MALACCA: After a two-year lull, the local hockey scene has picked up momentum with the winning of the prestigious Razak Cup, the appointment of S. Velappan as 1MAS coach and Malacca Hockey Circle’s (MHC) involvement in sponsorship and development of the game at the primary school level.
With a youthful side to lean on, inclusive of four senior players, Velappan did the Malacca Hockey Assocaition (MHA) proud by beating favourites Perak 1-0 in the final.
Malacca’s triumph comes after victory in the 2005 series where Velappan was also in charge.
Recently the Malaysian Hockey Confederation picked Velappan as one of its coaches for its long-term junior development programme to produce a steady stream of high calibre players equipped for high performance duty in international hockey.
On the Razak Cup success, MHA’s newly-elected president Habibul Ajmi Manggar said: “We are rather surprised and at the same time pleased that underdogs Malacca which was up against much fancied opponents such as Perak, Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu and Johor, made it all the way to reach the final and triumph.”
The young side for the Razak Cup is being groomed for this year’s Sukma Games in Sarawak.
The Razak Cup triumph augurs well for our chances to bag the gold in Sukma, which has eluded the state all this while.
“We had a good shot at the gold medal in the 2012 Sukma hosted by Malacca but our well-prepared side which was listed as favourites only managed a bronze”.
Apart from capturing the Razak Cup, B, Namasivayam bagged the tournament’s Best Player award while Dedi Ariyadi was named the Player of the Final. Malacca’s latest Razak Cup triumph is its third in the series.
The state also picked up honours in 2006 and 2009 while Malacca was the Razak Cup Division Two winners in 2012.
Velappan, 52, is Malacca’s most successful hockey coach.
Apart from taking his state to Razak Cup honours in 2005, he also coached Johor to bag top honours in the series in 2007.
On the national front, Velappan handled UNI Kuala Lumpur to capture the Junior National Hockey League honours in 2011 and the National B team to win gold at the South-East Asia Cup tournament in the same year.
He is now sharing his expertise and experience with primary schoolteacher R.Vickneswaran, 29, who has been nurturing a group of primary pupils from SJK (T) Paya Rumput for about four years.
Vickneswaran is currently teaching at SJK (T) Bukit Lintang in Jasin and conducts twice weekly training stints at the Bukit Serendit Hockey Stadium and the Malacca High School artificial pitch.
About twenty players attend the training sessions.
Meanwhile, MHC was formed last year under the charge of former national senior and junior player M. Selvanathan and comprises former state players, coaches, administrators, officials, umpires and supporters in efforts to assist the MHA in local hockey development.
Recently, MHC sponsored RM5,000 worth of hockey apparel, sticks, jerseys, boots as well as kit and gear for SJK(T) Paya Rumput hockey team.
Selvanathan said the sponsorship undertaken by former state stalwart Richard Tan Hock Seng is the first of its kind.
The MHC is also on the lookout for other primary schools, particularly in the districts which are keen on venturing into hockey, with build-up of school sides as its prime focus.
Already, SJK (T) Paya Rumput has set the pace for MHC’s endeavours.
The school emerged among the top three teams at the 2015 Kuantan, Kluang, Kuala Pilah Open Under-12 tourneys with Arupatha Rajan, Harish Kumar, Sharan Kumar and Pradeep Singh making it into the Malacca Schools Under-12 team for national age-group competitions.