Podium scheme next for national hockey team?

Malaysian players celebrate after beating India on Thursday. ― Malay Mail pic
Malaysian players celebrate after beating India on Thursday. ― Malay Mail pic

PETALING JAYA, June 24 — Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) hope the national hockey team will be considered for the Podium Programme after qualifying for next year’s World Cup.

Although ranked among the top 14 nations in the world, hockey was a controversial omission from the Podium Programme, which is a tailor-made and scientifically prepared agenda for a select group of athletes to give them an edge to win medals at the Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games.

MHC president Datuk Subahan Kamal said besides qualifying for the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, the team have much potential.

He was so confident they would qualify for the World Cup that Subahan promised to quit if they failed to book their ticket to India.

“I can guarantee you this is just the beginning. They will be more surprises from our boys,” he promised.

“I want us to be included in the Podium Programme. I’m not saying this because they booked a spot in the World Cup. They have tremendous potential.

“If we are in the Podium Programme, it would elevate hockey in Malaysia.”

Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said his ministry will consider MHC’s request after the SEA Games in August.

“We are in the World Cup now on merit, and don’t worry we are always here for support,” he said.

“As for the Podium Programme, we have always practised an open door policy. If a certain sport proves itself, we can always add them.

“We will discuss this in September.”

Separately, Subahan who took up the president’s post two years ago, said there were three things he wanted to achieve.

First, to streamline the management of MHC. Second to qualify in the World Cup and lastly to participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

The last time Malaysia qualified for the Olympics was at the 2000 Sydney Games where they finished 11th.

“It wasn’t an easy journey and I would like to thank the team and management for making it happen.

“I’m confident if we continue working together we can achieve all goals,” he said.

Commenting on the national woman’s hockey squad who lost 3-1 against Spain on Thursday, Subahan said they put up a good fight.

“This is just their first appearance in the Hockey World League SemiFinals (in Brussels). Despite being new, they put up a good fight against top countries.

“We are really proud of their achievement,” he said.

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