LOVE IT OR HATE IT
JHL clubs’ reaction to Thunderbolts programme
ONLY Petaling Jaya City Council (PJCC) Tigers managed to steal the thunder from the four Thunderbolts in Division One of the Junior Hockey League (JHL) this season.
Thunderbolts is a five-year project by Malaysian Hockey Confederation’s (MHC) main sponsors who not only pumped money into four premier hockey schools, but also provided nine coaching staff.
Former internationals like Amin Rahim, M. Kaliswaran and Madzli Ikmar are some of the umbrellas that have provided winning shades for Anderson, Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI), Pahang Hockey Academy and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).
Run by three-time Olympian Nor Saiful Zaini, the Thunderbolts programme is loved and hated by just as many clubs in the JHL.
PJCC stole the League title, while SSTMI, BJSS, Pahang and Anderson were the order in Division One.
But in the TNB Cup knockout, Anderson kicked out PJCC and made it a Thunderbolts semi-finals. This Sunday, Pahang and SSTMi will battle for the Overall trophy.
“We started the Thunderbolts programme in 2010 and going by the blueprint it will be continued for another five years (2022) and the objective is to have a big pool of players, and train as many as possible to become national juniors and then the seniors.
“We have four schools under the programme and going by the recent results in the JHL, we are heading in the right direction.
“However, due to budget constraints and manpower, we will not expand this programme to other clubs and concentrate on four,” said Nor Saiful.
But the downside of this success story is that the other JHL clubs are finding it hard to keep pace with the Thunderbolts and are feeling disillusioned.
“We understand their grouses, but as I said, we have no more room to expand and what I can suggest is that other clubs in the Malaysia Hockey League with big budgets should also adopt some of the JHL teams because in the long run, they can source for quality local players from their efforts.
“This is better than relying on foreign players to carry them in the MHL,” said Nor Saiful.
Tenaga Nasional are the only all-local side left standing in the MHL, and going by their progress in the four premier hockey schools, they will have a deep pool of talent coming from the four Thunderbolts to play in the MHL.
Nor Saiful Zaini runs the Thunderbolts programme.