Axed Faizal on the hunt for the next hockey star

  • Hockey
  • Thursday, 19 Mar 2020

IPOH: Malaysian international Faizal Saari is on the hunt for the next big thing in hockey, as he goes nationwide to scout for the young players while sharing his skills with them.

After being omitted from the national training squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which has now been postponed, the player fondly known as Peja by his family members has gone to five schools and five clubs to train youngsters.

Instead of having a training centre in one place, Faizal, together with several partners, have decided that it is best to unearth talents by going nationwide.

For the striker, the journey has been fulfilling so far but has been stopped momentarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Going around and teaching youngsters has always been a passion of mine. Hockey has always been my heart and soul, and it is best to share that with people, ” said the 29-year-old, who has 247 caps and scored 170 goals since 2009.

“My first session was at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in Gombak, and we had 60 players. After that, we went to nine more spots, including five schools nationwide.

“Right now, due to the Covid-19 situation, we have stopped, but I am planning for more sessions once the situation gets better, ” he said.

Faizal said many were wondering if there would be talents to continue pushing the country’s team forward, but after his few sessions, he believes that the future looks secure.

“There were lots of talents, and I was impressed. It is my duty now to tap into them by polishing and refining their technique and skills.

“In some sessions, I trained the 18-year-olds and sometimes even played with them. It feels a little awkward because it reminds me of my national team days.

Last month, the Terengganu player aired his displeasure over national coach Roelant Oltmans’ decision to drop him and even said that he would not play for the national team as long as the Dutchman was the coach

Faizal, who loves the outdoors, admitted that the Government’s movement control order has affected his plans a little, but said that was no reason not to keep himself fit indoors.

“I have a treadmill at home, so I have a reason to run now. You can exercise indoors, so people cannot use the excuse that they cannot keep themselves fit during this period, ” said Faizal.

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