By Jugjet Singh
TENAGA Nasional Bhd (TNB) is a starting block which has propelled many hockey players from remote villages to the Olympic Village and to the World Cup stage.
The utility giant has also nurtured many coaches of calibre.
And TNB is still at it, generating opportunities for players and others by providing employment and financial support like a caring parent would.
To commemorate the hockey greats, TNB launched a coffee table book titled The Sticks, which is a compilation of its involvement in hockey as well as the greats who have played at the highest level.
The book was launched by Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin with TNB chief corporate officer Datuk Wira Roslan Ab Rahman on Thursday while many former and present Tenaga players graced the occasion.
From Kilat Club players in the 1970s to current national players who work with TNB and represent the nation, their stellar history, with nostalgic pictures, grace the coffee table book.
Hockey started with Kilat Club back in the 1950s, when they played in Division Two of the Selangor HA League.
It was TNB’s strength in employing hockey players, many as meter readers, and giving them much encouragement, leave and playing gear, that made the company a powerhouse to produce national players out of budding talents.
Household names in hockey have TNB to thank for, for providing them with the sprinting block from the days of grass to artificial pitches.
Nor Saiful Zaini is one of the many who are thankful to TNB. For the energy giant gave him a chance to become a three time-Olympian who competed in the 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games.
“I am what I am today because of Tenaga Nasional. When they scouted my hockey talent, I was offered a clerk’s position and now I have reached managerial level.
“And in hockey, the encouragement and support they gave me was simply amazing. I became a national skipper, three-time Olympian, played in the World Cup, Asian Games and Champions Trophy – all because of Tenaga’s undying support,” said Nor Saiful.
Nor Saiful and many of his TNB teammates are giving back to the sport by running the successful Thunderbolts programme that has made Thunderbolts a much feared power in the Junior Hockey League.
Former National Juniors coach Balbir Singh said: “To sum it up, there is nothing bad that any hockey player who belongs to the Kilat and then the TNB family can say about the company.”
Balbir, in his 70s, still conducts junior development programmes at various clubs in the Klang Valley with zest.
K. Rajan echoed Balbir’s sentiments. The 2009 Junior World Cup coach, then Thailand and now Singapore head coach, believes his fortunes changed when he was recruited by Tenaga in his youth.
“Their simple strategy of employing budding hockey players has worked wonders since the 1970s until today. I owe my career in sport to Tenaga, and I believe many others share the same feelings,” said Rajan.
From the 1950s Kilat had the Shepherdson brothers Mike and Christie, and talents like Kuldeep Singh, Jack Johnson and Harnahal Singh will never be forgotten either.
The names below speak for TNB’s hockey passion which was inscripted in the coffee table book.
Poon Fook Loke, Razak Leman, Brian Sta Maria, Foo Keat Seong, Sulaiman Saibot, M. Surenthiran, Sarjit Singh, Nor Saiful Zaini, K Embaraj, S. Sivabalan, K. Dharmaraj and Mirnawan Nawawi.
The younger generation will know Madzli Ikmar, the late Chua Boon Huat, S. Kumar, Nor Azlan Bakar, Amin Rahim, M. Kaliswaran, Faizal Shaari, Firhan Azhaari, Ramadan Rosli.
The Kilat Padang has its own history, as it was there back in 1975 that Malaysia beat the Netherlands 2-1 to qualify for the semifinals and finish fourth in the World Cup which is still the nation’s best achievement to date.