Thursday, March 15, 2012

Arul Selvaraj's Irish calling..

HE has been in Ireland for five years, and holds three jobs, one of which does not pay much, but still, Arul Selvaraj is a happy and contended man.
The former Malaysian international's first love is hockey, so he teaches the sport at a local school, is the caretaker for the Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club and assistant coach to the Ireland national men's team.
There is never a moment in his daily routine when he is far away from the hockey field, as even his house is located at the clubhouse, and he is just a door away from the two artificial pitches.
"It is not easy as I have to juggle three jobs, but hockey is what I love most and so there is never a dull moment in my daily routine," said Arul after Ireland were held to a 1-1 draw by South Korea.
The Rovers HC men's side play in the Irish Hockey League and the women's team compete in the Leinster Senior League Division 1.
But surprisingly, the school and club jobs are the ones that put bread on his table, while being the Ireland assistant coach does not pay much.
"Hockey is certainly a minority sport here as rugby and Gaelic games (Gaelic football, hurling, handball and rounders) are the more preferred choice and is where the money is.
"The Malaysian hockey players and coaches are certainly very lucky because the MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) and the NSC (National Sports Council) gives them a solid backing and money is never a problem.
"Here in Ireland, the players have to fork out much of the money, and if you are selected to the national side, you have to pay Euro 280 to confirm your spot," said Arul.
"Parents and clubs are the ones who are keeping the sport alive here, and if we qualify for the Olympics for the first time (in 104 years) I think, only then, will the sport be recognised here."
The newspapers and television in Ireland only give hockey a passing glance, and the coverage has been anything but poor.
And that is why the Irish players and their Malaysian assistant coach as well as chief coach, South African Paul Revington, are eager to prove a point by snatching the Qualifier gold.