PETALING JAYA: Do not for a second think of trying to out-muscle pint-sized Faiz Helmi Jali on the hockey pitch.
He is only 156cm (5’1”) tall but he’s never daunted by his frame as the 28-year-old veteran stands tall as a defender in the national team.
And Faiz can certainly measure up to national coach A. Arulselvaraj’s demand that experienced players have to step up and be noticed as possible leaders to the rest.
He does not have the muscular frame of a defender but he makes up for it with his movement, interceptions and – definitely – his communication.
Faiz is one of the loudest players on the pitch and often keeps teammates on their toes with his bellowing.
And he’s not one to think that too many leaders in the team may spoil team cohesion.
“I think it is good that the coach is relying on several players to be the leaders of the side. He is not just relying on one but wants many to be part of the decision making and leadership process, ” said the Johorean.
“I guess with more leaders on the pitch, the instructions on the field would be much clearer. Also, it keeps your mates alert when you shout instructions to them. It’s good if you ask me.”
Faiz is part of the 30-men team training for the Asian Champions Trophy which will be held in March next year in Bangladesh.
Having played in the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, Faiz hopes to be around for the next World Cup in 2023 in India. Malaysia must reach the semi-finals of the Asia Cup to earn a place in the World Cup.
“Our chance looks good. We are ranked second in Asia. However, we have not played international hockey for quite a while, I think for almost a year now. We have yet to face the likes of India, Pakistan, Japan, and South Korea.
“We do not know what would happen, but I guess the unpredictability is good. Whoever gets into the semis will be at the 2023 World Cup. But first we have to do well in the Champions Trophy before thinking of the Asia and World Cup.”