Saturday, August 16, 2008
Johannians in the late 80s hated the sight and the mere mention of Mirnawan Nawawi's name. As the RMC leading hockey player, Mirnawan used to go on a scoring spree against SJI.
That aside, the boy from Malacca was a sight to behold with his mazy dribbling skills. Mirnawan was one of the reasons I frequented the Tun Razak Stadium in Jalan Duta those days, besides spewing obscenities at Arrifin Ghani's "missing" (not scoring) skills!
Mohamad Abdul Hadi's intelligent play, Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin's pacey runs and Sarjit Singh's renowned scoops were also a drawcard for hockey lovers.
Mirnawan, or Boss to his friends, took part in three Olympic Games - the 1992 Barcelona edition, Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney 2000, when he wore the captain's armband.
Naturally he is saddened by the game's present state of affairs. A member of the Group 102 who signed a memorandum recently expressing their concerns over the future of hockey, Mirnawan and I were invited as panellists on TV1's live show called Satu Impian (One Dream) last Monday in conjunction with the ongoing Olympics in Beijing. The show is scheduled to end next week and is hosted by Zainal Abidin Rawop.
I never quite got the chance to cover hockey extensively, either with Berita Harian or Malay Mail. Hockey was a big sport covered by senior journalists such as Saodi Mat Atar and V. Ashok (Berita Harian) and Mustapha Kamaruddin (MM).
I remember any story quoting Mirnawan during his heyday would hit the BH backpages. Mirnawan was a real favourite of the sports editor then, Mohd Zian Johari, or Boss to his subordinates.
Zian said Mirnawan had an aura of his own, a charismatic figure in hockey. The fact that Zian is also from Malacca certainly played a part as well.
Before parting ways at Angkasapuri, Mirnawan told me he was into food business now. Days later I brought Intan, 'Akif and Anas to Seri Wangsa Seafood at 32, Jalan Wangsa Delima 11, Wangsa Link, Wangsa Maju. Try the seafood fried rice. It's good. Oh, Mirnawan asked me to include the phone number should I post an entry on his new found passion...03-4143 3341!
During the show, the producers arranged for a teleconference with MNCF president Haji Abu Samah Wahab and Azizul Hasni Awang from Beijing. I did ask Azizul about the prospect of taking on the world on the wooden track at Laoshan Velodrome, and he was quick to add the 250m in length was to his advantage. Let's hope he does well in the keirin on Saturday, after the team lost to the French in the team sprint today.
The following day, another ex-international appeared on the show. Syed Ahmad Abu Bakar, the Johor-born footballer whose goals earned Malaysia the ticket to the Munich Olympics in 1972, spoke frankly albeit in brief as he brought the viewers down memory lane.
When he underwent a heart bypass in 2003, the Malay Mail ran a story headlined Have a heart, FAM! That story, of course written by yours truly, incurred the wrath of the then FA of Malaysia general secretary, Datuk Dell Akbar Khan!