KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) are looking way into the future. They have decided to form a new national team for players aged under 12. The plan is to start them young and prepare them as the feeder squad for future junior sides and, later, the senior national team.
The first batch of 30 trainees will be selected after the MSSM hockey meet, which will be held in Kuantan from March 23-29.
The MHF have named Bandar Penawar coach Lukman Saadon as chief coach of the Under-12 team and he will be asked to prepare a training programme with emphasis on skills development.
MHF secretary S. Satgunam said yesterday that this was the first time the MHF had embarked on a national project for the Under-12 age group.
“It has been identified that the skills level at this age group level is not good enough and more effort is needed here.
“The time has come for us to look at the Under-12 players and provide expert help. These are the players who will be expected to come through the ranks of our other age-group teams. We will also try and select some players who are 13 or 14 for the initial squad,'' he said.
The MHF already have the Under-16, Under-19, national junior and senior teams under their fold. The Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) also have a national Under-18 team.
Satgunam said co-ordination of the various teams was needed.
“Each team must complement each other. The lower-age group must work as a feeder to the higher age group. That way, we will ensure that the players coming through are properly trained,'' he said.
Satgunam said more coaches would be identified and appointed to assist Lukman.
“Our coaches in the national set-up will be in Kuantan to help Lukman pick the first batch of trainees. The programme for this group will be decided later,” he added.
Bandar Penawar is the second sports school in the country after Bukit Jalil.