Field hockey, commonly known as Hoki in Malaysia, is one of the country’s most popular sports. Malaysia has greatly contributed to the promotion of sport in Asia and is also regarded as one of the founding members of the Asian Hockey Federation.
Malaysia’s national hockey team is one of the strongest in the region and ranks 13th globally. Besides the national team, Malaysia has its own hockey league, the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), the country’s premium league field hockey competition.
It is a venture of the Malaysia Hockey Confederation and is organised for various clubs in the country. Currently, the MHL comprises seven men’s and six women’s clubs and is sponsored by the Tenaga Nasional Berhad.
Here is a brief account of the history and origin of the Malaysia Hockey League and its competition format.
Malaysia Hockey League History
The Malaysia Hockey League was introduced in 1985. While hockey was the most popular sport in the country at one time, its popularity graph was constantly declining due to the ever-rising popularity of football in the region.
The idea behind the creation of the Malaysia Hockey League was to revive the sport in the country and encourage locals to take an interest in field hockey once again. Another reason behind the masses’ loss of interest in hockey was a rise in the number of corporate hockey teams. Since the locals could not relate to teams being sponsored by the likes of Maybank or Ernst & Young, they gradually lost interest in the domestic field hockey competitions.
However, the advent of the Malaysia Hockey League changed all that since it inducted teams from traditional hockey-playing regions with massive hockey fan following, such as Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Negeri, Malacca, etc.
Malaysia Hockey League Format
The current season of the Malaysia Hockey League has thirteen teams in total; seven men and six women teams. The women’s teams competed in the Vivian May Soar Cup Championship. New teams were added to the women’s category earlier this year.
The matches between the men’s teams were held at five different venues across the country, and the top four teams advanced to the semi-finals. Matches were conducted on a two-match basis, home and away. This was a change from last year’s carnival format in which eight teams had taken part in the men’s category, and six were in the women’s category.
The MHL format comprises various divisions, whereby the top teams participate in the premier division category. The remaining teams compete in the open category, which comprises Division One and Division Two.
Divisions Two and three are for under-19 groups and comprise teams that have participated in the previous year’s Malaysia Junior Hockey League. The Division Two champions are either promoted to Division One or can opt to stay in the Under-19 hockey league category.
Two teams at the bottom of the MHL’s Premier Division are demoted to Division One, while the top two teams from Division One are promoted to the premier division for the coming season the following year.
A team in the Malaysia Hockey League has a maximum of eighteen players who are registered with the Malaysia Hockey Federation. The players must register with the MHF and submit their identity documents before the league begins to qualify for playing in a certain team.
The Malaysia Junior Hockey League is the country’s top junior league competition organised for Malaysian junior field hockey clubs. The contest was introduced in 1995 to revive hockey in the coming years. In 2009, the junior hockey league was merged with the senior Malaysia Hockey League. However, after only ten months, the Malaysian Hockey Federation decided to segregate the two leagues and re-introduced the Malaysia Junior Hockey League as a separate contest.
In 2022, the Malaysia Junior Hockey League had 44 teams; 29 boys’ and 15 girls’ teams. The boys’ category had two divisions; Division One and Division Two. The girls’ teams had returned to this year’s season after a certain hiatus due to the low popularity of the contest. This year DBKL won the boys TNB Malaysia Junior Hockey League competition.
Are foreign players allowed in the Malaysia Hockey League?
Foreign players are also inducted into various teams in the Malaysia Hockey League. Over the years, players from India, Pakistan, Singapore, Ireland, and Hong Kong have been a part of different clubs. The inclusion of foreign players began in 2005. Players must meet the criteria set by the Malaysia Hockey Federation and provide an international transfer certificate from their respective countries.
Which teams are in Malaysia Hockey League?
The Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League comprises Terengganu, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, UniKL Hockey Club, Maybank Hockey Club, and TNB Thunderbolts.