Friday, January 27, 2023

Up where we belong: Malaysia’s national hockey team breaks into Top 10

It’s taken a while. But Malaysia has finally reclaimed its place among the world’s elite hockey nations on the back of an impressive tour of the United Kingdom.

The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) had intended for the series of matches to boost the national team’s overall performance as well as propel it up the world rankings. And that’s exactly what our beloved Speedy Tigers did.

QNET has been a strategic partner of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation since 2015 and renewed its sponsorship again in 2020.

The team played a total of 10 games on tour, and match after match, the same commitment was shown, culminating eventually in two wins against Wales that shot Malaysia into the Top 10 for the first time in 18 years.

Heaping praise on the players, MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal was also quick to recognise the importance of the accomplishment to the country’s hockey landscape.

“This is good news for Malaysian hockey fans, as well as the MHC, as the last time we were in this position was in 2003-2004.”

Now, the challenge is to push on further and score bigger. And happily, for long-time supporters like us at QNET (by the way, did you know our managing director Kuna Senathirajah used to play district-level hockey in Perak?), the UK tour has revealed that our Tigers are more than capable.

Here are five lessons from the recent matches that should serve as an inspiration not only to the team in its future endeavours but to anyone aiming for success in life and business.

You may be down but never out

It’s not possible to succeed all the time. In fact, despite controlling large portions of the game, Malaysia’s first Test match on tour — against Ireland — saw the national side taste defeat. Yet coach A. Arul Selvaraj’s charges were determined to not let failure get in the way of their mission.

The result was a fiery, determined comeback in the return match that saw every player delivering.

Make every shot count

You don’t get many chances in a sport as fast-paced as modern field hockey. In fact, even the best of sides have been known to not capitalise on opportunities. This was, however, not the case in Malaysia’s return Test against Ireland.

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The side was awarded only three penalty corners in the match. But these were enough for short corner specialist Razie Rahim.

Leaders stand and deliver

A team is nothing without a capable person at the helm. And in Marhan Jalil, the Tigers have a captain who leads by example.

The veteran midfielder has over 200 caps and a truckload of accolades to his name. Yet every match on tour was approached with the same commitment and dedication.

“When the chips were down, he always had a way to push his teammates. In all the games, he has inspired them with his leadership,” said Coach Arul of his talismanic skipper.

Adaptability wins success

Like his captain, striker Faizal Saari is a seasoned campaigner. However, the 30-year-old marksman, who’s played up front since his international debut at age 18, had no trouble adapting to a new positional shift in the heart of the midfield.

Indeed, his fine performances, particularly in Malaysia’s matches against Wales, have shown Faizal to be thriving in his new role.

Focus on what you can control

Malaysia’s first win on tour — against Beeston HC — saw the side being stuck in a massive traffic jam en route to the match venue. However, instead of letting external factors influence their preparation, Coach Arul’s players put on a sterling display.

In fact, their focus showed the gaffer that his charges have the mental fortitude to achieve great things.


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