KUALA KUMPUR: Former national juniors coach K. Dharmaraj believes our Youth Olympics Hockey 5s gold medal should prompt more funding from the government, for a medal chance in the 2021 Junior World Cup.
The Malaysian boys’ Under-18 squad upset the odds to enter the final in Buenos Aires, and then beat India 4-2 with a scintillating and convincing display.
"The fact that India, Australia and Argentina fielded their best Under-18 players for the Youth Olympics is a recognition for the development of our youngsters over the years.
"Nobody should belittle their achievement, and right now, the government via the National Sports Council should offer more funding towards junior development.
"These boys, as well as our Sultan of Johor Cup team, need more international exposure to not only qualify for the Junior World Cup, but also go for a medal," said Dharmaraj who now coaches the national women's squad.
Under Dharmaraj, the Malaysian junior boys ended fourth in the 2013 Junior World Cup, and the coach sees great potential in the present batch as well.
"I have been observing these boys grow up since some were 15 years old and playing in the Junior Hockey League as well as other tournaments in the country.
"They have great speed and goal scoring abilities, which is not only important in hockey 5s, but field hockey as well.
"India, Malaysia and Australia sent their best Under-18 players for the Youth Olympics even though it clashed with the SOJC. This shows that four teams (including Argentina) had class players in the Youth Olympics and we beat them all to the gold."
Argentina had beaten Malaysia 4-2 in Group A, while India had beaten Argentina 3-1 in the semi-finals.
Defending champions Australia were sent packing by Zambia 6-4 in the quarter-finals, while Malaysia hammered Zambia 7-4 in the semi-finals.
"The above results show that it was not an esay path for Malaysia to enter the final, as even Zambia proved the formbook wrong by beating defending champios Australia.
"Everybody should be proud of Malaysia's achievement, and do not point fingers at the other weak teams in the tournament to belittle this historic gold medal."
Sports Ministed Syed Saddiq Syed Rahman congratulated the boys on twitter: "Malaysia created history once more in the Youth Olympics!
Tahniah kepada (Congratulations to) #TeamMalaysia yang berjaya menundukkan India (who beat India). Kamu semua inspirasi kita! (You guys are our inspiration!).