Proficiency is his keyword

S. THYAGARAJAN

AS a senior administrator with vast experience in organising tournaments, like the Azlan Shah Cup, Asia Cup and other numerous junior level tournaments, the soft-spoken, unobtrusive S.Satgunam, takes on the mantle as the Organising Secretary of the 2002 World Cup at Kuala Lumpur. Extremely affable and known for his patience, perseverance and perspicacity, Satgunam has always been identified as an administrator for whom proficiency is the keyword in any endeavour.

VINO JOHN

In an exclusive interview to The Sportstar, Satgunam spoke about the World Cup 2002 and matters relating to it. Excerpts:

Question: How different do you think, the 2002 edition will be compared to 1975? Are you in a position to recall the salient features of the 1975 venture?

Answer: My prediction is this will be grander and bigger in all aspects of the game. While the 1975 championship was played on grass the 2002 World Cup will be played on artificial surface, which undoubtedly is expected to see faster and more exciting matches. I was then a very keen fan of hockey and was fortunate to witness some of the matches where Malaysia was involved. It was electrifying and the crowd was indeed fantastic.

The cost factor prohibits many units from bidding for major events these days. How much inputs will MHF be able to mobilise for the venture?

While it is true that the cost factor for the bid was high it was nevertheless done with the intention of promoting and developing the game in the country. Our fine performance in the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998 was the contributing factor.

Who are your principal sponsors, and what is the total budget for the event?

We will not be able to disclose this required info as we have not sealed the deal with a couple of sponsors. However, the cost to host this prestigious event is estimated to be five million Malaysian dollars.

How well has MHF structured its committees to look after the conduct of such a big event as the World Cup? Do you think that the experience gained by organising various other events in KL, Ipoh and Penang will help you?

With our vast experience having organised major hockey events in the past and an aggressive publicity campaign, we are confident that the World Cup will be organised well.

Everyone these days talks about security. Even the FIH President, emphasised this point during her last visit to KL. How do you propose to tackle this vital area with the local government and security agencies?

First and foremost let me emphasise that we had never experienced any security problem when hosting international events in the past. What actually transpired during the Champions Challenge was that some over zealous spectators went into the pitch after the final whistle to congratulate the Indian team. There was no untoward incident though. We will, however, not remain complacent during the coming World Cup. The World Cup is a major event and we will ensure that priority for security will be accorded accordingly with the assistance from the government.

Please throw some light on the media facilities, which are always of high standard in Malaysia. What additional facilities do you propose this time?

Malaysia had accorded good media facilities in the past. Undoubtedly we will do the same again. The need to extend excellent media facilities will be our priority.

With 16 teams in the fray for the first time, problems related to logistics call for a different approach. How do you propose to meet these requirements?

While it is true that there will be 16 teams for the first time in the World Cup, it must be realised that the basics remain the same. What's needed is additional facilities for the team's requirement and in this respect we are confident it can be achieved.

Have you at any point of time felt the extra pressure from FIH to accommodate more than necessary number of officials for the event?

The answer is definitely no. There was never any pressure.

What in your estimate will be the public response and how well have you orchestrated the demand and supply of tickets?

Admittedly the sale of tickets has been sluggish. However, we are confident of packed stadiums, when the time comes.