National petanque captain Mazlan Hj Yahya (4th from R) posing with the national team prior to leaving for the Asian Petanque Championship in Bali, Indonesia. BT/Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh
National captain Mazlan Hj Yahya is leading the national petanque team out at the Asian Petanque Championship in Bali, Indonesia today.
Mazlan is joined by eight new players, Awg Badarudin Hj Murni, Masli Hj Mohammad Said, Hj Mohammad Sahmedeyn Hj Kahar, Hj Mohd Azlan Hj Awg Jali, Hjh Syahrinawati Yahya, Muslinah Amran, Nurhafizah Abdul Razak and Norhani Hj Juna at the October 22-28 tournament.
The team will be competing in two categories at Bali, the triple and shooting category, and Mazlan's experience will come in handy for both events.
"The Brunei Darussalam Petanque Federation (BDPF) decided to include me in the team only last week," said Mazlan in an interview with The Brunei Times prior to the team's departure at the International Airport in Berakas on Tuesday.
"It was rather late but I am always ready for any tournament as we have been practicing continuously over the year," he added.
Mazlan was a late inclusion in the national team following his Southeast Asian (SEA) Games snub last month.
Travelling with the team were manager Hj Abdul Karim and Hj Ahmad and head of delegation, Abdul Ghani Dato Hj Ali.
Despite his omission from the SEA Games team to the Dec 11-22 tournament in Myanmar, Mazlan insists he will do his all to continue contribute to the squad in Indonesia.
"My mission in this tournament is to help the new team. All players here are new and this is their first time competing outside Borneo," said the captain.
"With the experience that I have, I hope that I will be able to help them to be more confident and ready," continued Mazlan.
Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, India, Japan, Madagascar, Mongolia and New Zealand are among the teams that will be joining the rest of the ASEAN countries at the tournament.
Brunei's best achievement was winning silver in the triples event during the 2009 edition of the tournament held in Bangkok, Thailand.
The team of Mazlan, Pg Hj Asmalina Pg Hj Asmalina and Mohd Abdillah Tamin were denied gold by Vietnam in the final, losing 13-5.
The country has reached the last eight for the past three years.
Brunei's only representative in the shooting category, Masli is hoping that he would be able to at least reach the quarter-final stage of the tournament.
"It is difficult to set a target now as this is only my first time competing in a tournament like this, and I have no idea how good my opponent is going to be," he said.
"Coach Somsak (Juychunprasert) won't be with us at the tournament, but we have a senior player like Mazlan to help us out," he added.
Somsak is currently in Thailand preparing Hamidon Hj Hamid, Zunaidi Ali and Hj Yussof Mohammad for SEA Games in Myanmar in December.
The three players left with for a 37-day training stint in Chiang Mai on Oct 14.
"We are looking forward to training with the best petanque players in Thailand," said Somsak in a prior interview.
"It is very important to send the athletes out to train with the region's best before a big tournament such as SEA Games as it will help them to build their confidence.
"We have a lot of young and new faces in the team and they are very good and talented,'' said Somsak of the team that Brunei is sending to Bali.
"All the players that are selected for this tournaments are those who finished in the top eight of the recent Pan Pacific Championship that Brunei hosted," he added.
The Asian Championship is an annual tournament organised by the Asian Petanque and Sports Boules Confederation.