A Guide To The Malaysia Hockey League

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.

How does the Malaysian Hockey League compare to other worldwide hockey leagues?

The Malaysian Hockey League (MHL), featuring the Malaysia hockey team, holds a distinctive place in the global hockey landscape. The MHL is notable for its inclusion of players from various countries, which enriches the league with diverse talents and playing styles. This aspect of international participation is a common thread in many top-tier hockey leagues worldwide, contributing to a heightened level of competition and skill development.

Comparatively, the MHL doesn’t match the sheer scale and global influence of leagues such as the NHL in North America or the KHL in Russia. These leagues are renowned for their high player salaries, attracting top talents from around the world. For instance, the KHL is known for drawing former NHL players due to its competitive nature and attractive pay, with salaries ranging from $1 million to $5.5 million as of 2016. The NHL, with its history and financial muscle, remains the pinnacle of professional hockey, hosting some of the finest players from various countries, including Europe.

The Malaysian hockey team, also known as the Malaysian Hockey Tigers or the Speedy Tigers, has shown commendable performances in various international tournaments. The team has achieved significant milestones, such as finishing fourth in the 1975 Hockey World Cup and being runners-up in the 2017 Hockey Asia Cup. As of December 2017, they were ranked 12th in the world and 2nd in Asia by the International Hockey Federation.

These achievements highlight the Malaysian hockey team’s growing competence on the international stage. The MHL plays a crucial role in this development, providing a competitive platform for local and international players to hone their skills. While the MHL may not yet be on par with the world’s most prestigious hockey leagues in terms of financial clout and global recognition, its contribution to the development of hockey in Malaysia and the region is undeniable. The league serves as a vital stepping stone for players aiming to make their mark in the international hockey arena.

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