Monday, September 29, 2008

Ernst and Young doubly sure

TOUGH: Last Season's Malaysia Hockey League action.

ERNST and Young have set their sights on a Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) double this season, and they look good for it.
League champions Ernst and Young, who evolved from Andersen Sports Club in 2003, have yet to win the Overall title, as they ended up bridesmaids from 2004 to 2007.
With 12 current national players in their stable, it looks like good sailing for them, as they only have to knock Sapura and Tenaga, both with a healthy dose of former national players, out of contention.
“The team looks good on paper, and the management has set a target of lifting both titles, as it is about time we make an impact in the MHL,” said Ernst & Young coach K. Dhar maraj.
Their training schedule was a little disrupted, because the 12 national players trained with coach Sarjit Singh, and left for the Hamburg Masters yesterday.
The national team will play in the International Invitational on Oct 3-5 against Olympic champions Germany, Pakistan and Belgium.
“Initially, I only had five players to train, and then six more joined when they were dropped from national training. Our preparations were a little disrupted, but the 12 are pro fessionals, and should be able to click when the MHL starts,” said Dharmaraj.
Division One will start on Oct 10, while Division Two on Oct 17.
There are six teams in Division One and nine in Division Two. The top-two teams in Division Two will join the six in Division One for the knock-out quarterfinals.
Division One: Sapura, Ernst and Young, Maybank, Tenaga Nasional, National Juniors, Nur Insafi.
Division Two: Border Forces Club, Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah of Putrajaya, Royal Malay Regiment (RMR), Jurutera Letrik Jentera (JLJ), Dolphins, Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Young Nabil gets a break

Germany's Matthias Witthaus (L) is challenged by Malaysia's Nabil Fiqri Noor during their Hockey Champions Trophy match in Kuala Lumpur December 6, 2007.

STRIKER Tunku Ahmad Tajuddin’s misfortune turned into Nabil Fiqri’s fortune in the Hanburg Masters in Germany on Oct 3-5.
Tunku Ahmad fractured is finger while playing for his club Hilversum HC Amsterdam in the Dutch League last week, and has been ruled out for at least three weeks.
And coach Sarjit Singh replaced the striker with youngster Nabil for the International Invitational which will feature Olympic champions Germany, Pakistan and Belgium.
“I was told by his club management that their doctor said he will have to rest for at least three weeks. Tunku Ahmad and Jivan Mohan (who is also playing in Holland) were supposed to join us for the Hamburg Masters.
“But it is not a big problem, as I will get to try out Nabil and see how he fares in the Invitational,” said Sarjit.
Other than Jivan, three others who are playing overseas will also re-group in Germany for the tournament.
Chua Boon Huat is playing in New Zealand while S. Selvaraju and Baljit Singh are playing in the German League.
The national team will leave today, and there will be a friendly with a club-side before taking on three teams who played in the Beijing Olympics.
MALAYSIA -- Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Khairulnizam Ibrahim; Madzli Ikmar, Megat Azrafiq, Baljit Singh Sarjab Singh, Sallehin Ghani, Baljit Singh Charun Singh, Amin Rahim, Kelvinder Singh.
Sukri Mutalib, Sharun Nabil, Jivan Mohan, Azlan Misron, Razie Rahim, Chua Boon Huat, S. Selvaraju, Nabil Fiqri, Ismail Abu.
HAMBURG MASTERS FIXTURES — Oct 3: Pakistan v Belgium, Malaysia v Germany.
Oct 4: Malaysia v Pakistan, Belgium v Germany.
Oct 5: Belgium v Malaysia, Pakistan v Germany.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blooding National Juniors

THE National Juniors are shaping up well for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), where coach K. Rajan will test his probable 2009 Junior World Cup charges.
The Division One will start on Oct 17, while the Division Two on Oct 10. The National Juniors will play as an outfit in the elite division, where the coach hopes to blood his players in the run-up to the Junior World Cup.
“The boys have been training during the fasting month, and their progress has been good. We have played as a team in the Razak Cup, and the MHL will be a crucial training ground for the (Junior) World Cup,” said Rajan.
The juniors will have their hands full playing against Ernst & Young, Sapura and Tenaga -- teams which have the majority of current and former national players.
“I have been working on their fitness, and will try out numerous tactics and our penalty corner variations in the MHL. It will be a good exposure for my boys to play against the best seniors in the country,” said Rajan.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) com petitions committee have decided that the MHL will be played on home-and-away format for Division One matches.
League champions Ernst and Young had proposed that teams play each other three times in the preliminary stage but lack of time did not permit it.
There will be three breaks during the MHL, to accom modate the Asia Champion Clubs tournament from Nov 14- 16, Pesta Penang from Nov 28-30 and the Asean University Games from Dec 17-21.
Six teams from Division One and two from Division Two will qualify for the knock-out quarter-finals.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Like a virgin, for the very first time...

AS sophomore midfielder Daneen Zug passed the ball to teammate Jessica Longstreth Wednesday against Princeton, a spray of water came up from the field when her stick slid across the surface.

However, it hadn't rained in State College in several days.

The Penn State field hockey team plays on an Astroturf field, which is an artificial or synthetic turf that is water-based. Before every game, and often during halftime, the maintenance crew at AstroTurf Field turns on two giant water hoses to soak down the field before the team competes on it.

Penn State coach Char Morett said watering the field helps athletes with their footing because the surface is spongy, meaning it will give and they won't get stuck in the turf. She also said the water helps prevent the ball from skipping, making all passes possible on the field.

"It sorta gives you the best of both worlds," Morett said. "You can do good, hard passes if that's what you're looking for, or you can pace the ball down the field because it's absorbing a little bit of water. This field allows you to do both because of the water."

The Nittany Lions play on the highest quality of Astroturf available to athletics, a Grade A turf or a regulation water-based turf. This is the only type of surface major field hockey events can be played on, such as the NCAA tournament and international matches.

Since the ball is usually on the ground in field hockey games, a smooth surface is required to keep the ball rolling. On a grass or field turf surface (which contains rubber pellets), the ball will get caught up in divots making the players come over the top of it when they try to make a pass. The smoothness of the turf accelerates the pace of the game as well.

"It's a lot faster," freshman midfielder Longstreth said. "Your stick moves a lot easier meaning you can hit balls quicker."

For the majority of the Penn State team, the first turf field they saw was at the collegiate level. Junior midfielder Amy Bonenberger said unless you played on a club team or your high school team made it to the playoffs, you played on a grass field. She said some fields she played on at the high school level were terrible, sometimes even in pastures full of weeds and dirt.

Morett said another advantage of playing on an Astroturf field is the team sees less injuries than they would playing on a more uneven surface. Since there are no divots, ankle rolls and torn ACLs are rarely seen.

However, the Lions said taking a fall is not as easy on turf as it is on grass. Bonenberger said when she or a teammate gets up from falling, it is not unlikely to find turf burns which are similar to rug burns. She said the burns sometimes sting, and the trainers have a special cream they put on the athletes' wounds before they bandage them up.

"Me and one other player have to wear knee pads on our knees because our turf burns keep reopening," Bonenberger said. "You can't play if you're bleeding, so we have to cover up our burns so we can still play."

The Lions aren't the only ones who are impressed with AstroTurf Field. Bob Hudzik, the Director of Outdoor Facilities, enjoys the little maintenance the field requires.

He said his department only needs to paint the field hockey lines once or twice a year, monitor the irrigation system and sweep off the field with a sweeper device on occasion.

In its fourth year of use, AstroTurf Field is "as true as you get," Morett said. In the future, she hopes to see improvements in the landscaping around the stadium, but she knows that will come with time.

"I am just grateful Penn State gave us the finances to get this high quality of surface to use," Morett said. "I mean, pros come in and they go, 'This is a gorgeous field, this is a great field.' "

Hashim will defend post

WHILE many aspirants and incumbents are keeping the cards close to their chests, Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Sgt Hashim Yusoff declared yesterday that he will seek re-election, even if he gets only one nom ination.
The MHF elections will be held on Nov 1, with the nominations opening on Oct 3 and closing on Oct 25.
So far, president Tan Sri Admiral (rtd) Anwar Mohd Nor and deputy-president Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar have said they will seek re-election. But they have come to an agree ment wheres the person that gets the highest nomination for the president’s post, will become the next president.
But there might be a spanner in their plans, as Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad is also said to be keen, but has yet to make a stand.
“I will seek re-election (for the secretary’s post) even if I only get one nomination. The state delegates know who has worked and who has not for the past season, and I am sure they will make a right choice when nominating, and then marking the ballot papers,” said Hashim.
Hashim will be seeking his second term, after he toppled previous secretary T. Paramalingam in a straight fight in the last elections.
“I have sent out nomination papers to states, as the festive holidays are fast approaching and the standard procedure is for states to hold a meeting and name their candidates.
“And I hope states will check with the candidates before naming them, as nominating someone who does not want to stand for election will be a waste of time,” said Hashim.
And those who are nominated, but do not want to stand for elections, must withdraw before Oct 29, as MHF needs time to prepare ballot papers.
The states are abuzz with many aspirants and incumbents coming out with their choice of names for the MHF ‘cabinet’, and secret meetings and phone calls have already started, even though it is still a long way to the elections.
“I will be the least surprised if some states name chal lengers to the top two positions, or the vice-presidents.
“We practice democracy at the MHF, and our elections have always been fair to those who have put in the hours, or those who can come out with a sound manifesto,” said Hashim.
There are six vice-president’s posts in the MHF, with four up for elections, while Sabah and Sarawak get a choice to name theirs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ranjit ready to battle Tunku Majid

By K. Kandiah

THE Penang State Hockey Association (PSHA) has called on the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to address the issues at hand and not to sweep it under the carpet.
A fuming PSHA secretary Ranjit Singh said the one-man show and the dictatorship in MHF should be put to rest immediately or else the sport, where Malaysia was once the fourth best in the world, would go down the drain.
During Saturday's council meeting Ranjit, via a letter, wanted to know as to who had approved the 2007 Champions Trophy and who had agreed to cater the food cost which totaled RM47,000 for the 10-day tournament.
The outspoken PSHA secretary also questioned as to why the finance committee was not informed that participating teams were offered free food and lodging for the Champions trophy.
Ranjit claimed that the MHF ended up burdened with a RM1.5 million bill.
MHF became the first and only country to have offered free food and lodging to participating teams in the history of the Champions Trophy tournament, which was a fatal mistake.
MHF deputy president Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar was furious after the meeting and had said that he would instruct his lawyers to sue Ranjit, who is also MHF council member, for deformation.
Apparently, Tunku Majid had also said that he was the son of a State Ruler and that he does not tolerate all these.
Ranjit said: "with due respect to the Johor Sultan and the royalty, anyone who chose to associate with NGO's or sports organisations should not only be prepared to work but should also be prepared to accept criticism.
"If Tunku Majid cannot tolerate this, then it was best that he remained at his palace and not disrupt hockey".
He said what PSHA did was to highlight the abuse of the MHF funds and questioned the rational behind the single person who approved it.
"PSHA is still waiting for answers for the Champions Trophy fiasco.
"PSHA will go all out to make sure that Tunku Majid does not win any posts at the MHF, directly or indirectly.
"PSHA is doing this to save hockey in the country," said Ranjit who had decided to take the `bull by its horns'.
Meanwhile, PSHA deputy president Datuk Mary Ritchie told Timesport that Ranjit had briefed her on the Sept 20 MHF council meeting and would also brief the PSHA council during its meeting.
She also said that she was aware of Tunku Majid's threat to sue him.
Mary, dubbed the `Iron Lady of Hockey', said PSHA would decide the next course of action, including counter suing.

Tengku Abdullah open for nominations

By T.N. Alagesh

TENGKU Abdullah Sultan Ahmad (pic), in denying that he is a candidate for the post of Malaysian Hockey Federation president, has not ruled out accepting nominations.
The former FA of Malaysia deputy president, responding to a newspaper report, said he had been contacted by an individual who wanted to know whether Tengku Abdullah was interested in the post.
Tengku Abdullah’s reply was that he wanted to know more about MHF before making a decision.
“Other than the individual contacting me, I have not spoken to anyone about going for the post of MHF president,” said Tengku Abdullah in Kuantan late on Wednesday.
“However, if there are some who feel that I can be considered for the post, I suggest they meet me.
“I will then decide about it. However, I must have the support and also the views from others before making such a move.
“The nomination date is still a long way away. I may decide when it gets closer.”
Nominations open on Oct 3 and close on Oct 25 with election on Nov 1.
The same newspaper report also quoted MHF president Admiral (R) Tan Sri Anwar Mohd Nor and his deputy Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar as saying they would not contest the president’s post if Tengku Abdullah goes for it.
Tengku Abdullah said he does want to be seen as interfering in MHF’s affairs.
“The leadership should be chosen through a democratic process so no one needs to fight for the president’s post.
“If one feels he is capable of leading the association, then he should step forward and offer himself to take the lead.”
Tengku Abdullah said his interest in hockey is due to its potential.
“It is a popular sport and it has the potential to reach a higher level on the international stage.”
With Tengku Abdullah sending confusing signals and Anwar and Tunku Majid having an agreement whereby the candidate with the highest number of nominations winning the president’s post uncontested, the coming weeks promise to be interesting.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Azmi ready for Deputy President battle

TWO-term Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) vice-president Nur Azmi Ahmad is looking to upgrade himself to deputy president during the biennial general meeting on Nov 1.
Nominations will open on Oct 3 and close on Oct 25.
“I have made up my mind, and after calling several state affiliates, I have received positive feedback, and will stand for the deputy president’s post,” said Azmi.
The current deputy president is Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar, whileTan Sri Admiral (R) Anwar Mohd Nor is the president.
Both agreed after Saturday’s council meeting that the candidate who gets the most number of nominations will become the next president, so Azmi will only know who he is challenging when nominations close.
“I don’t mind standing against Anwar or Tunku Majid, as I feel the time is ripe for a change,” added Azmi.
“I have noticed that in the last two years, many decisions were made by individuals and the council was only briefed later. This is not the way to run an association, and if I am elected, I will not allow this to happen.”
During Saturday’s council meeting, Penang HA secretary Ranjit Singh, inquired through a letter, who had approved the 2007 Champions Trophy, and who had agreed to cater for the food the cost of which totaled RM47,000 for the 10-day tournament.
Ranjit also questioned why the finance committee was not informed earlier that teams were offered free food and lodging for the Champions Trophy, and that the MHF ended up saddled with a RM1.5 million bill.
“There are many unanswered questions as the council was only briefed after decisions were made. That is wrong procedure, and will be among the things I will change if elected,” said Azmi.
Azmi had been a silent council member for this season because, even though he was the vice-president who received the most number of votes in the last elections, he was only handed the Welfare Committee.
“I did my part to help players in need, but I was not given anything else to do. That is why I stayed out of the limelight. Another reason I was out of MHF most of the time was because I could not stand the intense politicking which took place at every meeting.
“I am tired of all this, and will listen to the states before making any decision because they are the biggest assets.” Azmi played hockey for Maybank in the Malaysia Hockey League and has been an active Malacca HA and MHF member for many years.
Nomination day is still some time away but already two camps have started campaigning and there is also talk about asking a prominent person to challenge the president’s post.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The best for Hamburg Masters

MALAYSIA have selected their best, and coach Sarjit Singh (pic) expects results in the Hamburg Masters in Germany on Oct 3- 5.
Malaysia will be up against hosts and Olympic Champions Germany, Pakistan and Belgium in the invitational tour nament.
“Five players are currently overseas and they will join us in Hamburg, while I have selected the best squad and expect them to deliver in the tournament,” said Sarjit.
S. Selvaraju and Baljit Singh are currently in Germany, while Chua Boon Huat is playing in New Zealand, and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Jivan Mohan in the Netherlands.
All five will re-group for the tournament, where Malaysia will be looking to beat Belgium and Pakistan, and give their best against Germany.
The national team is practically jobless this year, and the players will return to play in the Malaysia Hockey League.
Their big assignment is the Asia Cup in Dubai next year as it offers three direct entries into the 2010 New Delhi World Cup.
Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea, India and Pakistan, will joined by Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Cup winner Bangladesh and runners-up Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup.
MALAYSIA -- Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Khairulnizam Ibrahim; Madzli Ikmar, Megat Azrafiq, Baljit Singh Sarjab Singh, Sallehin Ghani, Baljit Singh Charun Singh, Amin Rahim, Kelvinder Singh.
Sukri Mutalib, Sharun Nabil, Jivan Mohan, Azlan Misron, Razie Rahim, Chua Boon Huat, S. Selvaraju, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Ismail Abu.
HAMBURG MASTERS FIXTURES — Oct 3: Pakistan v Belgium, Malaysia v Germany.
Oct 4: Malaysia v Pakistan, Belgium v Germany.
Oct 5: Belgium v Malaysia, Pakistan v Germany.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nominations to decide President

THE next president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will be decided on the number of nominations received by Tan Sri Admiral (rtd) Anwar Mohd Nor and Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar.
This gentlemen’s agreement was reached between the president Anwar and his deputy Tunku Majid after a council meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“I am willing to serve hockey for another term, but it all depends on the states. I feel the person that gets the most number of nominations for the presidents post should be the one to lead the Federation for the next two years,” said Anwar.
And Tunku Majid concurred when asked if he will attempt to upgrade his position: “Ok, I agree. Both of us have a good working relationship, and can continue working together. The person that gets the most number of nominations, would be the next president.”
The council endorsed accounts yesterday, and nomina tions will open on October 3 and close on October 25. The Biennial General meeting and elections will be held on Nov 1. And the last day to withdraw from contesting is October 29.
Both Anwar and Tunku Majid are one-term officials, and it is highly unlikely that anyone else would challenge them to the top-two posts.
But the other posts, especially the vice-president’s and secretary’s, is expected to be keenly nominated.
The council also clarified that national chief coach Sarjit Singh will lead his men into the Hamburg Masters battle on Oct 3-5.
“There were some reports that said he will be removed and but we have made no such decision. He will continue to lead the national team, and even when a foreign consultant is hired, the coaching committee will decide on how best to restructure the coaching set-up in the country.
“In Europe, some teams have seven coaches to cater for physical, goalkeepers, nutrition and so on. Here, we only have a goalkeepers coach and chief coach and we need mor held leading to the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Olympics,” said Tunku Majid.
And on the proposed joint working committee by the Sports Ministry which will also have a representative from the 102 former players who sent a petition, the MHF said they do not recognise the ‘body’.
“Its the Sports Ministry and the National Sports Council which has included them in the committee, but we do not recognise them as they are not even a registered body.
“But if any of the 102 players want to help hockey they can always join the MHF sanctioned coaching courses and make themselves useful by going to clubs and schools and offer their services to improve the grassroots. We welcome them in that sense,” said Tunku Majid.

Dry run to thaw stadium

IT IS not the promised stadium, but the alternative will be just as good and follow all International Hockey Federation (FIH) specifications to host the Junior World Cup on June 7- 21 next year.
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the World Cup, with 10 teams playing in Johor while 10 more in Singapore.
Singapore will host a modest opening ceremony while Malaysia have been handed the closing ceremony, as well as to host the final.
“There were plans to build a new stadium with many state- of-the-art facilities, but we could not make it into a reality as the state government were a little tight on funds.
“However, and alternative stadium is there and nearing completion. The council were briefed on its progress today (yesterday) and once completed we will hold a four-team junior invitational tournament in march as a dry run.
“We will test immigration, transportation and other lo gistics so that there will be minimal hiccups on the actual day,” said Tunku Majid.
And on sponsorship: “The state government will help us source for funds, and the MHF will also look at their traditional sponsors to fund the tournament. We are con fident we will achieve the amount needed,” said Tunku Majid.
An estimated RM1.5 million is needed to make the tour nament a successful business venture.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More light on Junior World Cup

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation’s (MHF) council meeting in Kuala Lumpur today will hopefully shed light on the 2009 Junior World Cup.
Johor HA will present a status report on the tournament, slated for June 7-21 next year, and put to rest speculation that it is in jeopardy.
The council is also expected to be briefed that the Johor state government has pledged RM1.5 million for the tournament, which will be co-hosted with Singapore.
“We have been asking questions for the past three council meetings but did not receive any answers.
“I hope tomorrow (today), speculation on the stadium and financial situation will be put to rest,” said a council member who declined to be named.
The MHF is in dire financial straits after organising the Champions Trophy last year, and the true picture will emerge today as accounts will be closed to prepare for the year-end elections.
There is also expected to be an indication whether president Tan Sri Admiral (rtd) Anwar Mohd Nor will seek re-election.
Coaching and development chairman C. Paramalingam will also be out to defend his men, especially chief coach Sarjit Singh.
“Sarjit has been on the receiving end after we failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. Many quarters have questioned his coaching methods.
“I want to put an end to it because the records show otherwise. He coached Malaysia to a silver medal in the (2007) Azlan Shah Cup, and a bronze in the (2007) Asia Cup. Before him, we were the punching bags in both the tournaments for decades.
“When he was hired, his goal was not the immediate tournaments but to build this young Malaysian team into a strong side for the 2010 World Cup. Let him get on with the job without distractions is what I will brief the council,” said Paramalingam.
That, however, may not be in Paramalingam’s hands as Anwar, following a meeting with Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Thursday, said MHF was likely to hire a foreign coach.
Former players have also expressed dismay at Malaysia’s waning fortunes, as the Junior World Cup and Under-16 squads have also struggled in recent tournaments.
This led to 102 former internationals submitting a petition and the result is the, as announced by Ismail Sabri on Thursday, the formation of a working committee to oversee Malaysia’s qualification for the 2012 London Olympics.

SIGS are Premier girls

Top Scorer: Nur Amira Abu Samah (Seven goals, SIGS).
CHAMPS: Sultan Ibrahim Girls pose after the final.
Nur Amira Abu Samah with coach Ismail Othman.
SULTAN Ibrahim Girls School, Johor Baru, lifted the National Premier Schools tournament title recently when they beat Convent Bukit Nenas, Kuala Lumpur, 1-0 in Kangar, Perlis.
Eight teams competed in the Premier Schools tournament, and new-comers SIGS were the surprise package.
“It was our debut in the Premier tournament after we became South Zone champions by beating SMK Convent Muar 6-0 and SMK Puteri Negri Sembilan 2-1.
“It was a proud moment for the school, as the girls trained really hard for it,” said SIGS coach Ismail Othman.
The Johor Baru school had one Malaysia Games and four Malaysian Schools Sports Council players.
“We also had a warm-up against visiting South African an Singapore teams, and it helped them to become more confident.”
Group A: SMK Raja Perempuan Perak, SMK St Gorges, Penang, SM Sains Johor, Maktab Sabah.
Group B: SMK Sultan Ibrahim Girls School, SMK Mek Zainab, Kelantan, SMK Agama Selangor, SMK Convent Bukit Nenas, Kuala Lumpur.
Top Scorer: Nur Amira Abu Samah (Seven goals, SIGS).
Best Player: Norafizah Sulaiman (SIGS).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Karamjit gets Fusion to Excel

FROM LEFT -- Jagdev Singh, Karamjit Singh and Fusion Excel chief executive Paul Ting.
By Arnaz M. Khairul
ARMED with a little injection from new sponsors, Karamjit Singh and Jagdev Singh have their eyes set on just securing the Malaysian Rally Championship (MRC) overall title in the next round in Johor on Oct 11-12.
If expectations were for the duo to look at the overall title in the Malaysian Rally 2008 (MR8), which is round five of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), held simultaneously during that round, it is not to be. Karamjit-Jagdev will be present that weekend, but only as competitors in the local round.
"It is not financially viable for us to compete at that level, to fork out the budget and on top of that not get any points for competing there, as the regulations have changed. Even our car will not be on par, as the regulations for APRC have allowed a number of expensive upgrades for Group N-spec cars," said Karamjit.
"So, we will look at just one objective, which is the national championship. I need only two more points to secure my 10th ever national title and that is what we're going to look for."
He was speaking after receiving a RM20,000 cash injection from new sponsors Fusion Excel International, who also provide Quantum Science alternative health products to the team.
Fusion Excel chief executive Paul Ting said the company has been helping the careers of athletes in less popular sports and as such, saw Karamjit as an ideal partner.
"We've supported a number of golfers, some bowlers, even those competing in dragon boat races. We know that unlike football or other glamourous sports, the others have difficulties in raising the funding, so when we found out Karamjit was having the same difficulties, we stepped forward and got the ball rolling," said Ting.
This is the first step towards building a budget sufficient to enable the GSR-Pennzoil Racing duo of Karamjit and Jagdev to compete in a full season of the APRC next year. That would require a budget of at least RM2 million, significantly more than the RM400,000 they need to compete in the MRC this year.

Monday, September 8, 2008

No lipstick and powder in saddle

MATES: Norlaily Buniyamin with her poster boy Jessie James.

FIFTEEN men and a lone lady rider have been short-listed to train for the World Endurance Championships (WEC) in Terengganu on Nov 6-9.
But four riders will be dropped after centralised training, and the gutsy lady, Norlaily Buniyamin, does not want to be in that stable.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin is also among those who have qualified for the WEC. And he has registered Pascha Larzac and Moonlight Pharaoh as his mounts.
“I have a good feeling that I will be able to make the final cut, as my horse has been in terrific form this year,” said Norlaily.
Norlaily is more at home when astride her mount, Jessie James, riding 160 kilometres under torturing conditions. So, when it came to dolling-up for the press conference yes terday, she found out that her saddle did not have lipstick and powder in it.
“I had to rush out and buy lipstick and powder for this function, and my mum gave me an earful!,” said Norlaily.
Which is just as well, because there is no special category in the WEC, and she will be competing against rugged men from all over the world on equally menacing horses, who kick and bite.
“Jessie James is from Australia and has been in Malaysia for the past five years. And we finished second in the Royal Kelantan Endurance (in August).
“I believe the WEC it will be much better for ‘local’ horses, as opposed to riders who have to fly their horses down, and then get them acclimatised for the race,” said Norlaily.
National Sports Institute Director General Datuk Dr Ram lan Aziz said: “In June this year, only five riders had qualified and we were worried on how to get seven more into the WEC. And so, it was a sweet surprise when 11 more qualified via various races, and now we will have to trim the squad instead, to meet the quota allotted.”
TRAINING SQUAD: Datuk Kamaruddin Ghani, Datuk Shuaib Isahak, Datuk Abdullah Taib, Faizal Ismail, Rosdam Noor, Che Ahmad Yusri, Alif Sabidi, Yusran Yusof, Zainuddin Yusof, Rino Rani, Halim Alihan, Bakar Aman, Norlaily Buniyamin, Firdaus Hamid, Azizie Ismail.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

2009 Junior World Cup on track

FILE PIC: Anwar with Annabel.

SINGAPORE and Malaysia pledged yesterday that facilities to host the Junior World Cup on June June 7-21 next year will be ready on time.
Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) president Annabel Dillon and deputy president Kuldip Singh were down for a meeting with members of the Malaysian Hockey Confed eration (MHC) yesterday, and among the matters agreed upon was to register a joint-venture company to run the world cup.
“Initially, there were apprehensions from both sides re garding venues, but the problems have been solved, and we are now working to have the best Junior World Cup ever,” said Annabel.
Singapore will host 10 teams at Sengkang West and the venue should be ready by early next year. The sports centre comes with two swimming pools and water slides, as well as a sports hall and hockey field.
Johor will host the other 10, including the finals.
“Singapore will host the opening ceremony, while Malaysia the closing ceremony,” said MHC president Tan Sri Admiral (rtd) Anwar Mohd Now.
Anwar also said a representative from the the Inter national Hockey Federation (FIH) will inspect both the venues on Oct 8.
“Singapore and Malaysia will make do with temporary stands, and not build mammoth stadiums, because even the FIH feels it is a waste of resources to do so.
“And there will be follow-up meetings soon, and after ironing out some company law and tax issues, a joint venture company will be formed and it will be all-systems go from now,” said Anwar.
A total of 88 matches involving 20 teams will be played in the first co-sanctioned Junior World Cup, and both the hosts have pledged to make it a memorable one.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

School plan, still in the frying-pan

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation’s (MHF) plans to hand age-group tournaments to schools still remains a plan, two months after it was mooted.
An informal meeting was held among MHF, the Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) and the National Sports Council (NSC), but nothing concrete came out of it.
And there has been silence since.
“Yes, we have yet to meet again after the initial discussion, but I assure all that the idea will take flight by next year,” said MHF coaching and development chairman C. Parama lingam.
The MHF council had decided to hand age-group hockey back to school, where MSSM will organise the The Cham pions School, Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 with the MHF providing the technical aspect of the game.
MHF will only concentrate on the Under-21, Junior Hockey League, Malaysia Hockey League and the Razak Cup.
“This plan will work on a long-term basis to help hockey in the country. Lets take the under-12 as an example. If we start next year, in 10 years time, the boys will be ready to represent the country in major international tournaments.
“The MHF Coaching and Development Committee will help MSSM by providing coaches for grassroots development where there are no teachers with qualifications, as in this way systematic development can start from next year in schools.
“And we also plan to administer the same coaching system for all the age-group, so that when the players mature into national material, the coach will not have to start from scratch again.
“This system has long been practiced in many European countries, and their medals speak of its success,” said Paramalingam.
That is, provided the plan does not remain a plan, like the Wawasan Hoki Negara, which is being slowly choked to oblivion by a thick layer of dust.

Hometown ovation for Keli

Selinsgrove leaders plan on giving local Olympian Keli Smith a gold medal round of applause today for representing Selinsgrove High School in Beijing.
Smith played on the U.S. women's Olympic field hockey team, scoring two goals in the team's first victory. The 1997 Selinsgrove High School graduate has played for a decade on U.S. national field hockey teams, drawing inspiration from her grandmother and her father, Neal, who was an All-American safety at Penn State.

She's a great young lady, we're very proud of her," Selinsgrove High School principal Reed Messmore said. "She brings pride to the school."

How does Smith describe her stay in the Olympic village? In a word -- indescribable.

"I say to everyone that words will never describe what it was like. It was amazing just to be a part of so many great athletes," she said.

Messmore and Selinsgrove Mayor Pete Carroll will honor Smith tonight during a pre-game commemoration at the Selinsgrove High School football game vs. Mifflinburg at Harold L. Bolig Memorial Stadium. Smith will also speak to students next Friday, Messmore noted. She'll be able to impart to them something that's become a theme in her life: The idea that no matter where you go, your roots are always with you.

"Although hockey has allowed me to travel the world, I don't feel any different as a person. It's important to never forget where you came from," said Smith. "I always love to come home."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Six Malaysians venture overseas

MALAYSIAN players (in yellow, from Left) S. Selvaraju, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Kelvinder Singh and Jivan Mohan.
NATIONAL hockey players are making full use of the lull in Malaysia to play in leagues in Germany, Holland, Australia and New Zealand.
“A total of six players are of will be playing in overseas league, and this augurs well for the future of the sport,” said National Sports Council elite development office Ariffin Ghani.
S. Selvaraju and Baljit Singh are currently in Germany, Jiwa Mohan in Australia; while Chua Boon Huat will head for New Zealand, and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Jivan Mohan to the Netherlands.
“We are working with the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to expose more players by playing in overseas leagues, as they have an important assignment in the Asia Cup next year,” said Ariffin.
The Asia Cup will be held in Dubai next year, and it offers three direct entries into the 2010 New Delhi World Cup. Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea, India and Pakistan, will joined by Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Cup winner Bangladesh and runners-up Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup.
Tengku and Jivan will be playing in Division One outfit Hilversum Amsterdam, and the duo together with Selvaraju and Baljit will join the national team for the Hamburg Masters on Oct 3-5.
Malaysia will be up against Germany, Belgium and Pak istan in the Masters.
The players are expected to return on time for the Malaysia Hockey League, which starts on Oct 10.
Meanwhile, Ariffin also said plans to hire South Korean coach Kim Sang Ryul is still at the blueprint stage.
“I did meet him in Beijing just before China (whom Kim was coaching) played Germany and did not have the time to approach him for a confirmation,” said Ariffin.
Kim, if he accepts the offer, will be appointed as a consultant to the national juniors and seniors.