Time to rethink hockey approach, says Pekan

KUALA LUMPUR: Sports analyst Datuk Dr Pekan Ramli has called for the Malaysian hockey programme to undergo a comprehensive "forensic" post mortem following its continued failure to qualify for the Olympics.

Pekan said there are a number of possible factors holding back the national team from making its first appearance at the world's premier sporting event since the Sydney 2000 games.

The Speedy Tigers failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Muscat, Oman earlier this week which was their last chance to earn a berth at the Paris Olympics.

"We may still be world class in hockey, however, we are only bringing up rear among the top teams. We need to conduct a forensic post mortem and restructure the development of the sport," said Pekan when contacted today.

"One aspect we have to look at is the quality and physicality of our players.

"Malaysia and even other teams from Asia have struggled to compete against their European or Australian counterparts.

"This is because they (European teams) have much greater strides and physical reach, which essentially compacts the playing field.

"The way to overcome this is by playing with pace, however, we have to look at whether we have the ability to consistently pull off such a strategy.

"We also seem to be lacking outstanding players with the ability to be 'game changers'. We had such players in the past but no more.

"With the exception of a handful of new players, we have largely been depending on the same faces over the last few years. The talent pool we currently have is limited.

"We also have to review our coaching methodology and see whether it remains relevant. It might be hard for us to be competitive if we continue to use old methods."

Pekan added that the national squad needs to feature a more balanced multi-racial composition, similar to what it was in the past.

"In the past, when government-linked companies were involved in hockey, we had players from many different races. But it is less diverse now," said Pekan.

"Each race brings something different to the team. One particular race may be physically bigger while another may have very good ball handling skills.

"The strengths from the different races complements each other and makes us stronger.

"Hopefully, this will change with the implementation of the National Hockey Development Programme (NHDP) which is starting to get off the ground now."

NHDP aims to boost development by grooming players from the grassroots level across the nation through the implementation of district, state and national hockey training centres.

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