Olympian Kevin Nunis looks forward to new challenge as hockey development programme coach

The enhanced National Hockey Development Programme (NHDP) must learn from the 1Mas Hockey Programme if it is to be more successful.

The 1Mas project began in 2010 and ended eight years later after going through its RM11 million budget. The programme was set up with the intention of introducing hockey to the grassroots with the aim of widening the talent pool.

While it did produce a couple of national players, many critics felt the programme lost its way after a bright start by focusing too much on the national sports schools instead of the grassroots.

The programme was then replaced with the NHDP but it is only now that the MHC has come up with a tier system to ensure the grassroots will be taken care of.

The man appointed to run the show is former international Kevin Nunis, who was unveiled as the head coach in a press conference by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) today.

Nunis said he welcomes the challenge of producing future national players.

“Development has always been my strength. I worked in Pahang, Terengganu and Negri Sembilan, coaching the senior teams as well as the Under-12s until the Under-18s,” said Nunis, who was a national player from 1979-1989.

“My job will be to produce future national players and this is something I take very seriously.

“It will not be something we can do overnight but I am convinced with the right approach and assistance from everyone, it is possible.”

Asked to compare the enhanced NHDP to the 1Mas programme, Nunis said he did not want to be drawn into the comparison.

“On paper, we have similar objectives – which is to go to the grassroots and produce national players,” said Nunis, who played in the 1979 Junior World Cup and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

“I do not want to comment on something I was not part of. I am looking forward to this challenge. I have coached several players who have gone on to represent the country and I am confident of doing so again.”

MHC deputy president Prof Dr Datuk S. Shamala is in charge of the programme.

“NHDP has been around since 2018 but we made changes. This is why we brought Kevin in to run the programme,” said Shamala.

“One way to ensure we have proper grassroots representation is to hire head coaches in all the states. The coaches have been shortlisted and we will name them soon.

“We have also introduced a tiered system with grassroots (Under-12), district centres (Under-14), state centres (Under-16).

“The players will then move along the age group until we incorporate them in the national centres where we will work closely with the sports schools.

“We worked closely with the education ministry on this programme and it has a representative in all our meetings.”

It is projected that about 3,800 to 4,000 boys and girls in the various age groups will get a chance to play, train and compete systematically at the NHDP centres.

“Those selected for the MHC Centre in Bukit Jalil will get a chance to meet and speak to the national players,” she added.

“This is to motivate them. We might have an open day either once a month or once every few months for the other members of the programme to meet the national players.”

Another former international, Nabil Fiqri Mohammad Noor, has been appointed Nunis’ assistant.