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Archive for January 21, 2007

Jan. 21, 2007 — Wow.

I’ve heard of sports teams leaving cities before — franchises in North American sport such as the Cleveland Browns, Winnipeg Jets, Baltimore Colts, and Montreal Expos have shopped their “entertainment value” around to multiple towns and have up and left town to get the best deal.

I’ve heard of entire sports teams being traded — one famous situation saw the entire roster of the Chicago Blitz being traded for the entirety of the Arizona Wranglers after the 1983 season.

But have you ever heard of an entire team being out-and-out fired?

That’s what happened to the Malaysian men’s field hockey team after finishing sixth in the Asian Games last month in Doha, Qatar. The New Straits Times reports that after a Jan. 2 meeting of the Malaysian Hockey Federation, the decision was made to hire new coach Sarjit Singh and to target qualification for London 2012 rather than make an effort at quailfying through one of the three last-chance tournaments for Beijing 2008 next year.

It’s a stunning development: the Malaysian men are ranked 14th in the world and could very well win their qualifying tournament since they would likely only have to play only one team ranked ahead of them.

“The management committee endorsed Sarjit as the national chief coach, and his immediate target will be to qualify for the 2012 Olympics,” MHF deputy president Tunku Abdul Majid Sultan Iskandar tells The New Straits Times. “It was also decided that the national team be disbanded, and Sarjit will call up 40 players for training after the Australian Youth Olympics.”

To me, it’s a regrettable move borne of cynics rather than trying to fix what’s actually wrong with the Malaysian hockey culture. It’s not as though the nation’s soccer culture is any better; the 144th-ranked men’s soccer team has never qualified for a World Cup and has seen calls for the disbanding of the country’s national governing body.