Monday, January 10, 2011

Fungus at every level

ARTIFICIAL hockey pitches are still a luxury in Malaysia even though they were introduced in early 1970s, and with the first Olympic Games on this surface being held at the 1976 Montreal edition.
There are less than 20 synthetic hockey pitches, which are in working order, and the number is fast dwindling because nobody seem to care about them.
Last weekend’s Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division matches were played at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh so that fans from the Silver State could watch some top action at their doorsteps.
But what a tragedy it turned out to be because when teams arrived days before the weekend fixtures, they found out to their horror that almost the entire surface of itch I and II were covered with black fungus.
The Stadium, named after a former MHF president, were laid barely two years ago for the Azlan Shah Cup but lack of use and poor maintenance is slowly destroying its surface.
Workers tried to wash the surface but it was of little help as players slipped and fell more than they should, and coaches fumed as their well laid plans turned as rotten as the pitch.
The Azlan Shah Stadium is out of bounds for schools as well as club teams, for reasons only known by those running the stadium, and the Premier Division players were left with a bad taste in their mouth, as well as a bag-full of black fungi stuck to their boots, attire and hockey sticks which followed them back home to Kuala Lumpur.
Another pitch that is going to meet the same fate is the newly laid Ministry of Education synthetic pitch in Jalan Pantai, Kuala Lumpur.
The Ministry only allows schools, and recently the national men’s team were allowed to train there on a special MoU. Even university sides, leave alone clubs, are not allowed to make their bookings and this was evident when Universiti Sains Malaysia and UniTen had to play at the adjacent Kuala Lumpur HA pitch on Sunday while the Ministry’s pitch only had crows circling it.
The KLHA pitch is probably the most overused in the country as bookings are full from Am to PM, but is still looks like brand new after six years because of the proper care that it gets.
Now for the icing.
Both the artificial pitches at the Bukit Jalil Hockey Stadium were stripped when work started in May last year.
But up till today, there is hardly any progress at both the dug-up pitches as fingers are pointed at every direction for the delay.
And, MHF official believe both the pitches will not even be ready by the end of this year, and that is why the national men’s team have started training at the Ministry’s pitch while the MHF secure the playing rights to the Tun Razak Stadium.
The Petaling Jaya Municipal Council, as well as three pitches up north, one in the East Coast and one in Johor Baru have also crumbled or are only breeding fungi, instead of talent for the nation.

Happy-sad moment for Selvaraju

S. SELVARAJU, 25, gave his best against Tenaga Nasional in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League on Saturday, and instead of jubilation, ended up with mixed feelings.
Selvaraju, a former international who was dropped after he went to France to playn his trade and gain experience, was started his career with the TNB Junior Hockey League side and then graduated to their senior outfit.
But this season, he moved to UniKL, and his new home beat TNB 2-1 at the Azlan Shah Stadium.
“I gave my very best, like in all the matches I play, and of course was happy when we beat a strong TNB outfit, but there was also a tinge of sadness because I grew up with them,” said Selvaraju.
Selvaraju attributes the upset to the many young players in UniKL as well as their New Zealand coach Darren Smith.
“Our coach told us from the beginning that we will be put through drills not to prepare for the MHL, but for an international standard tournament.
“With that in our mindset, everybody worked like we were going to play in a world cup or Olympics, and it has done wonders to our attitude as well as fitness level,” said Selvaraju.
UniKL are tied on 12 points with Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club, but they have played one match less.
When asked about the 11 players who are below 20 in his side: “They are eager to learn and easy to communicate with. And they not only listen to the coach but also the seniors in the side when their mistakes are pointed out.
“I believe this is the best bunch of mates I have had for a long time, as every one is eager to learn and then give their best in matches.
“Personally speaking, I would like to see UniKL at the top of the podium, but it is only going to get tougher after our last win against TNB,” said Selvaraju.