GEORGE TOWN: FOR the past eight years, SK Permai Indah are well known for their hockey grassroots development.
They are also the school to beat in the Under-12 age-group competitions in the northern region.
Many of the school's students, especially hockey players who were straight A students, were sought after and absorbed in top schools in the state, the state sports school and the national sports school in Johor.
This was evident when both their boys' and girls' teams retained the Penang Schools Sports Council's Under-12 titles for the third consecutive year at the Mutiara Impian Sports School artificial turf in Seberang Prai Selatan recently.
During the past eight years, the boys had won the title five times while the girls had won it six times.
The teacher who started it all, Mohd Husni Man is still coaching and guiding the school's teams even though he has been transferred to the education department. But now he has an assistant in Zulfazila Yahaya.
Mohd Husni said it was the school's emphasis that every student should participate in at least one sport.
Normally, the coaches would start identifying the Year Three pupils to begin the training, but the sports culture in the school is such that many choose to train and play hockey, which has the coaches spoilt for choices.
"We normally identify the players before the school closes for the year-end holidays and start our training when school reopens in January so that we have a head start compared to other schools.
"Our emphasis is simple -- the selected players have to keep fit during the school holidays. When they resume training and if they are not fit, they will be dropped," he said.
He said as a coach, he will always emphasise on skill which is the basic for young children to perform well in competitions and which will remain with them as long as they play the game.
Mohd Husni said the other incentive for these players, who come from poor families, is they get to travel while playing hockey as the school participates in most of the competitions throughout the country, excluding Sabah and Sarawak.
He said: "You will be surprised that many of these students have friends all over the country, just because of hockey!"
Meanwhile, the Permai Indah boys had to dig deep into their reserves to defeat arch rivals SK Hashim Awang 2-1.
The former took an early lead and were all out for a second goal when a lapse of concentration in the second half allowed the Hashim Awang team to equalise.
Both teams were trying hard for the winning goal, and just before the hooter, Putera Ahmad Syahme Ahmad Aswad, on a solo run, sounded the board for Permai Indah's winning goal.
The Permai Indah lasses defeated SK Permatang Damar Laut 2-1 in the final.
RESULTS -- Boys' Under-12 s-finals: SK Permai Indah 3 SK Permatang To' Kandu 0; SK Hashim Awang 1 (3) SK Taman Senangan 1 (1).
Final: SK Permai Indah 2 SK Hashim Awang 1.
Girls' Under-12 s-finals: SK Permai Indah 4 SK Hashim Awang 1; SK Permatang Damar Laut 3 SK Titi Teras 1.
Final: SK Permai Indah 2 SK Permatang Damar Laut 1.