KUALA LUMPUR: Yayasan Negri Sembilan (YNS) is a name associated with hockey success. They won the double when the Malaysia Junior Hockey League was first started in 1995. They have also won the senior league and overall title several times.
But that's all in the past. The team that will play in Division One of the MHF-Milo-NSC-Admiral Junior Hockey League this year is far from champion material.
By their own admission, YNS are not in the same league as the big teams as they are have decided to rely on home-grown players. And they will be glad just to stay in Division One.
Coach S. Chandran said they do not have a top class side for the league this year.
“We have not hired any guest players but will rely on our own Negri-born players. Our target is to groom a good team for the Sukma next year, which we will host. All the players are in our training squad and the experience here will benefit them greatly,'' he said yesterday.
YNS finished 10th last year. They have retained 10 players from the squad and they will form the core of the team.
The players retained from last year are P. Suresh, Zaharuddin Janhari, M. Saravanan, Benedict Salvaraj, Rozaisham Pilus, Arribin Sha Harun, Shawn Das, Nor Shahrizal, Mohamed Hassnul Hassan and Mohamed Faiz.
Chandran said a number of the players had also played in the Champions Schools meet last year and the Under-21 tournament last month.
“There are some players with experience. But I do not think that it is enough to match the big guns. I'm not overly concerned with that but as long as the players improve with each game, I'll be happy.
In the past, YNS often hired guest players to beef up the team for the challenge. But those days are over.
“We have to give the young players a chance to play at national level. All of us here at the YNS have the same objective – to ensure that Negri players have enough exposure at national level,'' said Chandran.
YNS will begin their campaign with an away match against Terengganu Schools Sports Council on Saturday. Last year, both teams played in the same group and the east coast side won 3-2.
Thus, YNS have revenge on their minds as well.
“We have to get good results against teams that are of our standard. That is the only way we can meet our target of staying in Division One.”