KUALA LUMPUR: The Project 2016 team have made a U-turn and agreed to release their players to feature in Division One of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), which starts on March 16.
The team have also decided not to field a team in Division One as it will not be beneficial to them.
The decision was made after the team management committee meeting, chaired by Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmed, on Thursday.
The Project 2016 team had initially barred their players from taking part in Division One as they wanted to field a team.
Nur Azmi said the decision was taken after a review of the team’s training programme.
“Although we have released the players to feature for the various clubs, the decision comes with a commitment from the teams. They will have to release the players for training three times a week,” said Nur Azmi.
“We hope to pick about 24 to 30 players when the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) ends on March 9. This list (selected players) will be given to the teams and they’ll have to let the players train with the national coaches every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This is something we have done before. I’m sure the clubs will have no problems with this arrangement.”
Project 2016 team manager Mirnawan Nawawi said that they decided not to field a team as it would mean taking the players away from their clubs.
“Quite a number of schools and states are putting up teams in Division One and these players come from their ranks. So, we do not want to disrupt the teams’ plans and deprive them of their services,” he said.
Instead, the Project 2016 team will seek the MHC executive board’s consent to field a team in the Razak Cup tournament and the Premier Division of the MHL, which will be held later this year.
“The standard of these two tournaments is higher ... there will be quality matches. In the Premier Division, we will also be going up against foreign players. So, that will be better in terms of gaining experience,” said Mirnawan, who added that the two competitions will help prepare them for the Sultan of Johor Cup in November.
“We are just getting off the blocks in our preparations ... the target for this team is next year’s Junior Asia Cup, which is the qualifying meet for the 2016 Junior World Cup.”