Friday, October 2, 2009

Nur Insafi to field 18 foreign players

India's Len Aiyappa, 2nd from right, jumps up as he battles for the ball in the game against Pakistan during the 14th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2005. Nur Insafi have hired him for the Premier League on Dec 4.

MALAYSIA Hockey League stakeholders were all smiles in agreement to the new Premier League format which was discussed yesterday.
Among the exciting features of the Premier League is that teams will travel from state to state to play matches, and promote as well as encourage grassroots development, in a ‘dying sport’.
“The MHL needed a boost and I see this idea of playing matches in at least six states as an exciting idea to promote a sport which was once popular in schools, but is slowly dying in some states,” said Sapura team manager Abdullah Yunus.
There will be coaching clinics, as well as exhibition matches to attract the crowd to stadiums, and one match every Friday will be shown live on ESPN.
And the fact that the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will foot the accommodation, travel and logistics bills at the venues took a great burden off team budgets.
A total of 44 matches, including two round quarter-finals and two round semi-finals have been planned for the Premier League.
Division One champions UiTM and runners-up Airod Armed Forces will join in during the quarter-finals stage.
“I believe the league will receive a big boost if run professionally, and it would also be a chance for hockey fans at states to watch their favourite players in action,” said Tenaga Nasional coach K. Rajan.
The five clubs which sent representatives to the meeting were Sapura, Tenaga, Nur Isafi, Maybank and Universiti Kuala Lumpur. Only Ernst and Young has opted out of the League.
Nur Insafi will make full use of no limit on foreign players to field 18 players from Pakistan and India. Former India national player Len Ayaippa, a drag flicker, will be on their payroll.
“We have no choice but to field 18 imports as there are no more good players left for us to choose from. Only four local players will be playing for us this season,” said Nur Insafi manager M. Thaitchana.
The league is slated to start on Dec 4, but if Malaysia qualify for the New Delhi World Cup the MHF have standby plans.
“If we qualify for the World Cup, a discussion will be held with the national team management and coaches and see if they will allow the players represent their clubs during weekends, and return to training on weekdays.
“The closing date for entries is Oct 14, and we will be happy if six to eight teams play in the Premier League,” said MHF secretary Sgt Hashim.

MHL set for exciting days

THE Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) received a severe blow when Ernst and Young pulled out of the Premier League, but the Malaysian Hockey Federation are unfazed and have big plans for the tournament this year.
A meeting with the stake-holders will be held today where the MHF will outline their plans and seek approval from the clubs.
The five club representatives who will be in the meeting today are from Sapura, Maybank, Nur Insafi, Tenaga Na sional and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
Ernst and Young were also invited, because they have yet to officially write in their pull-out to the MHF, but they did not respond.
UniKL is new outfit who will join the Premier League as their affiliation with Kuala Lumpur HA has been sorted out. The new team is expected to utilise players form the Project 2013 squad.
The MHF plan to change the Premier League format in a big way, and instead if playing in Kuala Lumpur, the five or six teams will be travelling to at least six states to play three matches each weekend.
“The plan is to take hockey to the states and allow the fans from all over the country to enjoy the Premier League. States were selected based on the availability of floodlights as the matches will be played at night to attract the maximum number of fans,” said an official who declined to be named as the plan has yet to be put forward to the clubs.
Among the states which have been identified are Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
There are also plans to hold a coaching clinic for youth before the matches and ESPN have also been roped in to provide one live match at least per week.
“The coaching clinics will benefit the youth in states, while the live matches will give sponsors Tenaga Nasional added value for sponsoring the League.”
A total of 44 matches, including two round quarter-finals and two round semi-finals have been planned for the Premier League.
Division One champions UiTM and runners-up Airod Armed Forces will join in during the quarter-finals stage.
And it the plan takes off, next year, MHF hope to invite four club champions from Asia to join in from the quarters onwards.
But the survival of plan is subject to the approval of clubs today, then the Competitions Committee on Sunday and finally the MHF Council.
Also, if Malaysia win gold medal in the New Zealand Qualifier from Nov 7-15, then the Premier League, which is supposed to start on Dec 4, might be shelved.