| Jugjet Singh | Opinion | 9 May 2016 | Asia Samachar |
SOMETHING is very wrong with the grassroot development of hockey.
Schools, states, clubs and 1Mas development programmes have failed to unearth even a single Sikh, Chinese or Indian to represent Malaysia in the 2016 Junior World Cup which will be held in New Delhi.
Yes, the only good news when the April training squad of Project 2016 was released yesterday by team manager Mirnawan Nawawi was Sabah-born Maxhans Christi.
The other 24 players were all Malay.
And the ongoing National Under-16 tournament is no better, as even though 13 states are competing and there are a total of 234 players, there is only one Sikh boy playing for Kuala Lumpur and six Indian boys — three from Negri Sembilan, two from Kedah and one from Perak.
In the Girls’ Under-16 where 11 states are competing, there are only four Indian girls — two from Kedah, and one each from Pahang and Selangor.
The Chinese are nowhere to be seen, while Sabah has 18 boys and 18 girls competing.
Former national coach K. Dharmaraj, who is attached with the National Sports Council now, is the main scout for the Under-16 tournament where he plans to select 30 to 35 players and form Project 2020.
This will be the start-up to Dharmaraj’s personal dream of winning the Junior World Cup in 2020, after he and his charges claimed the fourth spot in the 2013 New Delhi World Cup.
Coming back to the Project 2016 which will play at the Kuantan Junior Asia Cup in November, which is a Junior World Cup qualifier, Mirnawan said there are no excellent players of other races coming out of the current development programme.
Mirnawan, who has played with a multi-racial team in World Cups as well as the Olympics, said he would like to see other races coming out of the woodwork, but it is too late for the next World Cup.
“I would love to see all the races representing Malaysia like a decade ago, but at the moment, not many non Malays play hockey. Even at the ongoing Under-16 one can count the number of non-Malays with one hand.
“My wish is that in Project 2020, we need to develop more excellent players from the other race group. Curently, from the 25 playuers in training in Project 2016, only Maxhans is the odd one out.”
Six new players were added to the Project 2016 after the conclusion of the Junior Hockey League, and the scouts could not even find one Sikh, Indian or Chinese from the 30 teams, comprising a total of 540 players, which competed in the two JHL divisions.
Something is really wrong with the development of the sport in the country.
Clubs like UniKL Young Guns are doing the right thing by having open training sessions every weekend where everybody is invited to join in, and even those who can hardly hold hockey sticks properly are coached with patience by former and current national players.
But something must be very wrong at the schools as well as the 1Mas programme at the state levels, which has funding to the millions, when they can’t even produce one Chinese to replace the late Chua Boon Huat.
Baljit Singh is the last Sikh, while S. Kumar is the last Indian standing at the senior level, and going by current form, there will be none in the 2016 Junior World Cup, while 15-year-old Pavandip Singh Gurdip will most likely be the only non-Malay in the 2020 Junior World Cup as he has shown form in the ongoing National Under-16.
Something is very wrong at the grassroot as suddenly, non-Malays are no longer interested in a sport which they used to excel in, at World Cups and Olympics.
Jugjet Singh is a senior sports writer at the New Straits Times, a Malaysian newspaper. He also blogs on hockey at Jugjet’s World. This article, originally entitled Something smells rotten (23 March 2016), was first spotted here.
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