MHC draws enhanced NHDP strategies to create future hockey stars

SERDANG — A decade after the 1Mas Hockey Programme was introduced with the aim of producing more grassroots players, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) is now close to launch the enhanced National Hockey Development Programme.

The 1Mas Hockey Programme had its own success stories, like producing young bloods such as Mohamad Akhimullah Anuar Esook, Muhammad Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal and Muhammad Noor Firdaus Rosdi , to play in the national senior team, as well as fragilities before the programme, initially planned for five years, was discontinued in 2018 due to funding issues and NHDP was introduced the same year.

It was learned that the upscale version of NHDP, a collaborative between the MHC, National Sports Council (NSC), Ministry of Education (MOE) and State Hockey Associations (HA), will run with about RM2 million budget a year, to be in line with the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) and the National Rugby Development Programme (NRDP).

With the experiences from the 1Mas Programme, MHC deputy president Prof Dr Datuk S. Shamala said the national hockey governing body is enhancing the NHDP for a greater outcome, which is to have a strong foundation of feeder players to represent the Speedy Tigers squad in the future.

It was projected that about 3,800 to 4,000 boys and girls in the age group of under (U) – 12, U-14 and U-16 will get a chance to play, train and compete systematically in the NHDP centres, mostly in schools, managed by 16 affiliates of MHC, including the Armed Forces and Police.

In this regard, MHC had organised a workshop over the past three days to brainstorm and gather feedbacks from its affiliates before the expected launch by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican in early September.

Among the flaws that had been identified from the previous programme are evaluation and monitoring of the programme and selection of players, which MHC let the local centre coordinators decide, while the programme itself wasn’t widely known to the masses.

“After getting feedback from the workshop, among the aspects that will be enhanced is the monitoring with the help of the social media, ensure standard is at good level, increase the ratio of coaches to players, open selection for players and create avenue for them to play more competitive matches, not necessarily a grand tournament, even a friendly with nearby schools or other centres.

“Each state will have one or more centres based on the geographical conditions, where the Armed Forces and the police (PDRM) will also do their part. We have received a good suggestion from the  Armed Forces, to adopt SK TUDM Subang, a school located at the Subang Airport as a NHDP centre, while the police is still looking into ways to serve.

“In terms of evaluation, our new technical director,  to be appointed soon, will constantly need to be in touch with the centre coordinators and coaches, and is responsible to ensure the coaches understand the level of hockey we are expecting  and is in line with the national team’s philosophy,” she told Bernama when met at the University Putra Malaysia (UPM) Sports Academy, recently.

Shamala said apart from creating bigger pool of players for the national team, NHDP is also crucial to groom players for 5-a-side hockey to compete in tournaments like Youth Olympics Games, where Malaysia won a gold medal at the 2018 Buenos Aires.

Shamala, who heads the NHDP technical committee in designing the programme, said the existing 1Mas centres located in schools will continue under the rebranded programme, with the coaches also required to conduct open selection for players and scout players from other schools within their zones.

Meanwhile, the coaches, who are part-timers, are expected to receive a lower salary as the MHC is set to follow the National Coaching Academy’s (NCA) fixed scales, instead of using the previous method of report card based payment.

“But if we identify good coaches, we will accelerate the upscaling with the coaching committee to have courses for them till level two. The knowledge of sports science is also important for them,” she added.