EVEN THOUGH there was a record 36-team entry for the boys, the debut of the girls Junior Hockey League is expected to see about 10 teams only.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee released groupings for the boys Division Two, which will be played on a zonal basis.
"The boys JHL will see a record entry of 36 teams, 10 in Division One and 26 in Division Two. The total prize money on offer would be RM144,000," said competitions committee chairman George Koshy.
The girls JHL entries will close on Jan 30.
"We expect fewer team in the girls JHL which is scheduled to begin after the Chinese New Year. But its a step towards the right direction to develop the women's game in the country," said Koshy.
The boys JHL was incepted in 1995, and has produced many promising players for the nation. Even though the girls JHL is 21 years too late, its still a step towards seeing the women play at a higher level than the Asian Games.
Nine venues nationwide will be utilised in the two-month long JHL.
Defending double champions SSTMI Thunderbolts lead the Division One challenge which will be played on a league format.
The other teams in Division One are SSTMI Juniors, Politeknik Malaysia, SMK Datuk Bentara Luar Johor, UniKL Young Guns, BJSS Thunderbolts, Petaling Jaya Municipal Council, Olak-PKT Tigers, Nurinsafi and SSP/MSP Thunderbolts.
At the conclusion of the league, the top two teams will advance to the final.
The 26 teams in Division Two will be divided into three groups with matches played on a zone system. North and South zones will consist of nine teams each while South zone will have eight teams.
The top two teams in each zone will advance to the second round. They will be further divided into two groups of three teams each respectively. The group winners will play in the final.
The top four teams in Division One and Division Two will play in the Junior TNB Cup which will be on a knockout system. The champions will receive RM25,000, runners-up RM20,000, third RM13,000 and fourth RM10,000.
“MHC will provide a grant of RM3,000 to each team. We have also increased the total prize money by RM15,500 which is more by 10 per cent compared to last year's RM128,500,” said George.
He added that Sabah team will be based in Johor Bahru throughout the duration of the tournament with the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium as their home venue.
DIVISION Two: Group A: MSSP/PHP Perlis Young Lion Jr, MSN/PHP Perlis Young Lion, SM Agama (Matri) Perlis, MSSD Larut Matang Selama, MSS Kedah, Penang MSSPP, KHA Kedah Juniors, Seratas and MCKK.
Group B: Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Star), Felda Juniors, Anderson Thunderbolt, MSNPK/ILHC, Anderson PHA, Bukit Jalil Sports School Juniors, MSSWPKL and MISCF-UFL.
Group C: Tunku Besar Secondary School Tampin, Malacca High School-Hercules, Young Hurricanes, SMK Datuk Taha, Sekolah Sukan Malaysia Sabah, MSNT/PHT, Academi Hoki Pahang, Sekolah Dato Bentara Luar Jr and SM Sains Johor.
PRIZE MONEY: Division One - Champion: RM18,000; runner-up: RM13,000; Third: RM10,000; Fourth: RM8,000.
Division Two - Champion: RM7,000; runner-up: RM4,000; third: RM3,000; fourth: RM2,000.
Junior TNB Cup - Champion: RM25,000; runner-up: RM20,000; third: RM13,000; fourth: RM10,000.