KUALA LUMPUR: The national women’s hockey team received a huge financial boost following a whopping RM600,000 sponsorship deal for the Asia Cup hockey tournament, which begins this Saturday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Construction company Semai Ria Sdn Bhd will contribute RM500,000 while the Youth and Sports Ministry will chip in RM100,000.
The half a million ringgit is the largest sponsorship that the national women’s hockey team have ever received from the private sector.
Eight teams will feature in the eighth edition of the Asia Cup. Malaysia are in Group A with defending champions China, India and Hong Kong while Group B comprises Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) deputy president Raja Puan Sri Datuk Noora Ashikin Raja Abdullah thanked Semai Ria Sdn Bhd for their generous sponsorship, saying it would boosted the national team’s morale ahead of the tournament.
“We have set them a target of finishing in the top four and we are confident that they can do it,” she said.
Semai Ria managing director Lim Ee Keong said that they are sponsoring the women’s team because “they have a chance to progress in the sport”.
“We’re happy to be part of the women’s Asia Cup ... we hope our sponsorship will spur the national team to perform beyond expectations.
“We also hope the women will emulate the men’s team and qualify for the 2014 World Cup (in The Hague, Holland from May 31-June 15),” said Ee Keong.
The national men’s team have made the cut for the World Cup after a 12-year hiatus but the women’s team have never featured in the World Cup.
China, Japan and South Korea have qualified for the women’s World Cup and Malaysia need to win the Asia Cup to feature in it.
The national women’s team lost 1-0 to Japan in a friendly on Tuesday.