UNIKL aim to make an instant impact in their second Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) season as they have hired a New Zealand coach, two Kiwi players and a German to beef up their squad.
New Zealand assistant coach Darren Smith will join UniKL after the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and he is ex pected to bring along a goalkeeper and midfielder. Another midfielder from Germany, with Malaysian roots, is also being courted by the University side.
Two established Malaysian players, S. Selvaraju and Baljit Singh Charun, have also ditched Tenaga Nasional and signed up with UniKL.
“We held a postmortem after our first season and found out the progress made by junior players in the squad has not met the desired level especially in the Junior League provided the opportunity and exposure given to them
“None of the Project 2013 players in the squad received a call up to train with the national team and only a few of the non-Project 2013 players were selected to train with the Project 2013 squad,” said UniKL team manager Amir Azhar Ibrahim.
And that is why the UniKL management embarked into some drastic approaches which include increasing com petition in training, changing the coaching approach, use of latest technology, youth development program (age-group) and establishment of the “Sport Excellence Centre”.
A five-year blueprint has been developed in June and received the endorsement from top management.
“Former UniKL coach I. Vikneswaran was part of the team that developed the five-year blueprint. But after Vick neswaran left the team to explore other opportunities (he signed up with Sapura), the management has hired Darren Smith, the current New Zealand national assistant coach. He will be assisted by the current assistant coach, K. Enbaraj.”
UniKL registered six junior players for the previous MHL season, and this year a record 14 Under-19 junior players will be registered with eight being promoted from the Junior League’s Overall champions team.
“Of the 14 junior players, nine are Under-18 players who will form the spine of next year’s Junior League team. The exposure and experience they will gain from training and playing in this year’s Premier League will increase the quality of the junior player pool developed by UniKL.”
The Premier Division will start on Dec 17, while Division One on Dec 3.