The national hockey team lacked one major thing that is needed to restore their pride and dignity… and that is respect.
That is the damning revelation by former national players Mirnawan Nawawi and Nasihin Nubli during a 1½-hour live chat with fans via the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Facebook page on Saturday.
The duo believed the current crop of players are talented and hardworking but added that these two criteria are not enough for the team to progress to a higher level.
Nasihin, who is part of the national team coaching staff, was blunt in his assessment.
He recalled that in the past, players would usually greet the coaches before and after training whereas the current generation of players are not bothered.
“To me, respect is important. The players are talented and disciplined but lacked respect. When a coach arrives for training, he is not greeted by the players. Is this the attitude of the new generation?” questioned the former national team goalkeeper.
“In the past, whether in victory or defeat, we will speak to our coaches because we valued their input. Players have to play that role.
“I have worked with many coaches and each has their own personality. For me, we have to follow the coach’s rules to succeed.”
The 1998 Commonwealth Games team captain Mirnawan said since his debut in 1989, he had worked with many coaches and had always shown respect towards them.
He pointed out that one of his coaches, Volker Knapp, came to Malaysia relatively as an unknown but took them to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and 1998 Utrecht World Cup.
“Knapp only had coached clubs in Germany back then, but we still respected him. We followed his methodology, programmes and ideas.
“We gave our best no matter who is the coach, ” said Mirnawan.
“Coaches have a huge responsibility to bring a team forward. Yes, two-way communication between coach and player is essential but we as players have to respect the process.
“Work together with the coaches, ” stressed Mirnawan, who is also deputy chairman of the national team committee in MHC.
Meanwhile, national coach Roelant Oltmans, who was also part of the live chat, believed that hard work is more important than talent.
“You can be talented but if you do not have the work rate or desire, it will be hard for you to be part of my team.
“When I first took over Malaysia, the players’ fitness level were not of international standard but now it has improved, ” said the Dutchman.
“Also, personality is important. Take former Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman for example. He was a colourful character but on game day, he performs. He was the best rebounder and his teammates respected that.
“And more importantly, he played not for personal glory but for the team.
“That is what I want in my team. I want talented individuals to think of the team and win it for the team, not themselves. You can be different, but just perform and… no ego.”