KUALA LUMPUR: Politeknik Johor believe they are on the right track to build a strong hockey team for the future.
In 2010 they made their debut in the MHC-Milo-NSC Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and subsequently went on to win the Division Two title. This year, they emerged Division Two champions again after beating Bukit Jalil Sports Schools (BJSS) 2-1 in the final.
And earlier last month, the Pasir Gudang-based team reached the final of SUKIP (Institute of Higher Learning Games) where they lost 0-1 to Universiti Malaya.
“Ours is a long-term plan and we are taking one year at a time to develop the team. The success this year has shown us that we are indeed heading in the right direction. But there is a lot of hard work ahead. We want to be the hockey development centre for the Education Ministry,” said Mohamed Rafi Solaiman, Politeknik Johor’s head of the sports unit.
“Our players come from all the polytechnics in the country and we also encourage new students who are interested in furthering their hockey career to join our college. We have a year-round training programme. And we allow our players to play for other clubs in local or national competitions.
“The players can only improve by playing quality matches. If they get a chance to compete in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), we will encourage them to take up the offer with other clubs.
“So far, we have only taken part in the MJHL. But we hope to field a team in Division One of the MHL next season. We want to be ready for the challenge and that is why we also take the opportunity to play in state leagues and competitions. There is nothing like competition to hone the players’ skills,” added Rafi.
Former international forward Chairil Anwar is one of the coaches who is helping Politeknik Johor be a force in hockey.
On Monday, the senior Politeknik team will represent Malaysia in the Hockey Festival in Doha at the invitation of the Qatar Hockey Association.
“It is a good chance for us to further expose our players,” said Rafi.
At present, Politeknik Johor have to train at Taman Daya Hockey Stadium as they do not have an artificial turf.
Rafi hopes that one day they will get their own artificial pitch.
“Our budget comes for the Education Ministry and it is not that big. But we have managed so far and we will try to be innovative. We are here to stay,” he added.
Politeknik Johor have made the quarter-finals in the MJHL. They trail favourites Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) 2-3 after the first leg on Friday. On Sunday, the two teams will play the second leg at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
“Whatever happens in the quarter-finals today, we are still pleased to have come this far. The team can only get better in the future. We will play in Division One of the MJHL next season. We are actually excited about the prospect of playing against the bigger teams on a regular basis,” said Rafi.