After witnessing some breathtaking moments by Malaysia Tigers in the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has fast-tracked its development programme in grooming the next generation of hockey players.
The Malaysians won bronze for the fourth time since the inception of the ACT in Ordos, China, in 2011. The ACT2016 team featured a number of Thunderbolt graduates namely Sharil Saabah, Firhan Ashari and the Saari brothers - Faizal and Fitri. These players came through the Thunderbolt Programme and are now regulars in the national senior squad.
The TNB Malaysian Junior Hockey League (TNBMJHL) has been a booming stage for young hockey talents in displaying their talents and gaining invaluable experience.
As a preparation for the 2017 TNBMJHL, an inaugural Thunderbolt Cup will be held comprising of the four Thunderbolt teams along with four other invited teams.
Participants of the 1st Thunderbolts Cup will include Sabah Sports School, Terengganu Sports School, the Selangor State team and the Singapore Juniors; which are all viable sparring teams for the TNB sponsored teams.
This tournament will basically be a smaller scaled MJHL as the format and rules will be based on the actual tournament which the four Thunderbolt teams topped in the last edition.
In conjunction with the 2016 Sultan of Johor Cup, the first edition of the Thunderbolts Cup will be held at Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI), Johor from the 3rd - 6th November 2016.
The main objective and idea for this four-day invitational tournament is to serve as early preparation for TNB’s development teams and identify new talents for upcoming tournaments.
Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) Thunderbolt coach, Lokman Yahaya, who approves of the Thunderbolts Cup, observed: “We will be using this inaugural tournament to test out and identify some players for the upcoming TNBMJHL.
“Since most of our players are busy during this period of time with school exams, we could not plan extensive preparations and trainings for this tournament. We will be using this tournament mainly to regain match fitness as well as trying out some new tactics in bid to defend our junior title,” added Lokman.
SSTMI’s coach, Wan Roslan Wan Abdul Rahman, also echoed the approval of the Thunderbolts Cup.
“The Hockey development scene has become a very competitive market today and we expect the next TNBMJHL to be more challenging compared to previous editions. A tournament such as the Thunderbolts Cup is a perfect preparation to identify the needful additions or changes for the team.
“Our main objective for this tournament is to continue working with the players we have and continue nurturing them for bigger challenges in the future. We also look to continue working and learning with TNB’s Thunderbolt programme towards securing a brighter hockey future for our country,” he explained.
Teams competing in the inaugural Thunderbolts Cup will be given additional hockey theory classes, video analysis sessions and talks regarding modern hockey techniques.