LAUNCHED and initiated by Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah in December 2010, the 1Mas Hockey Programme is now moving from grassroots into an elite phase.
As the end target is to produce players who will win the first Asian Games gold medal for their country.
Currently, there are about 1,500 under-16 boys and girls who are training at 14 centres nationwide and, it will soon move from its big base to identifying the best and taking them to a higher level.
1Mas Hockey Programme steering committee deputy chairman Datuk R. Yogeswaran said yesterday, even though some of the centres are not as active as they would like them to be, and the participation of other than Malays are lacking, work is being done to remedy this areas.
“After almost three years some of the centres have become less active as the number of players dwindled and we are also having some problems attracting the Chinese, Indians, Punjabis and other races to our programme.
“What we have done is to hit these centres where it hurt most by cutting their allocation until their report card shows better marks.
“The name of the programme itself suggests that we welcome all races, but to date the participation of the Malays has been great, but the other races shy away,” said Yo geswaran.
And the programme coordinators in some states like Penang have taken their own initiative to move into Tamil schools to get a bigger pool.
“Some of the states like Malacca, Johor and Penang have started their own initiatives to attract other races and we welcome this initiative as we want the participation of all races.
“And now, from a wide base, we have started programmes like goalkeepers centralised training with professional coaches as well as other camps to bring the best players from around the country to play and train under coaches who can take them to a higher level,” said Yogeswaran.
Funded by the government money is not a problem for this unique programme, which aims to have a standard national training curriculum so that when players are ready to knock on the various national age-group teams, they will have the same style of play.
The 1Mas under-16 team tasted their first success when they won the FHE Cup held in Perth, Australia in 2011, and then silver this year.
And now, they have even been entrusted to train and field a team in the Four-Nation in Mannheim, Germany. Malaysia’s under-16 side won silver medal in 2010 when they lost to Germany but they did beat Holland and Belgium then.
But over the last two editions, haphazard selection saw them getting whipped by the European sides.
“We have been entrusted to train the next side to Mannheim, and after 50 years on the job, I can safely say that I have spotted many interesting talent in this 1Mas elite side and we will have a strong side for the Germany Four-Nation next year,” said Yogeswaran.