NATIONAL women's coach K. Dharmaraj has seen it all, and it is very hard to impress or surprise him.
But yesterday, he was caught off guard when told that Kuala Lumpur did not select Kirandeep Kaur Gurdip Singh for the ongoing National Under-16 hockey tournament at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
"What? Kuala Lumpur did not select Kirandeep for Under-16?" was his initial response.
For a brief flash-back, 15-year-old Kirandeep scored Kuala Lumpur's winning goal in the Under-16 final last year. KL won the title with a slim 4-3 win over Sabah.
And she played in the Women's Malaysia Hockey League, an open tournament, for UiTM this year and even impressed former women's assistant coach K. Gobinathan.
"A very talented player like her only comes out of the system once in many years and I hope she does not gets disheartened and stops playing hockey.
"I and other selectors have been noticing Kirandeep for a few years now, and after she impressed in the MHL(Women) by turning up for UiTM, Terry Walsh (Malaysian Hockey Confederation Technical Director) told me to include her in the recent four friendlies against Japan Under-21.
"Even though she is only 15, even I felt she deserves a chance but had to say 'no' because the friendlies was a platform for my other girls to fight for a slot in the Commonwealth Games squad.
"And I had to give my other players their playing time (in the four friendlies) to be fair in selection.
"She has been helping Kuala Lumpur in age-group tournaments for some time now, and I am shocked that they did not include her for the Under-16," said Dharmaraj.
KL coach A. Kannagi said that Kirandeep did not show up for selection, and that's why she was not selected.
But a check with other officials revealed that Kirandeep came three days for KL selection, under a different coach and manager, but was not called for the final selection.
"There was some confusion in KL and the selection was done in a haphazard manner by different people at different times and places. And on the day that the players were named, Kirandeep was competing in the MSSM athletics event.
"It's tragic that she was bounced along, and then unceremoniously dropped," said the official.