My passion for hockey alone would not have brought me to the Likas Sports Hockey Turf last week but my girl’s involvement did. I’m glad I did, because it gave me the chance to see how the kids play and figure out how to help my daughter improve her skills. Plus, it was interesting to compare the standard of junior hockey today with the time when I was a schoolboy. I will reserve my personal observations on that matter but I must confess that I’m encouraged with what I saw.
When I reached the stadium, I was concerned about the heat. Fortunately, it drizzled in the morning (the first after weeks of drought) and the sky was pretty cloudy. So, even at 9 am, it was a pleasantly cool day. That alone should help the kids to lift their game and play at a higher tempo. I gave my girl some pep talk before the tournament got underway and spent the whole day watching her and the other kids play.
My simple observations are:
- Compared to the grounds where my girl’s school team practices, the turf is huge, so I was not surprised when they were quite overwhelmed by it. They should be given a few opportunities to practice on the real turf or at least playing on a field of the same size. Unfortunately, many schools in Malaysia still don’t have proper facilities for their students, which includes a tournament-sized football/hockey field.
- There were 1 or 2 schools that have a few talented players but without a good game strategy, or perhaps there were miscommunication somewhere between the players and coaches. Therefore, a moderately talented team could still win the game.
- As the playing time was short (about 7 minutes for each half time), there were not too much stamina problems. So, I don’t know how they would fare in real time. As for the other physical aspects of their game, i.e, strenght – there are plenty of work-out to do as there are many that can’t hit or push the ball more than 25 yards.
- Good leaders are important. A talented and matured school team captain stood out and helped the team to score 2-0. Most game ended in a draw.
- As always some referees are sharper than the others. Some can spot the fouls from very far and played the advantage when it was necessary, while others seemed to blow the whistle for the wrong reasons. With due respect, as always.
- About 80% of the players (especially the girls) have not mastered the basic rules of the game such as stopping and pushing the ball. Maybe it’s because hockey is only played for the purpose of tournament (instead of as a school sports activity or as a hobby), and so the kids only practice about less than 3 months per year. Not enough at junior level!
- Size does not matter in hockey, skill does. Just like Leo Messi who excels in football with his small size, you too can excel in hockey as long as you can develop good skill.
- Concentration is the key. This is and not grass. The ball won’t bounce, unlike during my time. If a player can keep his/her concentration and dicipline, then, nobody will get pass him/her. With that the player can help the team keep a clean slate and avoid defeat like my daughter did for her team. Well done girl!
What I Saw At MSS Kota Kinabalu Hockey
I was quite pleased to see a few promising players and I was particularly impressed with the leadership and maturity of the Captain of SRK Lok Yuk. He kept his game simple and chose the right pass all the time. It was an enlightening experience.
Several players were selected by the selection committee to represent Kota Kinabalu in the MSS Sabah next month. I wish them all the best and hopefully they can win the tournament this year. Those not in the team, please do not give up and strive harder to be selected next time. There are plenty of time for them to develop their game, many more tournaments to look forward to and many other sports to play as well. Just keep your feet on the ground and reach for the top. You kids boleh!
– MSS Kota Kinabalu Hockey Tournament