Preparing For Challenge Cup Of Asia
For some women players in the team, playing hockey has been a long part-time career. Most seniors in the team have been playing since the age of 16 or less and grew up to have a full time 9 to 5-day jobs, and still, until this day continue to play hockey. The dream to one day play for the country has come true. Other younger players selected to the team, would soon come to realise that hockey, leading up to 21st March 2016, would be the time of their lives and that they were the first group of women to represent Malaysia in the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup Of Asia in Chinese Taipei.
The team are mostly made up of women who play in the same league and are all representing a local women’s ice hockey club. They practice 3 times a week and compete every week in the local league playing up to 12 games in one season. These women compete against all men’s team in Division 2. An unusual sight but rather intriguing to watch.
Prior to the tournament the girls practised and prepared for many months. It wasn’t an easy schedule. Players who worked had to come out straight from the office and head their way to practice at rinks in Sunway Pyramid or IOI City Mall. Both rinks are quite a distance from each other and for the girls who are in school, they would have to prioritise time between exams and assignments. Practice starts at 10 pm on weeknights and on the next day, the girls would wake up to be at work or school, and repeat the same cycle again.
The competition was tough in the first 2 games, competing against Chinese Taipei and Thailand. Malaysia lost both games. In the third game, spirits was high going against India. The team knew that they could beat India and that if they won, Malaysia would advance to the bronze medal game with Singapore. The game ended with 6-3 to Malaysia.
In the last game, both teams were keeping a tight leash and the first period finished with 0-0. At this point Malaysia was pumping and ready to break the first egg, unfortunately, Singapore was hungry than ever to make the first cut. In the next 2 periods, Singapore was relentless and they finished the game with a 4-1 win.
Despite the loss, Malaysia’s spirits are high. Today, the team continues their cycle of practices to continue progressing their game and come back stronger.
An American coach asked him to reveal his coaching secrets. “Do you think we have secrets?” He replied. “Today’s secret is tomorrow’s common knowledge. All you have to do is look. There is no secret in hockey. There is imagination, hard work, discipline and dedication to achieving any goals. But there is no secrets, none at all”
Anatoly Tarasov, Innovative Coach of Hockey in Soviet Union