Khairy (centre) launching the same tournament last year.
Hwa Beng invites the public to watch the matches at Sunway Pyramid.
YOUTH and sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin will officiate the opening ceremony of the Malaysian Invitational Ice Hockey Tournament at the Sunway Pyramid Ice today.
The four-day championships is organised by the Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation (MIHF). A total of 27 teams will be in action in six divisions — Under-11, Under-13, Under-16, Women, Asian and International.
MIHF president Datuk Lee Hwa Beng said they were grateful to the sports minister for being part of the opening ceremony.
“We have planned an exciting event. We are expecting the public to come and watch the matches.
“The sports minister had also attended last year’s championships and was impressed with our efforts in promoting the sport,’’ said Hwa Beng.
The championships, organised by the MIHF for the sixth season, has grown into an international one. Teams from Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines will add foreign flavour to the championships.
About 200 foreign ice hockey players are involved in the championships.
Hwa Beng said about 100 parents had accompanied their children for the competition.
“With the inclusion of the Malaysian teams, about 500 players, parents, and supporters are involved in the championships,’’ he added.
The championships, with focus on development, is an excellent platform for the MIHF to expose their players to competitive matches.
MIHF secretary Susan Loh said their vision was to cultivate and nurture Malaysian ice hockey players through holistic planning.
“The championships will also give us the opportunity to gauge our players’ progress against players in the region.
“Our long-term plan is to prepare our players to participate in International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournaments,” she added
The MIHF is an associate member of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and IIHF. Malaysia, with Hwa Beng playing an active role, has started several training and development programmes.
Besides organising championships, MIHF has also taken part in the Asian Winter Games in 2007 and 2011 in Changchun, China and Astaka, Kazakhstan respectively.
The MIHF is in the midst of identifying new talents for the Asian Winter Games in 2017.
“We have seen an increase in the number of ice hockey players in the Klang Valley. Parents have been very supportive towards our plans,’’ said Susan.
A total of 63 games will be played. The finals will be from 1pm on Saturday.