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Malaysian Success Story: Part II: Dharmaraj: "I ha (5/16/2012)
--K. Arumugam
Malaysian Success Story: Part II
Dharmaraj: "I hate to lose'
Foresees big picture for Malaysia:

If self-belief is the secret mantra of success, this man has it enough.

Malaysian coach Dharmaraj believed in his team, and the team did not belie his hopes. Normally, a title victory in a Junior category tournament should not be so big but if it comes in two decades, there is something in it to sit up and take note of. This is the stage at which Malaysian hockey relishes right now.

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But Dharamaraj, the successful coach, analyses past of Malaysia, and feels it is caught by the mental block, of not elevating themselves to top spot, ever willing to wallop in mediocrity. He opines that if Malaysia has to strike big, which it deserve, it has to aim big, dream big.

“I cannot get up in the morning, do hard work on the field knowing well my team is going to lose. The winning mentality had been conspicuous by its absence in us for long. This is how we national players in Malaysia are sadly saddled with in our entire international life. We played for so many years knowing we are not going to win”, Dharamraj dwelt deep into the life and times of his Malaysian career. .

"This has to go now,and forever", he advocates a pro-active image for the country.

"For me, to achieve a pre-set target is not everything. That is only academic. For example, qualifying for the Delhi Jr. World Cup may be target for many, but to me its not. Its winning the title. Unless you win big, nobody is going to take you note of, the players' toil will go unnoticed. Today my country sees in us a winning trait, it was achieved not because we qualified for the Jr. World Cup. Its because we won the title. This is what we should aim, do and execute if we want to get rid of mediocre past, and stride into the new era”, he says.

undefined At the same time, Dharamaraj knows top notch victories in Asia, where India, Korea and Pakistan still are super powers is not easy, but surmountable.

Once you instill confidence in the boys, transformation will be terrific. I openly said my target is title, not just qualification. My boys delivered. Now perhaps you cannot stop them, they are already role models, known faces in the country”, elated coach elaborates.

Those close to him concur that big dream should befit ruthless training, control the minds and body of the players, strict screening of talent etc.

“There were so many obstacles. I was pulled down by many, a section of officials, coaches etc. Many of them could even stop some players training. At the same time, I believed in my work, and kept working on the talent. I gave enough chances to prove every players who came to me. But once I felt a particular player does not suit my plan, I did not mind chasing them away".

undefined "Yes, I may have left out about 30 players by now, and its no longer a worry because I gave them enough chances to improve, too”.

"At the same time, not many coaches would have dared to persist, groom and focus on talent like Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof, who went on to score the winner against India in the semis. Suffice to say, my patience paid off”, Dharmaraj introspects.

Dharam took over Project 2013 squad midway through 2009. It was a good concept which after the Jr. Asia Cup success, is fast becoming an object of envy for those who eye true development of sport.

However, there are always wheels within wheels. Support, both moral and physical, came in fits and starts. Some section pushed them to corner, not willing to accord the kind of support the concept legitimately deserved.

Now those hurdles are thing of past. However, what hurts me even now is, attitude of people not to take us seriously, and even come out with comments when we showed results on the turf.

undefined When the colts did reasonably won or drew many matches in Spain and Poland, those were dismissed as winning clubs, without ever knowing those were the national junior sides preparing for the European Cup.

Even when the team won the senior cadre SEA Games, it did not elicit any open appreciation.

“We were in the finals of the AHF Cup in Burma after defeating India in our league. We lost to Pakistan in the final. Yet, what we heard was top officials telling, India did not send first team like that”.

“We discussed all these in the team meetings, and motivated the boys. They were mentally hardened to deliver”.

Dharma feels Malaysia should aim qualification of Olympics, and it should be by becoming Asian Champions.

“If we have to realize our potential, it should be in our own territory first. Why to fall back to Qualifier cesspool when we can take the first route, of winning Asian Games?".

"Even today, Malaysia’s focus should be 2016 Asian Games, win it, and thus qualify for the Rio De Jeneiro Olympics”.

undefined Former Malaysian star, stylist Mirnawan Nawami, now sports a new role as manager, echoes.

“Yes. Motivating the players is vital. Its mind that delivers. Once you inspire these young minds they turn out unstoppable, invincible. I told the boys before the all important final, give your best. The injury if you get today while tackling and giving your best, will heal. But if we lost without offering good fight, or giving our best the sadness will live your life time”.

Its not only the question of motivating the players, but also entire team that stands by, namely the other coaches and pros.

Simply put it, Malaysians try to match hardwork and vision to inspiration, and Dharmaraj is lucky to have a bunch of hardened support in Azlan Baker, Gopinathan (another international of fame), Natarajan (former international goalie), Dr. Saju Joseph, an all rounder who can handle general training, video analyst, in addition to his professional field of bio-mechanics. Saju, in fact was part of many Indian teams, especially juniors, for almost a decade. He was there when India won its first Asia Cup in 2004, and now with another winning team, Malaysia.

“Availing services of professionals are must. Its easy to correct and improvise techniques of players with their inputs, its quicker and lethal’ says Dharma, whose winning mantra is trust people, and a right support staff is as vital as right players.

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