Monday, December 15, 2008

Post WEC :Where Do We Go From Here .

Fellow 'Endurancers' ,

Post World Endurance Championship ,Lembah Bidong Terengganu .Where do we go from here ?A million dollar question .

Let us not discuss how much WEC costs us .That is beyond mere mortals like you and me and anyway it was a monumental success from the viewpoint of Malaysians as perfect host.We always are .

From the perspective of actual performance of Team Malaysia ,OK friends ,I have promised I am not going to go over it again ,lest I will qualify myself for the firing squad .OK ,so ,where do we go from here ?

First and foremost ,let us look at Bahrain and Qatar .Forget about UAE ,since UAE is a million miles ahead ,not from just us but from the rest of the world .Some blokes in the USA are even thinking of opting out of FEI Endurance because even USA , a former superpower in Endurance a decade ago has now been reduced to the dustbin of history .

What about Bahrain and Qatar ?They were just in the 'kindergarten' just like us when Dato Awang ,myself and a few others were at it in Europe some 8 years back ,now they are 2nd and 3rd in the WEC Team Championship .Where have we gone wrong ?It is not due to lack of funding [c'mon we have overspent millions on team preparation !].Poor planning ?Lack of confidence in ourselves ?Not our sport ?[ then may I suggest we go back to sepak takraw ]

I think it is a combination of all of the above plus a couple more [ cari makan factor etc etc ], but from now on let us use more of our 'grey mater' .It may help . It is quite painful at least for me to see all those millions wasted while we are seeing our sport developing in the way we would not like to be ie .....ism that would kill the initial competitive route that it was naturally taking prior to the WEC preparation frenzy .Govt funding and help ? Yes ,yes and yes but we have to thread a careful line here in case we become overdependent .We want individuals to still dream of buying and owning their own mounts and bringing them up to a level able to give the 'big boys' a run for their money .We want people who pride themselves in beating the odd on their way to the podium and say for example "RTES or Al Raudhah can go and fly kites ,I can still beat you despite your superior every thing " !That is healthy development .

This is how I look at the future post WEC if we are to progress and develop the breadth and depth of our sport in a healthy and holistic manner and in the most economical and realistic way :

1.Chief de Quippe.

We should certainly look beyond efficient 'water carriers' and 'transport' managers .Also beyond EAM Endurance Chairman who has to play to the gallery for popular votes and so called 'palace'rating.An effective CDQ must be someone who knows 'endurance ' like the back of his knuckles ,may be a vet ,may be a rider or better still an ex rider ,who most importantly must be willing to be unpopular ,especially with the riders whom he chooses ! .Unsalaried of course .Not necessarily in the EAM but may be co-opted member ,answerable to the EAM President but not neccesarily 'kowtaying' to him .He must 1st and foremost be independent in mind and spirit .He plan ,set up the selection criteria and sit with a committee for selection and preside that committee .Hire and fire .In short a supremo .Some of you may think Ia m describing a 'devil' .Well in Malaysia ,to get us somewhere you have to be a little 'devil' .The Kelantanese has got a better name for such individuals .Give him a tenure of 3 years ie beyond EAM but such 'devil' will sack himself if he think he is not up to the mark .Find that 'devil' .Of course he has to operate with one or two assistants and some nominal budget from EAM or whatever .

If people think the CDQ has to be from EAM then by all mean let the Endurance Chairperson be the CDQ .A supremo CDQ who does not bow to pressure from within and without .Still a little'devil' .

2.International Competitions

This is free country .People can compete where they like and their results and experience will be taken into overall consideration by the CDQ but from the National interest of carrying our 'Jalur Gemilang' there are only several that it is imperative we have to be there .Off the cuff I can only think of 3 :The annual Open European Championship ,WEC/WEG and since we are already in the club ,The President's Cup in Dubai .Sending a team of riders or one pallet ,to carry our Jalur Gemilang to these event is 'small money' compared to the amount we have spent in our team preparation for WEC .We have to learn to do things economically ,cut off the frills and the 'makans and the unnecessary "kompangs etc etc ".EAM or ISN should be looking at funding ,leave the CDQ to do his job .Branding and finance is not his job ,it is EAM and ISN .If any EAM President is not aware of this he should not be there .The CDQ's brief is to move around ,know the horses and the riders and have a 'movable' but fair premise for selection of the Malaysian team for any international event .No hiding behind 'monolithic' committees who at the end of the day bear no responsibility for total failure .A typical Malaysian scenario .

3.Local Competitions

I look at the Sultan's Cup as already a '3 star' brand.It would be a pity to just go back to the original format .Go on a higher 'plane' at less cost .Bring it to the level of The President's Cup of Dubai but at lesser cost by decreasing the 'volume'.Achieve 4 star or 5 star status by increasing the prize money ,decrease the distance to 120 km or maintain the same ie 160 km ,invite only continental champions to challenge local riders say one pallet each from USA ,South America , one from Europe and one from Australia and New Zealand .

UAE ,Bahrain and Qatar can fly in on their own as many riders they like .If we have the right 'jalan' with the 'Pak Sheikhs' ,even the Sultan's Cup they can sponsor .They have been doing this with all other big rides around the world .Just the right 'jalan' .

These visitors to bring their best horses and best riders .We learn from them .And dont forget ,Branding .Teranggannu has all the potential of being a major tourist destination .We are better than that cheap skate sex destination in Phuket .If properly branded ,may even be better than Bali .

The rest of competitions concentrate on more 80's and 120's ,just maximum only 2 160's .We already have the toughest ride in the world [AL Raudhah] ,the best 120 in the World ,Gunong ,Kota Bharu and a few others to play around .Revamp the rides rulings by EAM to make the rides more inclusive rather than exclusive .Some vets at present are making new people to shy away from endurance by their stiff interpetation of the rules and making more rules .The new EAM rules on endurance are in my opinion convoluted and difficult to implement .So convoluted that if we let some vets to totally dictate the rules of our sport ,there will be no riders to take part in any class .Some of them are 'control freaks' .There must be balance .We endurancers are still small in numbers ,let us be more practical .

Look into establishing another class of ride ie for the 'local ponies' of certain height .Again be inclusive .We want endurance to also be a 'sukan raayat' .


Over the past few years we have grown in number which is very good .The big ones like Al Raudhah ,RTES and TMKN Stable lead the way by virtue of unlimited funding etc etc but in laissez faire economy this is healthy .Small clubs ,State funded clubs and individuals [ like me ] are encouraged to steal some thunder from the big boys .What is worrying to many of us is the unimpeded flow of public funding to a selected few of the present 'big boys'in the past which is not healthy at all to the sport .They do not need help to procure horses etc etc .This create a new form of ..ism which would negate progressive competitiveness of others .The initial edge obtain is small compared to the overall negative effect to the sport .People who hold the purse string on public fund should be aware of this unhealthy trend .it would kill the sport .Leave it alone .Channel your fund to a central body like EAM to manage for competition purposes rather than procurement of horses etc etc for the selected few .

In my estimation ,endurance can go a long way in the route towards 'Sukan Untuk Negara' .We just need to put our 'grey mater' more into it rather than just follow our 'basic cari makan'instinct .At the International Level we need not bring in the medals ,being there is enough .Post WEC ,we have to keep working harder and reconfigure our "Brand Malaysia" .


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