Hockey: MJHL needs to be revamped, repackaged, retimed.

Looking at the calendar for the Malaysian Junior Hockey League, it can be said in construction terms , an architects dream, an Engineers nightmare.

While on one hand it looks like finally we have a competition running well over four months, instead of the six week MHL, in reality it’s only in terms of months, but not the duration of the competition proper.

This is because there are far too many breaks in between.

Let’s us first have a look at the proposed dates for the MJHL.

The dates according to the national body calendar

27-31 March

1-19 April

19-30 June

1-4 July

Basically this means two durations, 27 March to 19 April and 19 June to 4 July.

In terms of weeks, it’s still a six week duration.

The break from 19 April to 19 June is to accommodate the Ramadhan ( fasting month 23 April to 24 May) as well as the boys Junior Asia Cup ( 4-12 June).

So basically it still boils down to six playing weeks as matches are expected to be played on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday each week.

Looking at this duration slotted, and the fact that the MSSM championships is during the one week long school holidays in March, would it not be more proper to hold the MJHL earlier.

Now there are several factors that need to be considered when evaluating this suggestion.

Firstly the cost of maintaining a team for a four month duration could take its toll on some teams.

Secondly Sukma is scheduled for 10-19 July in Johor Baru and this will affect the preparations of the state teams.

Thirdly slotting the MJHL in this proposed window will affect the preparations of the boys Junior Asia Cup team.

Fourthly, having a pro longed break will diminish the interest from the spectators perspective as well as break the momentum of teams as well as players.

Before we move to the next stage, one must also be clear on the format of the MJHL.

From its initiation in 1995, the MJHL had been the most sought after competition in the country, with entries going ip to 40 teams at one time.

However last year , through some so called brilliant initiative called quality over quantity, the figure was drastically cut to 14 teams.

Hence sone 17 teams from the previous year were left in a limbo.

The two division format ought to be reinstated and there should be at least 10 teams each in the two divisions, maybe even make it a third division.

For starters the teams in last year could play in First Division, those who had competed before in second division and newcomers in third division.

This will create a competitive league with promotion and demotion and set about promoting the sport as well as contributing towards development of players.

While the age group for the MJHL is U19, perhaps it’s time to revisit this as well.

The third division could be reduced to an U18 league, to promote the participation of more school teams.

And with that the First Division catering for an Under 21 age group.

This will Ensure a longer shelf life for hockey players, from U16 to U21, thus giving them time to develop their true potential.

And the timing of the MJHL needs to be changed.

With the MHL ending on February 22, the MJHL could start right after that , say February 26 and be completed by April 22.

This means also a seven week league structure with three division format.

And it will be a welcome change then waiting for months, with two months of inactivity to determine who is the best.

Food for thought? If only those in positions care to listen from those who eat, sleep, drink Hockey .

The sport needs innovation not politics or self interest for it to survive.

And chest thumping on whose idea was it will not help, even blaming past administration or whatever.

It is the sport that matters, and seat warmers as well as position seekers ought to just accept proposals that they cannot think of given their inexperience as well as non imaginary abilities.