ARMED Forces were a feared team in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) a few decades ago, and are slowly working their way up to return to top-flight in a few years time.
Last season the Army men finished second in Division One, behind UiTM, and both the teams have gained promotion to the Premier Division.
The other teams in the Premier Division are Universiti KL, Maybank, Tenaga Nasional, Sapura, KL Hockey Club and Nur Insafi.
This year, there is more good news for the achievers, as the Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) has increased the total prize money from RM260,000 to RM340,000.
Now, the double champions in Premier and TNB Cup stand to earn RM120,000 while previously it was RM90,000.
“The Armed Forces is not ready to claim prize money yet, but I feel we are good enough to challenge for a spot in the quarter-finals (TNB Cup),” said Armed Forces coach K. Rajan.
The top-six teams in Premier Division and the top-two in Division One will play in the knock-out TNB Cup.
According to Rajan, his charges are still young but en ergetic: “We have bee training since July and there were more than 60 players then. Now, I have trimmed to squad to two teams who will play in the Premier as well as the Division One tournament.”
Half the Premier Division team is below 23-years-old: “They are slowly improving and the plan is to take the Armed Forces back to its glory days in two or three years time.” And the fact that there will not be any national players, or imports, will make it even harder for the Army men to win matches but they are hoping for a few upsets.
The Premier Division will now offer a prize money of RM60,000, RM40,000 and RM30,000. Last season it was RM30,000, RM20,000 and RM15,00.
The Division One offers RM30,000, RM20,000 and RM10,000. Previously it was RM20,000, RM15,000 and RM10,000.
The TNB Cup prize money remains at RM60,000, RM40,000, RM30,000 and RM20,000.
The Premier Division will start on Dec 17, while Division One on Dec 3 with 12 teams expected to play in a round-robin format.