|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Malaysian national league an example for others
Abhaya Srivastava | September 26, 2003 17:56 IST
There is a lesson or two for India to learn from Malaysia as far as structuring national hockey is concerned.
Malaysia may have slipped in their international standings of late but the way they run the National League, started in 1987, is commendable and an example which could be followed by powerhouses India and Pakistan.
The 2003 league season running from June to September at Kuala Lumpur could very well compare with any international league what with many foreigners among 220 players being on the rolls of as many as 11 teams.
While Indian stalwarts Pargat Singh, Jude Felix, Mukesh Kumar and Dhanraj Pillay have all played for the MHL at one time or the other, the current season saw Len Aiyappa sweating it out alongside other international players of repute including Kang Keon Wook of South Korea, Pakistan's Syed Imran Ali Warsi and Englishman Daniel Thomas Haydon.
Top Pakistan players -- Sohail Abbas and Kashif Jawad -- also lent glamour to the League last season with the former being crowned top scorer. And it was Aiyappa who finished at the top in the recently concluded League.
Though the MHL has been quite successful with considerable crowd interest, Malaysian Hockey Federation secretary S Satgunam still sees room for improvement.
"It is not as successful as it was a few years ago," said Satgunam.
"The smaller clubs do not have the finances to hire foreign players. In fact our junior league has been more successful and contributed a number of players for the senior side," he said.
The catch for India lies here. With abundance in talent, there could be nothing better than India running a league -- on junior and club level -- to spot talent and harness them for international competition.
Even a country like Bangladesh with hardly any international standing in hockey boasts of a league.
Another positive fall-out, as Satgunam said, would be that it would help generate employment for players.
"Thanks to the MHL the problem of unemployment has been controlled to a good extent. Now even players with tertiary [minimum qualification] education can also get jobs which was not so 10-15 years ago."
Satgunam conceded that running a league in India could be problem because of the sheer size of the country. "India is so vast it is tough to have a format. May be they could have the state champions qualifying to play in the National League championsip... it could be considered."
The Asian Hockey Federation has had also urged the national association to take a cue from MHL and make necessary arrangements to allow foreign players to showcase their skills in their respective league championships, which would also help strengthen ties between various hockey playing countries.