The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) has designed a formula for the women’s squad to break the dominance of the top four in Asia, next year.

MHC Deputy President, Prof Dr S. Shamala described next year as an important year in terms of preparation and exposure for the team to face upcoming major tournaments in 2017 and 2018.

“I am happy with the performance in 2015, we have defended the SEA Games gold medal for the sixth time and showcased an outstanding performance in the Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 before losing 0-1 to Poland in the semifinals to miss out our Olympics chance. Now we have (technical director) Terry Walsh and (coach) Muhammad Dharmaraj Abdullah.

“Dharmaraj had a great track record with junior boys and I feel he has done a lot of creative things to motivate the boys, so it is a boost for us to have him as coach.

“So, we must be able to bring the team to the next level to try our best to break the dominance of the top four – India, Korea, China and Japan – in Asia,” said Shamala when contacted by Bernama, Saturday. For the record, Malaysia are currently ranked 20th in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) women’s ranking list with 550 points, while China are in fifth place with 1,678 points followed by Korea in ninth (1,534), Japan in 10th spot (1,260) and India in 13th spot (1,084).

Among programmes designed for the women’s squad is to participate in the Australian Hockey League (AHL) for the first time ever and reintroduce the National Women’s Junior Hockey League (NWJHL).

According to Shamala, who is also the University Putra Malaysia (UPM) Sports Academy Director, the top priority next year will be the NWJHL, which is scheduled to start in Feb or March.

“We will call for the team registration soon, preparations are going on very well. We had the women’s league many years ago, somewhere in 2000 we had three series.

“It is good to reintroduce the league to have a long period of competition running for local teams…Without proper league, it is difficult to develop teams. The duration of the league depends on the number of teams participating but generally will be about five weeks,” she said.

However, the main target throughout next year will be preparations for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Besides that, we are playing host for Round 2 of the 2017 HWL, so we must use our home ground advantage qualify for the Round 3, she said. – BERNAMA

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