I’ll be better than my idol Juliani, says Sabah junior Nor Asfarina

KUALA LUMPUR: Juliani Mohd Din is a seasoned campaigner in the national women’s hockey team, having represented Malaysia 180 times in the last 14 years. At 34, the defender from Kota Belud, Sabah, was in the team that won the indoor hockey gold at the SEA Games last year, and is still going strong.

It’s a record hard to match but youngster Nor Asfarina Ishyifiqa Isahhidun wants to not only match it – she wants to better it.

The 19-year-old defender Nor Asfarina, who was called up for national junior training in early March, said that Juliani has been her idol since she was 11.

“Juliani is one of the top women defenders in the country and she is one of the reasons I took up hockey seven years ago while studying at the Pekan Keningau primary school.

“I am proud of her achievements as a national hockey team player and also that she is a Sabahan. But I want to do better than Juliani in the national team, ” said Nor Asfarina.

“I not only want to marshall the defence but I also want to be a good penalty corner drag flicker in the national team.

“I was called up for national junior training in March because I could score goals from drag flicks in the domestic tournaments.

“There are only one or two drag flickers in the national team and one of them, national captain Siti Noor (Amarina Ruhani), who was the penalty corner specialist, retired in March.

“Now, I am ready to step in. But first, I have to fight for a place in the Junior Asia Cup in Kakamigahara, Japan, which is a qualifying tournament for next year’s Junior World Cup (in Potchefstroom, South Africa), ” said Nor Asfarina.

The Junior Asia Cup was scheduled for April but has been postponed.

Nor Asfarina said she must thank three of her primary school teachers – Setiawan Sutopo, Mohd Aminuddin Ibrahim and Mohd Fahmi Husen – who encouraged her to take up hockey.

“I am quite satisfied with my progress in hockey since I started playing for Sabah Sports School in the Malaysian Women’s Junior League in 2016.

“Two years later, I featured for Malaysia in the Olympic Youth qualifying tournament in Bangkok but we failed to qualify for the Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2018.

“I will continue to improve my game and drag flicks, ” said Nor Asfarina, who played for Sabah in the National Women’s League in January and netted three penalty corner goals.

Nor Asfarina, who is doing her pre-university studies at Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) in Johor, said she was supposed to play for SSTMI in the Malaysian Women’s Junior League, which was scheduled for March but has been postponed to September.

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