Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mammoth boost for hockey in Selangor...

FROM LEFT ... SHA VP J. Elangovan Chairman Competitions Committee,  QI Group’s Deputy Group Managing Director Kuna Senathirajah, SHA President, Ganesh Shanmugam and SHA Deputy President  Dr  S. Shamala,

THE QNET-TNB Selangor Hockey League kicks off on Aug 19 with a whopping 71 teams gunning for titles in various divisions.
  This will not only by the biggest number of teams taking part in the history of Selangor hockey but also, the biggest state league in Malaysia.
  Asian Direct Selling Company, QNET announced its continued
sponsorship for the third year running for the men's, women's, schoolboys' and girls' categories, to be played at three venues in the Klang Valley.
   This year’s edition will also see Tenaga Nasional Berhad, as
co-sponsors with matches being played at the Petaling Jaya City Council, Pandamaran and the KPM Pantai Stadiums.
  The league will also introduce a new division called the District Level Development (DLD) as part of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) and the Ministry of Education Sports Division development partnership program. 
  Each DLD district will be allowed to field one under-14 team in the league for free and the matches will be played in the KPM Stadium in Pantai.
  S. Kuna, QI Group’s deputy group managing director expressed
his delight on the continued partnership with Selangor HA.
  “As a keen supporter of one of our top national sport, I am also quite happy to see the league moving into full gear for the third year running.
 "This will give a good platform for hockey fans in the state to see top class action up close and in the process unearthing new talent which could be nurtured into national or world class players.”
  “Additionally, our partnership with Selangor HA clearly demonstrates our strong support for the development of hockey, where Malaysia is ranked 12th in the world, and having qualified for the World Cup in India next year,” said Kuna.
  In Division One, defending champions UiTM will looking to win their fourth consecutive title but are expected to face stiff competition.
  PJCC Tigers will be one of the teams to watch as they won the Junior Hockey League Division One title in May. 
  Also looking to challenge UiTM will be the Hamzah Machang and X-Matrix.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Van Huizen: No issues with Baljit...


NATIONAL chief coach Stephen van Huizen said Baljit Singh Charun has contributed immensely for the last 10 years, but fell a few rungs to younger players recently, and that's why he was placed in the development squad.
  Baljit was then moved to train with the indoor hockey team preparing for the Sea Games, and when he failed to be selected, he quit the sport for good on Monday.
  "He has always been a hardworking player, serious in training and never had any issues with any of us (team management) and that's why I was surprised to read that he felt that I was avoiding him.
  "Anyway, I called Baljit and spoke to him and explained the situation where a few players moved up the rung and he had to be placed in the development squad and then indoor hockey.
  "Maybe there was miscommunication between both of us as I was busy training the field hockey players while Baljit was with the indoor squad.
  "Actually I had wanted to meet up with him after the Sea Games to discuss his future, but since he has quit, I wish him all the best," said van Huizen.
  On Monday, Baljit had said that there is no more reason for him to hang around the training squad, as Stephen ven Huizen kept avoiding him regarding his future plans.
  "No such thing. Our paths crossed several times and there were no issues between us.
  "Anyway, he gave his best for the nation whenever he was called up and never disappointed. He was also one of the best first runners (in penalty corners) we had.
  "However, some of the younger players caught up, and then overtook him and that's a natural process (in any sport)," said van Huizen.

Thanks for the memories, Baljit...

By Jugjet Singh

THANKS for the memories Malaysia!
  These were Baljit Singh Charun's parting words to Malaysian hockey, marking the exit of the last standing Sikh.
  The memories were good initially, but towards the end, he faced some terribly testing times which he rather forget.
  "There is no more reason for me to hang around the training squad, as the coach (Stephen ven Huizen) keeps avoiding me regarding his future plans with me.
  "Also, if I am not good enough to represent the country in the Sea Games, that shows the level of confidence the selectors have in me," said Baljit.
  Sea Games is the lowest category for World No 12th ranked Malaysia, and even with a juniors outfit, the country beat a senior Singapore side to the gold medal at their own turf in 2015.
   Baljit joined Tenaga Nasional 2004 and helped them to three overall titles in the Malaysia Hockey League in 2004, 2007 and 2009. He made his senior international debut at the 2007 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
  After which he helped the country win silver at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, and played in many other tournaments including the gold at the 2013 Sea Games.
  "Things changed after I helped Malaysian qualify for the Hague World Cup (2014). I gave everything I had in the qualifier (World League Semifinals in Johor 2013) to help the country finish fifth and qualify for the World Cup on merit.
  After the Johor WL Semifinals, the coaching circle was in a turmoil as chief coach Paul Revington came under severe personal and professional attack and decided to leave in a huff.
  In came K. Dharmaraj, and Baljit's exit from the sport started.
  "After playing one of the best tournaments in my life and qualifying for the World Cup, I felt that the break that I was looking for has finally arrived.
  "I'm going to play in a World Cup."
  But it was not to be. As from being among the top-three defenders in Revington's squad, Baljit became a shadow in Dharmaraj's team.
  And shockingly he was replaced with German-born Kevin Lim, whom Dharmaraj saw playing only once in a tournament in Australia.
  Baljit's nightmare started the day he was told that Kevin Lim would be replacing him in the Hague World Cup.
  There was a twist of faith when the team arrived at the Hague and after playing a friendly game a few days before the World Cup, Kevin Lim pulled a hamstring and coach Dharmaraj sent an S.O.S to the team management for a replacement.
  Instead of Baljit, Dharmaraj asked for Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin. It was only days ago that Izad had just recovered from being hospitalised, but was rushed to the Hague where he arrived in the morning and played in the evening against Australia -- naturally losing 4-0.
  Malaysia, in the end, lost all their matches at the Hague and the nail was a 6-2 drubbing in the hands of South Africa in the 11-12th classification.
  "After the World Cup, I was consistently sidelined and told to give hockey up. And not being selected for Sea Games is the final straw," said Baljit.
  Moved from field to indoor training for the Sea Games, and then not even selected for the new event, coach Paul Lissek summed it up.
  "Baljit is still a very good player in my books, but he badly wanted to play field hockey and his heart was not with the indoor game," said Lissek who has been roped in by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation as consultant to the indoor men's and women's team.
  Once the back-bone of the Malaysian team since the 1956 Melbourne Olympics till a decade ago, Baljit's exit marks a sad era in the country's Sikh hockey history.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

KLHA: No child will be left behind...

 SURROUNDED: MHC President Subanah with eager players.
WITH SCRIBE ... MHC Deputy President Dr Shamala

KUALA Lumpur HA Saturday reached a new milestone when they launched their very own Junior Development Programme where 'no child will be left behind'.
  And the launch received spectacular response, as about 100 children from the ages of 18 to 8-years-old filled the KLHA artificial pitch even tough schools are currently having their inter-district hockey tournament.
  Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Subahan Kamal launched the programme with KLHA president Datuk Abu Huraira Abu Yazid.
  Lauding the initiative, Subahan said MHC are also working with the Education Ministry and Tenaga Nasional to take hockey back to schools.
  "We have had a brief talk with the Sports Minister as well as Tenaga Nasional on a proposal to take hockey back to schools. Many schools do not have a hockey programme, and so, with funding from Tenaga we hope to make hockey a mass sport," said Subahan.
  Former national player I. Vickneswaran, chairman of the KLHA Junior Development Programme, said he has his mind set on giving every child a chance to excel in hockey.
  "This development plan is for under-21 and is for both boys and girls. We will stick with development and not shift our focus on an elite team and then forget about the newcomers in the long run.
  "And whenever there are age-group tournaments the players can represent their clubs or schools and KLHA will form a team or two out of all those who are not selected and give them a chance to play as well.
  "In this way, no child will be left behind," said Vickneswaran.
  Many established development coaches also attended the launch and MHC will send their high level coaches whenever there is a request from KLHA.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book an electrifying time with TNB...

By Jugjet Singh

TENAGA Nasional Bhd (TNB) is a starting block which has propelled many hockey players from remote villages to the Olympic Village and to the World Cup stage.
   The utility giant has also nurtured many coaches of calibre.
   And TNB is still at it, generating opportunities for players and others by providing employment and financial support like a caring parent would.
    To commemorate the hockey greats, TNB launched a coffee table book titled The Sticks, which is a compilation of its involvement in hockey as well as the greats who have played at the highest level.
  The book was launched by Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin with TNB chief corporate officer Datuk Wira Roslan Ab Rahman on Thursday while many former and present Tenaga players graced the occasion.
   From Kilat Club players in the 1970s to current national players who work with TNB and represent the nation, their stellar history, with nostalgic pictures, grace the coffee table book.
   Hockey started with Kilat Club back in the 1950s, when they played in Division Two of the Selangor HA League.
   It was TNB’s strength in employing hockey players, many as meter readers, and giving them much encouragement, leave and playing gear, that made the company a powerhouse to produce national players out of budding talents.
  Household names in hockey have TNB to thank for, for providing them with the sprinting block from the days of grass to artificial pitches.
  Nor Saiful Zaini is one of the many who are thankful to TNB. For the energy giant gave him a chance to become a three time-Olympian who competed in the 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games.
  “I am what I am today because of Tenaga Nasional. When they scouted my hockey talent, I was offered a clerk’s position and now I have reached managerial level.
  “And in hockey, the encouragement and support they gave me was simply amazing. I became a national skipper, three-time Olympian, played in the World Cup, Asian Games and Champions Trophy – all because of Tenaga’s undying support,” said Nor Saiful.
   Nor Saiful and many of his TNB  teammates are giving back to the sport by running the successful Thunderbolts programme that has made Thunderbolts a much feared power in the Junior Hockey League.
   Former National Juniors coach Balbir Singh said: “To sum it up, there is nothing bad that any hockey player who belongs to the Kilat and then the TNB family can say about the company.”
  Balbir, in his 70s, still conducts junior development programmes at various clubs in the Klang Valley with zest.
  K. Rajan echoed Balbir’s sentiments. The 2009 Junior World Cup coach, then Thailand and now Singapore head coach, believes his fortunes changed when he was recruited by Tenaga in his youth.
  “Their simple strategy of employing budding hockey players has worked wonders since the 1970s until today. I owe my career in sport to Tenaga, and I believe many others share the same feelings,” said Rajan.
   From the 1950s Kilat had the Shepherdson brothers Mike and Christie, and talents like Kuldeep Singh, Jack Johnson and Harnahal Singh will never be forgotten either.
   The names below speak for TNB’s hockey passion which was inscripted in the coffee table book.
   Poon Fook Loke, Razak Leman, Brian Sta Maria, Foo Keat Seong, Sulaiman Saibot, M. Surenthiran, Sarjit Singh, Nor Saiful Zaini, K Embaraj, S. Sivabalan, K. Dharmaraj and Mirnawan Nawawi.
   The younger generation will know Madzli Ikmar, the late Chua Boon Huat, S. Kumar, Nor Azlan Bakar, Amin Rahim, M. Kaliswaran, Faizal Shaari, Firhan Azhaari, Ramadan Rosli.
   The Kilat Padang has its own history, as it was there back in 1975 that Malaysia beat the Netherlands 2-1 to qualify for the semifinals and finish fourth in the World Cup which is still the nation’s best achievement to date.

Past and present faces at TNB hockey book launch..

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Stephen van Huizen: Joel is fine for Sea Games...

NATIONAL chief coach Stephen van Huizen will field his son Joel (pic) in the Sea Games, as he passed a medical test conducted on him recently.
  Joel collapsed twice in the World League Round Two in Dhaka in March, and before that he also collapsed while playing for Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club in the Malaysia Hockey League.
  After Dhaka, Joel was rested and not fielded for the Azlan Shah Cup as well as the World League Semifinals in London where Malaysia finished fourth and qualified for the World Cup in India next year.
  "After the Dhaka incidents, I rested him for two other tournaments but kept him in the training squad. He will play in the Sea Games because the ISN (National Sports Institute) conducted tests on him and gave an all-clear.
  "That was the first question NSC (National Sports Council) officials asked me when I presented the Sea Games list of 18 players to them.
  "And when I showed them the medical report, they agreed to field Joel," said van Huizen.
  In Dhaka, Joel became a centre of controversy when he suddenly collapsed while playing against Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals. And since he fell in an off-the-ball incident, the umpire flashed a red card to the nearest Sri Lankan because he thought the player had hit Joel on the head with his hockey stick.
  The Sri Lankan protested but was sent off with 20 minutes remaining in the match. 
  Match officials and umpires manager Amarjit Singh (a Malaysian) viewed the incident on video after the match and were shocked to watch Joel collapse on his own and the Sri Lankan never touched him.
  The red card was revoked, but the drama did not stop there.
  In the semi-finals against Egypt, Joel again collapsed and was stretchered out -- but this time the umpires were wiser.
  Technical Director terry Walsh had said in Dhaka then: "Numerous test have been conducted on this boy (Joel) but they stil can't find the reasons for his sudden black-outs."
  And van Huizen is confident the problem will not affect Joel in the Sea Games.
  "Well talking as a father, if Joel was in any danger, I will not field him. But since his tests with ISN did not indicate anything and they gave him a clean bill of health, there is no reason why he can't play in the Sea Games," said van Huizen.
 MALAYSIA (men's field hockey): S. Kumar (gk), Hafizuddin Othman (gk), Razie Rahim, Sukri Mutalib, Izad Hakimi, Faiz Helmi, Azri Hassan, Marhan Jalil, Fitri Saari, Nabil Fiqri, Meor Azuan, Joel Samuel Van Huizen, Ramadan Rosli, Shahril Saabah, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Rashid Baharom, Nik Aiman Rozemi, Faizal Saari.

Legends who attended Datuk Ow Soon Kooi's press conference...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ow Soon Kooi: I quit because of medical and meddlers...


DATUK OW Soon Kooi likes to stay away from controversies, and is always diplomatic even though the situation warrants otherwise.
  And so it came as a surprise when he called for a press conference to clear the air on why he resigned from the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) vice-president as well as coaching committee chairman posts in a huff.
  He had, then, cited health reasons for quitting every post in the MHC.
 But yesterday, he said he had to clear the air as allegations in news and other media had tarnished his corporate-man image.
  And no less than whose-who in Malaysian hockey attended his press conference at the Olympic Council of Malaysia hotel.
  In walked 1975 World Cup members Datuk Poon Fook Loke, R. Pathmarajah and skipper Datuk Sri Shanmuganathan.
  And for good measure 'they brought along' 1975 World Cup famous umpire Datuk G. Vijayanathan who blew during the India-Pakistan final.
  Former national juniors coach Balbir Singh, international Gurmit Singh, M. Sambu ... and it looked like a re-union of greats as even some women national players came.
  But it was not a merry get-together, as they had come to listen to former skipper and two time Olympian as well as two time World Cup player Ow speak his heart. 
  Ow started by presenting all the work his committee has done over the years, with statistics, to show that his committee was not dormant as alleged by many.
  And he also said the reason why they only had one meeting in 2016 was because everything was in place by then, and they ran the show by making decisions on a social media group-chat.
  Ow said that his reputation as a corporate man was built on being strict about rules and hierarchy. He doesn't believe in breaking rank, and followed procedure to be where he is today from a poor, a very poor background.
  Being a former policeman did not 'help' when he watched others breaking this hierarchy rules.
  And that's why when MHC officials made decisions on behalf of his committee and compelled them to follow -- it made him mad.
  He gave examples which named four officials of being guilty, with the prime target being Technical Director Terry Walsh.
  Ow gave examples where Walsh made coaching decisions without consulting his committee, and it made them wonder who is running the show.
  Citing an example, Ow narrated about the hiring of Paul Lissek to become the indoor hockey consultant for Sea Games.
  Walsh had approached Ow about the matter and when asked, he was told that Lissek is willing to work for free or at a nominal feel -- as Lissek had coached the Malaysian field hockey team before and was very knowledgeable about indoor hockey as well.
  Ow and Walsh agreed on an RM X amount to be paid to Lissek as a consultant. But after three weeks, Ow found out that Lissek was being paid six and a half time higher than the discussed salary.
  When he asked an MHC official about it, the official said he had raised the salary all by himself -- without consulting anybody.
  There were many other examples of meddling in his committee, but the Lissek episode broke the camels back, and coupled with his nagging neck pain, Ow decided to call it a day.
  Attempts to call and SMS MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal to clear the air on the above issue were not answered.