AFTER achieving an all-time high of a fourth place finish in the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian hockey had its ups and downs. But Malaysia has put in place a “vision and mission” and is on the right track as it pushes towards regaining Malaysia’s position in elite hockey at international arena.
Malaysia may have missed out on the recent London Olympics but under the dynamic leadership of HRH Prince Abdullah Al Haj Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, president of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), Malaysian hockey is certainly on the upturn despite heartbreaks here and there on the road to progress.
Prince Abdullah has laid out the fundamentals with key objectives – right vision and mission; strategic objectives; good governance and accountability plus an excellence road map with targets in place, in fostering Malaysian hockey to world class.
Malaysia’s silver medal in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and the juniors achieving a first by winning the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational six nation tournament in Johor Bahru in November 2011 and clinching their first ever Junior Asia Cup in May this year.
The Sultan of Johor Cup was Malaysia’s first ever success in winning an international tournament either at home or away. The previous best by Malaysia was a silver medal won by the senior team at the Asiad in Guangzhou, China.
Coach K. Dharmaraj described Malaysia’s success in the Sultan of Johor Cup as a “great moment for the game in Malaysia” and a perfect boost for the Junior Asia Cup that was played in the historic city of Malacca in May 2012.
The Asian meet also served as Qualifier for the Junior World Cup to be held in India in 2013. The Malaysian Juniors not only qualified for the World Cup Finals by beating Pakistan 2-1 in the final but knocked out defending champions 2-0 in the semi-finals.
Prince Abdullah is also credited for the second re-engineering of merged Malaysian hockey which brought the men’s and women’s hockey under one umbrella – the Malaysian Hockey Confederation – at the beginning of this year. The restructuring involved a completely new paradigm of management where hockey in Malaysia is managed under one governing body – a unique structure indeed where the ratio of men and women is absolutely equal. All positions are open for either gender to contest.
The first restructuring of merged hockey was done on 16th July 2005.
THE Malaysian Hockey Federation, as the Malaysian Hockey Confederation was then known as, was formed in 1954 after Singapore went their way. Herman Marie De Souza was elected president and Kandiah Aryaduray the secretary. Sir Gerald Templer, the supremo of Malaya and Sir Donald MacGillivray the High Commissioner of Federation of Malaya, were roped in as Patrons.
Before going separate ways, after the end of the North versus South hockey match at the end of the 1947-48 season in Kuala Lumpur, delegates from the Hockey Associations of Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Johor and Singapore met.
Singapore Hockey Association president Sir George E.N. Oehlers formally proposed, “that a body governing the game of hockey in the Federation of Malaya and the Colony of Singapore be formed and that such a body be called the Malayan Hockey Council”. Sir George was duly elected the first president.
With that came the quadrangular hockey over the weekends during the hockey season and the introduction of the Malayan Championships in 1951 put the game on a higher level in the country. The exploits of the legendary Indians in the Olympics – they had won five titles since the 1928 Amsterdam Games, and the fifth was at the 1952 Helsinki Games – fired the imagination of hockey enthusiasts in Malaya.
Olympic participation is through the Olympic Council and the Malayan Hockey Council did the needful, with the Amateur Athletics Union of Malaya. They met at the PWD Sports Club in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur on Aug 15, 1953 at 11.30am and the Federation of Malaya Olympic Council was born 35 minutes later.
And Malaya were ready for their first international outing – the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and have never looked back since.
Past records reveal that the first formal match played in Malaya was between Harris’ XI and Whitley’s XI on Nov 30, 1898 in Kuala Lumpur. Inter-club matches were played between Selangor and Singapore as early as 1904. Other British-dominated clubs in Malacca, 1poh and Penang also had their matches and by 1920 there were more Malays playing the game. The Federated Malay States versus Colony series was started in 1925.
Penang claim to have formed the first State Hockey Association, though all records were lost during the World War Two, the “memory of the old-timers” says the association took shape about the 1924-25 season.
Perak, however, were the first to officially form a State Hockey Association and this was in October 1927, and so too were Negeri Sembilan. And in Perak, the Constitution was amended in 1936 to provide for District Hockey Association. Six districts formed their Hockey Association the same year.
Records show that the game was played at club level in 1931 by Tamilians’ Physical Cultural Association (TPCA), Selangor Malays and Selangor Chinese Recreation Club in Kuala Lumpur. The game went “international” with the visit of the Indian Olympic team in 1932. The Indians treated the local fans to a delightful display of hockey on their way to a 7-0 win over the Malayan Xl.
By the 1930s, regular inter-state matches were held. The 1939 records show that Selangor were a hot number, beating Negeri Sembilan 9-0 on Nov 4, Malacca 2-0 on Nov 18 and Penang 1-0 on Dec 2. Hockey was up and running in the country and the game was played at club and district levels nationwide by the late 30s.
The hockey season ended with the classic North vs South match. North was made up of Kedah. Penang, Perak, Pahang and Selangor while South had Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Johor and Singapore.
THE history of women’s hockey in Malaysia began with the inaugural meeting of the Pan-Malayan Women’s Hockey Association on the 16th December 1956 although the game was first played in the 1920s.
In the 1920s the competitions were organised at inter-club and inter-state levels before it was put on a properly organised basis – thanks to a meeting of hockey enthusiasts from Penang, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Singapore. They met in February 1956 and laid the groundwork for a governing body where Mrs. E. Houstoin was elected pro-tem Chairman and Miss Chuah Guaik Hoon was the pro-tern Hon. Secretary.
At the inaugural meeting of the Pan-Malayan Women’s Hockey Association on 16th December, 1956, Mrs. V. Marsh became the first President with Miss C. Thomasz and Mrs S. Sundram as the two Vice-Presidents. Miss Chuah Guaik Hoon (Hon. Secretary). Miss R. Emuang (Hon. Treasuruer), Mrs. M. Scully, Mrs. D. Sibert, Mrs Teh Gin Sooi, Mrs. P. Chelliah, Mrs. W. Drake and Mrs. Z. Bryant made up the first executive committee.
The following year in 1957, the Pan-Malayan Women’s Hockey Association took a giant progressive step when it became affiliated to the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association – the year Malaya gained independence from the British.
In 1961, the Association became the Malayan Women’s Hockey Association and grew in strength from the original member associations of Penang, Selangor and Perak. Negri Sembilan became affiliated in 1962 followed by Johor, Malacca and Singapore (in 1964), Sabah (1965) and Sarawak (1967).
Perak, who had resigned in 1964, returned to the fold in 1967 while Pahang joined the membership in 1975. In between, in keeping with the political trend, Singapore resigned in 1965.
Malaya made its international debut in 1962 with matches against Australia and Singapore through the initiative of Mrs. Zena Jansz, who was the President of the Malayan Women’s Hockey Association at that time.
In keeping with the political trends the Malayan Women’s Hockey Association changed its name to the Malaysian Women’s Hockey Association in 1963.
In 1965, the Malaysian women’s hockey team made its maiden overseas tour as guest of the All- Australian Women’s Hockey Association and played friendly games against various state teams and one Test match against Australia.
Two years later the Malaysian Women’s Hockey Association was affiliated to the All-England Women’s Hockey Association.
In 1979, the association took a major step with the staging of the 1st National Championships in Seremban for the Tengku Budriah Trophy. Teams that competed in the championships were Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Sabah.
Since then the championships have been played in Perak, (1971), Malacca (1972), Selangor (1973), Penang (1974), Negri Sembilan (1975), Perak (1976), Malacca (1977), Pahang (1978), Penang (1979), Negri Sembilan (1980), Kuala Lumpur (1981) and Penang (1982).
It was a historic year for the Malaysian Women’s Hockey Association in 1971 when it took part in the 10th International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association’s conference and tournament in New Zealand.
In 1972, with the setting up of the National Sports Council, women’s hockey received a boost when the association was recognised as the governing body of women’s hockey in Malaysia. It was a shot in the arm for the association as the official recognition meant it was on par with all other sports and led to it being affiliated to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) in 1973.
A year later in 1974, the association turned out its first batch of women coaches who qualified at the end of a basic course held in November. In the late 1976, the association registered its first women umpire.
Although Malaysia had hosted foreign teams like Australia, Germany, America and Ireland and taken part in the IFWHA tournaments, it was in 1974 that the Malaysian Women’s Hockey Association organized a prestigious tournament – the Asian Women’s Hockey Tournament with Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia taking part.
In September 1975, Malaysia participated in the IFWHA 1st Women’s World Cup tournament in Edinburgh, Scotland. En-route to Edinburgh, Malaysia stopped over in Denmark where the team played three matches with the state and club sides. Malaysia won all the matches.
At the IFWHA Conference in Edinburgh, Malaysia were represented by Mrs P.T. Lingam and Mrs Dorothy Sibert Bailey. Malaysia was requested to look into the possibility of organizing the 3rd World Cup tournament and conference which Malaysia staged in 1983.The association was formally admitted as a member of the International Hockey Federation (F1H) on 27th July, 976 at the Statutory Congress in Montreal, Canada.
In 1975, a new breed of women officials decided to put the Asian body into shape. Under the dynamic leadership of Tok Puan Zainon Datuk Hussain, a meeting of representatives from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia met and a pro-tem committee was set up to draft the constitution for Federation of Asian Ladies Hockey Associations (FALHA).
Malaysia participated in the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, India. It was the first time that women’s hockey was introduced in the Asian Games and Malaysia did well to win the bronze medal. In 1991, Malaysia competed in the Inctra Gandhi Cup in Chandigarh, India.
The South East Asian Games (SEA Games), have always been important for the Malaysian women’s team, winning the silver medal in Singapore in 1993, Chiang Mai (1995) and the gold medal in Jakarta (1997), Brunei (1999) and Kuala Lumpur (2001).
Malaysian sports experienced a shift of management paradigm in 1994 when Malaysia was given the honour to host the Commonwealth Games (1998) and the women’s hockey team was part of this large project.
In 2001, the Malaysian team qualified for the World Cup Qualifiers in Amiens, France. Another important tournament is the junior and the elite Asia Cup. Malaysia was promoted from Division 2 to Division 1 in 1997 (Singapore) and since then Malaysia has featured in all Asia Cup tournaments. Malaysia hosted the 1983 Continental Cup and World Cup (1992) and the 2000 Regional World Cup Qualifiers (Asia Cup).
For their efforts in promoting hockey among girls and women, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the Women in Sports Award for Asia to the Malaysian Women’s Hockey Association in 2001.