Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) has formed a chain of barricades in preparation for the 2021 TNB Malaysian Hockey League.
Head coach Megat Azrafiq Termizi, and his assistant Saiful Azhar Mohd Afendi are taking extra precautions although the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Competitions Committee has drawn a string of comprehensive plans to battle the Covid-19 pandemic at the National Hockey Stadium.
“The introduction of the ‘bubble system’ and compulsory Covid-19 tests by players and immediate family members by MHC is a great move. We are strictly abiding by the SOP outlined by the National Security Council, Ministry of Youth and Sports, and National Sports Council,” he said.
“We do not want to be caught in any unwarranted situation. Our mission is to continue our momentum in the league and TNB Cup. Our target has always been to win all three titles,” added Saiful after UniKL’s 5-2 win over Nur Insafi in a friendly match.
The 2020 treble winners begin their campaign on March 12 in the Charity Shield match against Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) at the Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium (playoff at 8.0pm).
The men’s MHL starts on March 11, followed by the women’s event on March 15. The final of both events will be held on April 3.
Saiful, who is also assigned to look into UniKL players’ safety and welfare during the three-week tournament, did not mince words when he said there will be no room for compromise unless in emergency matters.
“We are casting the net wide in terms of safety measures. Even members of the media or anyone for that matter will not be allowed to meet players on the field or at the ‘bubble’.
They can always communicate with us via phone calls for pre-match and post-match interviews,” said Saiful.
He added that UniKL players will undergo a second Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test before entering the bubble on March 10, while Rapid Test Kit Antigen (RTK) tests will be conducted by the MHC during the league.
THE MHC has decided on Hotel Pullman in Bangsar as the sports-bubble venue for the League.
All 14 teams (men and women) will be housed at the hotel, including the bus drivers, umpires, technical officials, and ball-boys.
The national hockey governing body will bear all costs for the bubble, including accommodation, food, and transportation to the National Hockey Stadium.
MHC also issued a stern warning to players and officials against breaking the quarantine-based approach SOP.
Those who breach the MHL bubble will be expelled from the league. The men’s MHL comprises defending champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu Hockey Team, Tenaga, TNB Thunderbolts, Maybank, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Nurinsafi, and debutant Sabah.
UniKL Ladies, Police Blue Warriors, PKS UniTen, Mutiara Impian, Sabah, and Young Tigress are the teams in the women’s league.