TUNKU Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) rattled Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) to the bone, when both their senior and juniors teams won by 5-1 margins in the first weekend of the Milo-Junior Hockey League.
SSTMI, formerly known as Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS), proved that they are steadily improving while their counter-parts in the City have had their backs against the wall for the last three years.
BJSS have the distinction of winning seven consecutive League titles from 2003 to 2009, after which BPSS Thun derbolts and UniKL took over for the last two seasons.
They also have six Overall titles under the belt, but that too slipped out of their fingers and went to UniKL in 2010, and Thunderbolts last year.
A coach, who declined to be named, said hockey should be taken out of both the sports schools as clubs and dedicated teachers in schools have started to produce more quality players.
“I see a trend where the best players are now in premier hockey playing schools or with clubs bent on doing de velopment work.
“That is why parents have started to shun from sending their children to BJSS and prefer to have them closer to home in their own states,” said the coach.
However, longtime BJSS coach S. Prakash disagrees when asked if the school is being shunned by parents, leaving only third-grade players in their charge.
“I totally disagree with talk that parents are reluctant to send their children to play hockey in BJSS and that is why the best in the country is not with us.
“We have over 50 hockey players in BJSS, but the oldest are only in Form Five while our pre-university boys have been pinched by other clubs who have the money to pay them handsomely.
“And that is why our young players are finding it hard to compete against older boys in clubs and other schools,” said Prakash.
Prakash has seen better days when his side won con secutive doubles in the JHL, but is now assigned to the BJSS Juniors while Lokman Yahaya coaches the BJSS Seniors.
SSTMI are fielding Thunderbolts and Juniors, and ba sically the sports school, based down at the tip of Johor, has a better crop of players than the current BJSS enrolment.
At the moment, after the dust settled in the first weekend, it is evident that Thunderbolts and UniKL will again be the two teams tipped to fight for the League and Overall titles.
Meanwhile, the time for matches at Alor Star, Sungai Petani, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Taman Daya, Seremban and USM has been changed to 4pm due to adverse weather conditions of late.
These venues do not have floodlight facilities or have the facilities but are too expensive for the home teams to bear the cost.