THE Razak Cup starts today in Kuantan, and the usual player-hunting and pinching is at its ugliest state, as the quality pool is not big enough to cater for all states.
And this has peeved national juniors coach K. Dharmatraj, who feels states should just go with their youth, and not recall old hands when there is not enough talent available.
“My hockey career started at the Razak Cup when I was 16 years old, thanks to the vision of my late coach Razak Leman.
“He was brave enough to take teenagers for the tour nament, and even though Malacca did not win, but the real winner turned out to be the country, as many youth from this squad were noticed, and broke into the junior squad and National B team, and eventually played for the country,” said Dharmaraj.
The timing of the Razak Cup is also incredible, as the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) fixed it right after the Asia Cup, and two weeks from now the juniors would be involved with the Sultan of Johor Cup.
“Luckily I named my 18 players for the Sultan of Johor Cup early and blocked them from playing in the Razak Cup for fear of injury and fatigue.
“It was also a move to give other players, especially youth, a chance to represent their states and looking at how intensely states are chasing for players now, it is sad that some of the teams are going to rely on players who can’t even make the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League) teams but don’t want to field youth.
“Sure, the old hands can keep the tournament running, but youth would inject hope for a better future. We need state administrators who are brave enough to field their youth side, as this is what the Razak Cup should be all about in the near future.
“Give the youngsters a break. At least the officials can then be proud of helping hockey, and can consider themselves as part of the success of the national team when they do well,” said Dharmaraj.
The Division Two, with six teams, starts today, while the Division One matches begin on Sunday.
Division One A: Terengganu, Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan; Group B: Perak, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur, Penang.
Division Two: Armed Forces, Selangor, Police, Sabah, Kedah, Perlis.