In September last year, two national women players, Fazilla Slyvester Silin and Siti Amarina Ruhaini left for Spain to gain exposure playing in the Spanish Hockey League, a bold move by two girls who wanted to do their bit to ensure Malaysian women's hockey was on the right track.
This blog featured the duo but after that no news was forthcoming as some officials within MHC had prevented this blog from updating the hockey fans on the progress made by the two players. However thanks to the assistance from a friend, this blog managed to get the updates over the last two days and featured below is the account of their coach and the two players as well as the background of the club.
I do hope that the mainstream media will feature the gallant efforts of these two players so that the rest of the country will be able to read what they have achieved and credit to these two players for their foresight and willingness to venture abroad so that in the end its Malaysian hockey that benefits.
About the Club : CASTELLDEFELS HOCKEY CLUB
This Club was formed only in 1995, so its progression has been amazing. They gained promotion from National Women´s League 3 to National Women´s League 2 in the 2009-2010 season. And it did not stop there as they were promoted to National Women´s League 1 for the 2010-2011season. Although last season (2011-2012) they were relegated from National Women´s League 1 to National Women´s League 2, the club managed to move back into the top flight for next year.
Upon relegation last year, a target was set for this season to gain promotionfor the National League 1. And in order to achieve this, a new coach, Juan Manuel Mas Ortiz, who was the former U16 coach of the Spanish women and former Singapore National Team Coach,was hired, together with two former Olympic Spanish players in Esther Termens and Lara Domenech.
It was he who decided to sign on two Malaysian internationals - Siti Amarina Ruhani and Fazilla Sylvester Silin. Both are 26 years old with Siti having 77 international caps and Fazilla 69 caps.
And the end results have been great, for the Club is currently runners-up of the National League 2, and have ensured the promotion to National League 1 (top 2 promote), and can emerge as Champions if they win the last two games.
Notably the team is the highest scoring team in the league with 95 goals in 16 games and still have another 2 games remaining; overall.
It has been a fantastic season, with all the members and people of the Club are very excited with the team and the future.
Question: What does the coach think of these two players and their contribution to the team?
Ortiz: I think that they have contributed a lot with their international experience, their skills and quality and the team has been rewarded with a very good results for it.
Question: Will you want the two Malaysian players back for next season?
Ortiz: I think both parties would really love but we think that they have first to finish their studies, maybe when they finish it could happen again.
Question: When will the next season run and what is the duration?
Ortiz: The next season, in the National Women´s League 1 will start in October 2013, and will finish in May 2014 (season 2013-2014)
Question: How has the two Malaysian players fared and how have they contributed?
Ortiz: Siti has been an impressive center back, our key player in defence, and also in the PC set pieces. Fazilla has been our best forward together with Lara Domenech, amazing performances both of them. Fazilla has scored 25 goals this season.
Question: Will they be in your plan for the coming years?
Ortiz: I would like to think YES! But I respect their decision to try to finish their studies first, and after that, only time will tell.
Question: Do you think other Malaysian players can play in the league?
Ortiz: Yes definitely yes, I have to negotiate now with MHC again, to see if for next season another two National players from Malaysia can join our squad, which will feature in the top League of Spain, National League 1. Really other players also can feature in the League, but Clubs prefer to bring players from Argentina because they can speak Spanish and it´s easier to adapt.
Question: How can Malaysia go about getting more players to play there?
Ortiz: I would like to thank Dr S. Shamala and the Malaysian Hockey Confederation for their help, the spirit and the cooperation that we have had together. I really hope to continue with our agreements, which benefit for both parties. The Malaysian players have been amazing in all sense and a future collaboration will provide continual benefits as well.
QUESTION FOR THE PLAYERS
Question: How has the experience been?
SITI: I gained invaluable experience playing in the league as it gave me an opportunity to play alongside two ex Spanish internationals as well as the budding players.
ZILA: i really had a great fun and gained experience staying and playing with this club. I had the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills especially from the experinced players in the team.
Question: How much of a difference is it playing in Europe compared to back home?
SITI: In my opinion, here in Europe there is much club hockey and quality many players.
ZILA: There is a lot of difference because here in Spain they have a lot of very competitive games to play.
Question: How many goals have you two scored?
SITI: 3 goals
ZILA: 25 goals
Question: What next for both of you? Have you decided to stay on, or head back home?
SITI: We are heading back to Malaysia as we have to prepare for next tournament with our national team.
ZILA: We have to go back home. We both have to finish our studies first and also have to focus on the next international tournament. We love to come back to play again with the club, but we still have to finish our studies first.
Question: What were the biggest challenge you faced playing in Spain?
SITI: For me was the opponent, as some players from some club play very robust hockey, But I have learnt to manage it and it is a good challenge for me to improve myself.
ZILA: The biggest challenge for me was just the language barrier. But yes, I still have to try and understand some words that is quite important to use during playing.
Question: What are you thoughts on having a womens league in KL?
SITI: Yes, I really do hope that Malaysia has a hockey league for women teams.
ZILA: I am really looking forward to have a womens league in KL.
Question: And what will the benefits be by having such a league?
SITI: We should have one league at least to help increase the quality of womens hockey.
ZILA: To have a league is a great idea to create a positive competitive environment to improve the quality of hockey for the Malaysian team. Through the league also we can produce more talented players.
Question: Anything else you wish to add on?
SITI: I hope this club or maybe other club in Europe will also give more room for other players from Malaysia to play and gain experience playing in the high quality of league.
ZILA: I hope there are more opportunities for us, players from Malaysia to play with European hockey clubs and as such be exposed to high quality hockey games.
BACKGROUND; STORY WHEN THEY LEFT FOR SPAIN
BACKGROUND; STORY WHEN THEY LEFT FOR SPAIN
Two Malaysian players intend to give a good account in the World League Round One in Kuantan before leaving to play in the Spanish League next month.
The duo – Siti Noor Amarina Ruhaini and Fazilla Slyvester Silin have been signed up to play for Castelldefels HC in the league that gets underway at the end of September.
And the duo, both who are 25 year old, are looking forward to enhancing their knowledge of the sport in their maiden overseas attachment with a foreign club.
But getting Malaysia through to the second round of the World League is their main priority.
“I am looking forward towards my stint in Spain as I hope to gain experience and help Malaysia do well internationally,” said Amarina who made her national team debut at the Asia Cup in New Delhi in 2004.
“I feel honoured to be selected to play for the club and will do my level best. But right now I need to concentrate on helping Malaysia win this leg of the World Series.”
Amarina, who hails from Penang is currently pursuing a degree in Physical Education at Universiti Putra Malaysia. She has 93 caps to her credit and lists the win over South Africa in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne as her best momment in hockey.
“I intend to carry on playing in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games at the very least,” added Amarina who credits her elder sister Siti Roshaida as the person who got her interested in hockey in the first place.
As for Fazilla who is a striker, scoring goals for Malaysia in the tournament is the task that she intends to accomplish to ensure a top finish for her team.
“Though I am expected to score goals, it is a team effort and the end result is what matters for me,” said Fazilla who hails from Mukah, Sarawak.
“Getting this opportunity to play in Spain is a dream come true for me. Besides gaining experience I intend to promote the country during my stint there.”
Fazilla made her debut in the 2007 SEA Games in Korat and it was in that tournament that she scored her first international goal.
Having played 62 internationals, Fazilla said that she will carry on playing as long as she can and hopes for a good outing in this tournament.
“It is not going to be easy as the other teams to are here with the same mission, to qualify for the next round,” said Fazilla who lists winning the Sukma gold medal for Sarawak in the 2006 Malaysia Games as her best hockey momment.
Initially two other players, Norazlin Sumantri and Raja Norsaharina Raja Shahbuddin were also earmarked to play in the Spanish League. But that did not materialise and Amarina and Fazilla are left to chart a new chapter for Malaysian women hockey in Spain.