Following this blog's disclosure with regards to UniKL approach towards the MHL, they have responded with a written reply which I am more then happy to publish. Below is the statement:
This statement is made to clarify matters that were raised in several blogs recently regarding the coaching position, player recruitment and development plan of UniKL hockey club. I really hope that matters raised here will not take the highlight of the ongoing test matches involving the national senior and junior team with the New Zealand national team.
1. Post-Mortem Premier League 2009/10 and Junior League 2010
The progress made by the junior players in the squad has not met the desired level especially in the Junior League 2010 provided the opportunity and exposure given to the, during Premier League 2009/10 season. None of the Project 2013 players in the squad get the call up to train with the national team and only a few of the non-Project 2013 got the call up to train with the Project 2013 squad.
Hence, the management has embarked into some drastic approaches which include increasing competition in training, changing the coaching approach, use of latest technology, youth development program (age-group) and establishment of the “Sport Excellence Center”. A 5-year blueprint has been developed in June and got the endorsement from the top management.
2. Coaching Position
I.Vikneswaran (Vik) was part of the team that developed the 5-year blueprint. Initially in February 2010, Vik indicated to the management of his intention to leave the team to explore other opportunities. In search of a new coach, the management has identified Darren Smith, the current New Zealand National Assistant Coach as the most suitable candidate to replace Vik. However Vik changed his mind just before the start of the Junior League therefore the proposal to bring Darren in was abandoned.
However, Vik’s professional decision to join Sapura the week after Hari Raya holidays has caused the management to revive the process to recruit Darren to coach the UniKL Hockey team. An official offer was made and accepted by Darren. He will assume the Head Coach position after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games. He will be assisted by the current Assistant Coach, K. Enbaraj.
3. Intensifying Competition / Role Model for Junior Players
The management has decided to recruit a few established national players and imports to boost competition and also inculcating conducive culture by them becoming role model to the junior players. The management has identified players that will form the spine of the team and will lead the development in the four main positions – goalkeeper, defense, midfield and forward.
To date, Baljit Singh Charun Singh and Selvaraju Sandrakasi (former employers or TNB) have joined UniKL and soon will be joined by a goalkeeper from New Zealand, a defender/midfielder from Germany (with Malaysian roots) and maybe another midfielder from New Zealand. Together with the regulars from previous season’s squad, they will form the spine of the team while being backed up by new junior recruits.
4. Junior Players
UniKL registered six (6) junior players for the previous 2009/10 Premier League. This year (2010/11 Premier League), a record 14 junior players (Under-19) will be registered with eight (8) actually being promoted from the Junior League’s overall champion team. Of the 14 junior players, nine (9) are Under-18 players that will form the spine of next year’s Junior League team. The exposure and experience they will gain from training and playing in this year’s Premier League will increase the quality of the junior player pool developed by UniKL.
5. Development Program
As a continuous development effort, UniKL will also embark into age-group hockey development program. The program that will be launched soon will complement the 1MAS development program that is being spearheaded by MHF. More information will be provided later on this program.
6. Student Involvement
UniKL is recruiting the current junior players to also become student of UniKL. For long-term measure, UniKL will use the age-group development program to recruit more players to become student-athlete of UniKL and provide them with the necessary support with includes academic guidance program, sport scholarship, accommodation, exposure to high-quality training and technology.
With this clarification, the claim that UniKL has given up on its objective to develop the future of Malaysian hockey is really uncalled for. This year’s Premier League squad has a lower average age (20) compare to last year’s team (22) but with an overall better quality players. UniKL accepts the increase in expectation due to the inclusion of foreign coach/players and two (2) national players but the underlying reason behind all this is still the development of the junior players that will one day become the aspiration for Malaysian hockey revival.
AMIR AZHAR IBRAHIM
Manager, UniKL Hockey Team
Senior Corporate Planning Manager
Head Corporate Affairs Division
Universiti Kuala Lumpur