of the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) after he was elected to the post uncontested following the demise of Sultan Azlan Shah, the Sultan of Perak in May last year, is “fed up” with the “politics” in the national hockey body – which has rocked MHC lately.

Tengku Abdullah is currently in Australia for the on-going Asian Cup football tournament.

The latest issue which left a big question mark is the appointment of Australia Neil Hawgood as a consultant although he was strongly tipped to be the next foreign coach to take over the hot seat vacated by South African Paul Revington who resigned a year ago,.

Sources revealed that Hawgood, whose last post was coach of the India women’s hockey team, was brought in without getting the approval of Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar and the National Sports Council. That is why he cannot be appointed as the coach and was instead appointed as consultant, which itself surprised many.

“He cannot be made the coach without the approval of the Sports Minister and the NSC…as they will be his pay masters. To bring him without the approval of the two is asking for trouble. That is why he is only appointed as a consultant,” said the sources.

MHC senior vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad has now become the “voice of MHC” and announced the appointment of Hawgood as a consultant during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Monday after a meeting with NSC director-general Ahmad Shapawi Ismail and elite programme acting director Ariffin Ghani in Bukit Jalil.

NSC has ordered MHC to put their “house in order” and hold their long overdue annual general meeting which was supposed to be held by May 31 last year. It was postponed to a later date to allow MHC make some changes to their constitution and held an extraordinary general meeting in Johor Bahru on Oct 13 during the Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational tournament to make the changes.

However the changes to the constitution failed to get the approval of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as it failed to meet certain requirements of the world governing body. Among them is age limit, gender requirement, suspensions and anti-doping clauses.

Nur Azmi, who is also the team manager for the World League Round 2 which will be held in Singapore from Jan 17-25, also revealed at the press conference that “financial constraints” is another factor in hiring a foreign coach.

“Some sponsors who had pledged money for MHC have failed to bank in what was promised. This has affected our coffers. So we have put on hold the hiring of a foreign for now. We will wait and see what happens next.”

It is likely that the decision on a foreign coach could be made only after the MHC holds its AGM sometime in March or April.

Hawgood’s first task as consultant is to help temporary head coach Tai Beng Hai and his assistant Stephen van Huizen during the World League 2. Malaysia are in Group A and have Singapore, Ukraine and Oman for company.Grfoup B is made up of Japan, Poland, Bangladesh and Mexico.

The top three teams in Singapore will qualify to the World League semi-finals which will be hosted by either Argentina or Belgium. 

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