KUALA LUMPUR: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
So, hats off to the Malaysian underwater hockey team who will pay their own way to compete in the Philippines SEA Games from Nov 30-Dec 11.
Each player will fork out RM2,500 for their flight tickets and six-day accommodation in Manila.
Underwater hockey, also known as Octopush, is played at the bottom of a swimming pool with two teams competing to manoeuvre a puck with a hockey stick into the opposing team’s goal.
This is the first time underwater hockey is contested in the SEA Games. The sport offers four gold medals – the men and women’s six-on-six and i men and women’s four-on-four events.
A total of 24 players (12 men and 12 women) will feature in the Games.
Malaysia Underwater Hockey Association (MUHA) president Ishmael Fadullah Ho Wen Xiong, who will double up as the captain of the men’s team at the Games, said the sport took root in Malaysia eight years ago.
“I learnt to play the game when I was studying at the Aberystwyth University in England 10 years ago. When I returned home in 2011, I started the sport in Malaysia,” said Ishmael.
The association, however, were only formed two years ago by Roshan Babu, who is the deputy president and head coach.
Underwater hockey was only registered as a sport with the Sport Commissioner in March this year.
Ishmael said the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) were impressed with the dedication and commitment of the team and agreed to send them under Category B.
“We’ve more than 40 players training at the PJ Sports Centre but we lack international exposure,” he admitted.
“We finished last among 14 teams in a tournament in Manila in March but we’re not disheartened.
“Eight players from Aberystwyth University will arrive in August to help train us.”
Besides Malaysia, the other participating countries are Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.
“The Philippines start as the favourites for the gold medals. Singapore and Indonesia are set to pose strong challenges but we hope to return with a bronze medal,” said Ishmael, who will be going to Singapore with the team on June 23 to play a three-nation tournament with the hosts and Indonesia.
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