KUALA LUMPUR: Persistence will pay off for national junior hockey forward Hafifi Hafiz. He has been dropped from the squad a few times but the 19-year-old player never gave up.
And after almost a year in trying to make the grade, Hafifi can look forward to donning national colours in the six-nation junior invitational tournament, which begins on Sunday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil here.
The Perak lad said yesterday that it was a relief to learn that he would be considered for selection.
“The coach (Sarjit Singh) told me that he was satisfied with my performance in training and said that I should be among the 18 players for the tournament,” said Hafifi.
“I have been trying my best to make the squad since the Junior Asia Cup in Karachi last April. It will be great if I make it this time. Hockey has always been my favourite sport.”
Besides the Junior Asia Cup, Hafifi was also dropped from the side for the Razak Cup last November and also the tour of India the following month.
Hafifi, who took up hockey at the age of 10, started out playing for his school in Sitiawan before getting a call-up for Ipoh's Anderson School in the Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL) in 2002 and 2003. His good performances in the MJHL earned him a call-up to join national training last year and he also featured for Tenaga Nasional.
Sarjit said yesterday that Hafifi had done well in training.
“Hafifi has proven himself and he has the potential to be in the team for the invitational tournament,” he said.
However, Hafifi has to fight for a regular place in the forwardline. The key forwards in the team include Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Ismail Abu, S. Selvaraju and Norikram Sulaiman.
The National Juniors are preparing for the Junior World Cup Finals, which will be held in Rotterdam from June 29-July 10.
In the six-nation tournament, Malaysia will open their campaign against Pakistan on Sunday. Their other opponents are India, South Korea, England and Germany.
In the World Cup Finals, they are drawn in Group B with Germany, Argentina and South Africa.