KUALA LUMPUR: National women’s hockey coach K. Dhaarmaraj has made a surprise move by calling up teenagers Kirandeep Kaur and Hasya Syahida Saifuddin to join the national team’s training camp.
Kirandeep and Hasya, who are 16 and 17-years-old respectively, attended training since Monday as part of a group of 26 players, as Dharmaraj has to make do without forward Nurul Nabihah Mansur who is pregnant.
"I have called up more younger players of late, regardless whether the player is as young as 16-years-old because the women’s hockey scene differs from the men’s,” said Dhaarmaraj.
"It is getting difficult nowadays to find young, talented players, so if I come across those with potential, I won’t think long and hard and will call them up to join the national team as trial players.
"In fact, India captain Rani Rampal who is now 23-years-old started representing her country at the 2010 World Cup when she was just 15-years-old. So if she can play on the international stage at such a young age, why can’t our own young players with talent such as Kirandeep and Hasya do the same?”
Such a scenario is nothing new for the national team, because since last year itself Dhaarmaraj has called up seven players under the age of 18 to train with the senior side.
Out of the seven players, three of them, Nurmaizatul Hanim, Syafi Sheikh Fuad and Nuramirah Syakirah Zulkifli have already played in two international championships while Nor Asfarina Isahyifika Issahidun earned her first cap during the Asia Champions Trophy in Donghae, South Korea just last month.
According to Dhaarmaraj, he first took notice of Kirandeep and Hasya’s budding talents during this year’s Malaysia Hockey League competition.
Sports Journalist with the New Straits Times since 1994.
My main beat is field hockey, so this blog will have stories that I have written for the NST, as well as hockey news from around the globe. There will be regular updates. I was also the Secretary General of the National Press Club, Malaysia for three terms (six years).