AIR ASIA has come on board to sponsor the Sultan Ahmad Shah (SAS) Malaysian Veteran Hockey Association players who will be competing in the World Masters Hockey Asia Cup in Hong Kong from Nov 20-26.

Dato’ Majid Manjit Abdullah, the Deputy President of Sultan Ahmad Shah Malaysian Veteran Hockey Association, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, the founder and Group CEO of Air Asia.

“Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has generously offered free flight tickets to the players and officials who will be participating in the WMH Asia Cup Hong Kong. We deeply appreciate this gesture and thank Tan Sri. We are thrilled and look forward to the tournament,” said Dato’ Manjit, who is also president of Johor Hockey Association and Vice-President of Asian Hockey Federation.

In the WMH Asia Cup Hong Kong, the Malaysians will compete in three categories – Men above 40s, Men above 50s and Men above 60s.

Dato’ Manjit further stressed that veterans’ hockey is getting its deserving recognition in Malaysia with the invaluable support from His Majesty Al-Sultan Abdullah, the King of Malaysia, and YAM Tengku Arif Temenggong Tengku Fahad Mu’adzam Shah Al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad Shah, President of Sultan Ahmad Shah (SAS) Malaysian Veteran Hockey Association.

The King and Queen had recently hosted a special reception for more than 120 players of the SAS Malaysian Veteran Hockey Association at Istana Negara. At the ceremony Al-Sultan Abdullah presented plaques to 20 players aged above 60 for their success in securing a bronze medal in the Tokyo 2022 World Masters Hockey Championship.

“I am confident the teams will do their best in Hong Kong and continue the momentum,” said Dato Manjit. “The players are experienced and are ready for the challenge ahead.”

Meanwhile, rain may have pounded the Petaling Jaya Hockey Stadium in the past few days but that did not dampen the spirit of the Sultan Ahmad Shah (SAS) Malaysian Veteran Hockey Association players who were in the final phase of training for the upcoming World Masters Hockey 2023 Asia Cup in Hong Kong.

It was indeed pleasing to see the players from the ages of 40s, 50s and 60s go through their paces during training under the flood lights. Amongst those drafted in the 60s team are two notable members of the judiciary – Federal Court Judge the Hon. Justice Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and Court of Appeal Judge the Hon. Justice Dato’ Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Joining them in training are former national team captain Sarjit Singh, two-time Olympian Soon Mustafa Karim, Raymond Marks Tio, Zaiharin Jauhari, Inderjit Singh, Shyam Singh, Majinder Singh, and Chin Sow Ten to name a few.

For the record, the veterans have made the nation proud in the Grand Master Hockey Year 2022. The Malaysian 60s team won a bronze medal in the Master Hockey World Cup tournament in Tokyo and the 65s finished fourth in the Japanese capital city. The 40s team, however, finished sixth in Nottingham, England while in Cape Town, South Africa the 45s came in fifth spot, 50s in sixth placing and 55s fifth position.

“We have been training vigorously for the last few months and we hope to do well in Hong Kong,” said Datuk Seri Surinder Singh, Vice President (1) of the SAS Malaysian Veteran Hockey Association and Tournament Director for Malaysia to the WMH  2023 Asia Cup in Hong Kong.

“Most of our players come from all over the country including the east coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. They were selected after a series of trials. Our training sessions has been consistent the last three months with the players showing high-level of commitment and discipline. Except on certain days when some players are unable to attend trainings due to work or family commitments, attendance has been satisfactory,” said Datuk Seri Surinder.

“We are all self-sponsored. We have to fork out our own money to book the hockey pitches for training. In this context we appreciate help from sponsors. With adequate funds we can source for better training facilities and equipment… or even invite more skillful players into the team who lack the financial resources. Everyone involved here is playing for the love of the game,” he added.

He added that the founder and Group CEO of Air Asia, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, has graciously offered free flight tickets to every member of the veteran teams for the WMH Asia Cup in Hong Kong.

“It is a good step forward for us and we thank Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Air Asia for helping us. It has reduced our burden greatly and we hope more sponsors will take the same path as Air Asia,” said Datuk Seri Surinder.

The increasing number of age groups teams, both men and women, in the World Masters Hockey tournaments, said Datuk Seri Surinder, augurs well in the promotion of veterans’ hockey.

“In the Masters World Cup, we play against teams from Australia, Canada, Wales, England, Ireland, South Africa, USA, including Asian teams Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka and Singapore to name a few. In the last two years when the WMH World Cup was held in Cape Town, South Africa, there were 124 teams that competed (men and women),” he said, while 12 countries involving 27 teams competed in the 2022 WMH World Cup in Japan.

“It is a very big affair and it is not easy to run this tournament. WMH is doing a good job,” said Datuk Seri Surinder. Next year the Malaysians will compete in the World Masters Hockey World Cup from Nov 7-16 in Auckland, New Zealand.

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