Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Double blow for Sports School

BUKIT Jalil Sports School (BJSS) received a double blow this season as the new format for the local league will rob them of one tournament, and they will only be fielding under- 17 players.
BJSS, the double champions last year, have a collection of ten titles under their belt -- six League and Four Overall. They were the ‘unbeatable’ in the JHL since 2003, as they won 24 out of 25 matches - losing only to Petaling Jaya City Council in the 2006 Overall title hunt.
Last season, BJSS fielded a team in the Junior Hockey League (JHL) and also played in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), but a change in format will see them play in only one tournament this year.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) competitions committee has decided that this year, there will no longer be a JHL and MHL, but a premier Division and Division One for the seniors, and Division Two and Three for the under-19 boys.
And unlike previous years, the Under-19 team or their players cannot take part in the Premier and Division One.
“Last season we were in an ideal situation because BJSS played in the MHL and also the JHL, but it looks like we will have to make do with only one tournament after the format was changes,” lamented BJSS coach S. Prakash.
But Prakash does not mind fielding only under-17 boys, as his older charges are in training for the Junior World Cup on June 7-21.
The MHF have also decided not to release the World Cup trainees for the local leagues.
“We were a much stronger team in the past seasons because we had pre-university boys with us, but this year, we will only be fielding under-71 boys.
“But that is not a problem, because the duty of the school is to provide national material, and we are glad to be able to blood more youngsters,” Prakash.
But with the new format, the quality playing hours of BJSS boys will be drastically reduced.
The under-19 tournament will start on Feb 20, while the Premier Division is slated sometime in October.

Grey areas a worrying factor

THERE are plenty of grey areas in the proposed auto-play rule which the International Hockey Federation (FIH) aim to introduce by May, but still the Malaysian Hockey Federation Umpires Board (MHFUB) will use it for the Under-19 tour nament which starts on Feb 20.
In a gist, the auto-play rule no longer requires a player to pass the ball from a free hit, before he can play it again. The player can now immediately start attacking from a free-hit, making the game much faster.
The Euro Hockey League has already started using it.
“We have yet to receive a draft of the proposed rule change from FIH, and I will be writing to them soon to clear some matters as the Umpires Board feels the players should be given a head start as we will be hosting the Junior World Cup in June,” said MHFUB chairman Amarjit Singh.
The new rule is set to cause more misery to defenders, as players taking a free-hit just outside the opponents semi- circle may be allowed to run with the ball into the semi-circle and take a hit at goal, or manufacture a penalty corner.
“These are some of the grey areas which has yet to be addressed by the FIH, and when we hold a meeting on Feb 15, we hope to have more answers so that we can advise teams taking part in the Under-19 tournament on the correct procedures,” said Amarjit.
Malaysia will co-host the Junior World Cup with Singapore on June 7-21, and it is highly likely that the new rule will be used.
Meanwhile, the International class umpires pool has al most reached its last drop in Malaysia, as Amarjit is the only one eligible to umpire in the Junior World Cup.
“Yes, I am the only one left standing, but I have yet to receive an appointment from the FIH for the Junior World Cup.
“The situation is quite bad, as even though we have a pool of about 200 umpires, but the majority are too old as the youth are staying away.
“The MHFUB held its first meeting recently, and we will come out with a guidebook for umpires this month, and with the help of the Education Ministry, we hope to have a pool of young teachers soon.”
Amarjit is also of the opinion that club and national coaches should also undergo umpires courses, as it will make them more tolerant when sitting on the bench.
“I will speak to coaching committee chairman Dr Balbir Singh on how we can work together to have some umpiring courses for the coaches, and hopefully, there will not be many disputes once they come to terms with certain rules,” said Amarjit.