ENTRIES for the men's Malaysia Hockey League Division One closed with 10 teams competing, but there was a damning complaint about players being pinched by National Juniors coach Arul Selvaraj for his club UniKL.
Old La Sallians Association of Klang (OLAK-PKT) team manager Joseph de Silva was fuming mad after a telephone conversation with Arul on Thursday, asking him to release three of his best players for UniKL.
"This is a conflict of interest as Arul is the national juniors coach as well as head coach for UniKL. How can he wear two hats and also scout for the best players in the Junior Hockey League for his club side," questioned de Silva.
De Silva, a veteran Junior Hockey League team manager sice 1995, said he turned down Arul's offer as it was not proper.
"I strongly objected to Arul, and told him it's unethical for him as a national juniors coach to scout for players for his club side. I told him my players will not play for UniKL as I will have problems later getting them back for Olak next season.
"I told him I would rather release my boys to play for UiTM, and told him to look elswhere," said De Silva.
Arul, when he was assisted to Paul Revington at the senior level, was also coaching UniKL.
However, Arul had a different version of the story: "De Silva called me asking if I'm going to select any of his Olak players for the national juniors training and I told him I have a few in mind. And then de Silva asked me if I have any clubs to recommend his players for the MHL Division One and I told him his players can try for UniKL.
"And then de Silva told me that he does not want his players to play for UniKL, but will release them to UiTM instead," said Arul.
Arul also said that even though he wears two hats, there is never a conflict of interest when he picks the best for his juniors side.
"I'm a professional, so even though I coach a club side, I will only pick the best when it comes for national duty and there is no conflict of interest between selection for my club or my country," said Arul.
Meanwhile, the women's MHL Division One will make its debut with nine teams.
Both the men's and women's MHL Division One matches start on March 16 with the final slated for May 18.
MALAYSIA Hockey League -- MEN: Division One: UiTM Lions, Bukit Jalil Sports School, Armed Forces, Sekolah Sukan Tengku Mahkota Ismail, UniKL, Nur Insafi, Terengganu, Sapura Hockey Club, Tenaga Nasional, Sukma Selangor.
WOMEN -- Division One: Terengganu, UiTM Lions, SSN Selangor, MSN Kedah, Armed Forces, Sukma KL, SSTMI Thunderbolts, Johor Baru Municipal Council, Police.