Monday, March 30, 2009

PFL 2009 (Div 2) Review: Coach Jason's 300

This year's division 2 campaign has been a roller coaster ride for everyone in the team. Many questions had been posed as to what the outcome would be. It was a mixture of an experienced division 1 chipsmore, a decently skilled player who just "curved" his stick, a hyperactive duo of small cikus, a group of powerpuff girls and a keeper that had yet to be tested.

We started the campaign pretty slow. Untested. Due to logistics and time constraints, we couldn't really test the whole team as in playing as it is. Deservingly, we lost to Dalat in our first game.

As the league progressed, we seemed to show some promise as one of the medal candidates. People began to write good things about us after winning against one of the top teams in Penang, Contact Bullets. The 3-0 win was a sweet one. Playing against a very tactical and proper team, I still think we were lucky to put it off against them. Michael was basically on form that day. His curve was just curvy enough to bag the goals.

Frontliners has always been a moody team. We are very temparamental, as our morale changes like the weather all the time. On our good days we can play really well. On our bad days, we can really play as though we never have touched a stick before. The win against Griffins was a lucky and narrow win. Although we won, we felt as though we lost. I also personally learned that I as a coach need to gamble at times. Relying on important players like Michael and Megan can be a little too predictable and obvious, leaving the rest of the players untested.

Quickly enough, we learned fast from our previous shortcomings and improvised from our previous matches. The game against Firebrands marked a beginning of a new format for 300. If I had to pick our best game, it would be the one against Phoenix. Phoenix were the best team in division 2. 300 made a lot of changes. There were at least 4 line-ups played against Phoenix. Each change created a different tempo to the game. Changing the mood of the gameplay at every change.

That game displayed creativity in the usage of line-ups as we learned to be flexible and daring with our line-ups. The consequence? An unpredictable and powered up 300 team which played like the Spartans. The teamplay was awesome. There were a lot of chances and good teamwork between the forwards and the centre. Defence was solid to the max. However, because of some silly mistake, we let in a silly goal due to our lack of concentration. And that silly goal cost the whole team to fall as we had shown that we are mentally weak when facing pressure in tournaments.

If 300 want to rise up, they must learn to keep their heads in the game and stay focused, no matter the results. That was the only disappointing thing in the last game.

The outcome of the league: all of us gained a lot of experience. Stars were born. Some shy people finally got to shine and show their true colors, to my amazement. I was very impressed with the team overall. This year's campaign was definitely much better than the previous year's :)

Youthwave is coming up. Penang League is over, now we look forward to Youthwave and the upcoming Division 1 in June.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"So, how does that make you feel?"

Words of psychiatrists who earn mega bucks an hour just listening to people and giving obvious advice. It can only happen on TV.

What a way to fill the blog. Since PBSM reclaimed their hall, there was no training this week and so, no report. Fret not; I'll be talking about my feelings! (Isn't that what blogs are for now?) Yes, the many feelings and emotions that were pouring in during the final match of this year's PFL Div. 2.

Text message said to be there by 7.45pm. And since I've been living in Malaysia for almost all my life, let's just say I arrived later than 11.45 GMT+8. First thing I noticed was the huge crowd-- huge for a Div. 2 game standard and definitely noisier. So why was I there?

Oh, right, if results go our way we get a medal. One glance at the scoreboard left a sunken feeling at the pit of my stomach. Medal hopes fading away faster. Probably already vanished.

Half time whistle meant I could go find a seat. Front row next to a few fellow Frontliners and one of them was way more upset than I was. (I wasn't upset, just had that sunken feeling). The person probably knew how to let feelings be known unlike me who'd just bottle it up and wait until it goes off like a time bomb or when a blog post like this comes along.

Fast forward and I found myself updating an ex-Frontliner, who reluctantly had to balik kampung over the holidays, on the scores. It's not easy you know! Sometimes after I've sent one text I'd have to send another one on the next goal a few seconds later.

Prize giving somehow felt less grand than last year. And we all know how the results went. Two weeks ago we had a chance but I have no regrets. No "What if I had" or "I wish I didn't". It was all forgotten as I saw the medals being given away. So why was I there again?

This time, I had no idea. All I knew was that Ugly Betty had already started on TV. Whether it was sadness, anger or happiness that was filling me I couldn't tell.

Oh wait! I know. It's confusion.

Or maybe I forgot how I felt.

Nope, pretty sure I'm still confused.

From whipping boys (and girls) to one time medal contenders, I do believe we can go that extra mile next year and hopefully, I'll have better emotions then. For now, I was just happy I arrived back home in time to catch the last half hour of Ugly Betty.

*This post was written by 300 defender, Sonia, on all her weird feelings inside when watching the last match of Penang League 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2009

300 G5: Pictures

The boards extra heavy today, lady?

Coach Jason taking a break from all the seriousness.

Julian showing Coach Jason the right way to do it.

Tristan definitely not afraid to get stuck in today!

[Oops, wrong person to pass to!]

Oh, Megan, the hair!

Verina savoring her rare excursion into the court.

Tiny Captain Michael.

Yung Ming of Phoenix taking a breather.

Coach Jason pleased with 300's first-half display.

"Still time? Then pray."

How long can you hold out now, 300?

Sonia keeping tight shackles on her man.

Julian having a go.

Megan whacked in the face.

Breakthrough for Phoenix with six minutes left on the clock.

Crushed 300 cannot believe what just happened.

Coach Jason issuing a rallying call during timeout.

Yellow Captain leaving Black Captain in his wake.

Samuel of Phoenix overcome with fierce joy, 2-0 to Phoenix.

A demoralized 300 out there.

300 hit rock-bottom when Phoenix put the final nail in their coffin.

300 wishing for the game to be done with already.

The much anticipated battle of the captains that turned out to be a low-key affair. Off day, maybe?

Tradition demands it... although you can bet that some in yellow would love to kick tradition for once.

"Well, lads... It's a hard one to take as I felt we were the better team..."Sound familiar, Man Yoo fans?

The long, contemplative faces of deep thinkers.

And for the best... the largest picture, reserved for Tania who played her last game for Frontliners 300 that day.

300 G5: For Want Of A Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe the horse was lost
For want of a horse the rider was lost
For want of a rider the battle was lost
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail

Frontliners 300 had every reason to end Penang League and walk out with their heads held high after their best performance ever.

It was as a team that 300 marched into the court that Saturday, it was as a team that they matched Phoenix stick for stick, and it was as a team that they crumbled and lost.

And how galling it must be for some, to be so close and yet so far to end up empty handed.

But that Saturday, they made it known that Frontliners 300 was not a one-man team.

In the first half, it was not Michael but Tristan who saw most of the ball. After being ticked off last week by Coach Jason for not running enough, he put in the game of his life, and should have capitalized on slack marking to stick in a few goals.

It was a miraculously organized 300 team that Phoenix were running into, and there was no way past them that half.

0-0 up to the break.

Play got rougher in the second half as Phoenix were looking for ways to get past a resilient 300. Temperatures rose, and some players were simmering up to boiling point.

Yet still the clocked ticked on, and somehow, somehow... could it happen?

But in the final six minutes, all it took was a moment of madness and burning tempers, and everything was shattered.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail, the battle was lost.

3-0 to Phoenix; an undeserved and bitter loss in 300's heroic final stand.

Friday, March 13, 2009

300 G4: Pictures

Frontliners 1-1 Firebrands. (not for long)

A very nonchalant Daniel Tan after scoring his second goal.

Kenneth powering his way past.

Daniel Tan stepping up to the spot.

Referees getting a tongue lashing?

A frustrated Captain Michael during half time.

Less-than-sexy Lin Ken taking on the role of temporary coach for Firebrands.

Michael's turn to shout, as Coach Jason lost his voice.

A bemused June sitting out her second consecutive bench penalty.

Captain Michael unleashing yet another shot.

Anxious Firebrands.

Freehit that resulted in a penalty for 300.

Penalty save by Bryan on Michael's Unihoc Curve 1.5

Megan's flying new hairstyle.

A visibly relieved Michael after scoring the equalizer yet again.

Timeout called by Coach Jason.

Even the bench is cheering 300 on for one more goal.

Julian finding himself blocked out by the ever-present James.

...every reason to be proud of your next-door neighbours from FGA.

Each team grateful for their ever-present supporters.

Team talk for the disappointed Frontliners.

A croaking Coach Jason talking things over.

Contrasting figures: A disappointed Soon Khai and a jubilant Firebrands.

Spartans whether win, draw, or lose.