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Friday May 11, 2012

Riverine style opening of 7th Junior Asia Cup in Malacca

Malacca: Unlike the customary stadium stage march past and flag raising routines, Historic Malacca and also UNESCO heritage status city adopted an unique riverine scenario and setting for the official opening of the seventh-edition of the Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament currently ongoing at the Bukit Serendit Hockey Stadium until May 13.

On a cool balmy night, the Yang Di Pertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaacob declared the 11-day tourney open at a specially erected stage at the Malacca River Square amidst much traditionally flavoured pomp and fanfare coupled with Malacca’s warm hospitality.

Among the other local dignatries gracing the event included Datuk Gan Tian Loo, the state executive councillor for youth, sports and education who also stood in for Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam who was away on official duty, Datuk Md Yunus the state executive councillor for local government, housing and environment and also Malacca Hockey Association president, Datuk Azmi Ahmad senior vice president of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) and Raja Puan Sri Raja Noora Ashikin Raja Abdullah the MHC deputy president.

Here we come: The Indian team coming up the Malacca River.

Prior to the official opening ceremony, the eight participating teams comprising players and respective team officials of China, Korea, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, India and Malaysia made their entrance seated in gaily decorated Malacca River cruise ferries. Tournament as well as organising committee officials were also ferried down the river which offered splendid night views of the state’s historic sites and landmarks situated on either banks.

Their refreshing river sojourn began uptown at the Padang Rempah Jetty some 4km up the Malacca River estuary and wound up at the Shahbandar Jetty adjacent to the Malacca River Square.The players and officials on disembarking, then marched along a carpeted aisle with the kompang, tabala, gendang, gong and traditional Chinese drum beating troupes on either flanks rendering deafening rhythmic beats. Following the ‘march down the aisle’, traditionally costumed clad escorts ledplayers and officials to ten canopied tents to be seated.

Following addresses by Md Yunus and Gan, Khalil had officially declared the first ever international level hockey tournament hosted by the state open.

Makan time: The Iranian hockey players enjoying themselves tasing typical Malacca hawker fare.

Then, a youth clad in a flying fox costume came zooming onto the stage via a cable-pulley link to present the head of state with a gold coloured hockey stick. He then stroked a hockey ball into a mini goal on stage which then triggered the sparking and lighting up of the tournament’s logo and emblem montage on a specially designed light box sited on the right side of the VIP canopy

Some 500 invited guests and members of the local sporting public were on hand to witness proceedings complete with a fireworks finale. At the conclusion of the hour long proceedings, one and all were treated to typical Malacca hawker food fare dinner buffet. Foreign players and officials were seen making a beeline to the various stalls offering local delights and had a grand ‘eat as much as you want’ time.

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