A Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College (Maktab Sains) player (R) dribbles the ball past a Tanjung Maya Secondary School player during their National Secondary Schools Sports Festival Hockey Championship match last year. BT file
National hockey coach Berandai Dadong. BT file
The national hockey team is currently preparing for the Malaysia Games (SUKMA) to be held in May.
Currently in its 17th edition, this year's multisport event for Under-21 athletes is slated to be held in Perlis from May 26 to June 4.
In a recent interview with The Brunei Times, national coach Berandai Dadong said he is hoping that the hockey team will be given the green light to compete this year.
The team will need to play a test match to determine whether they are at the standard to feature at the annual games - similar to the scenario they faced in 2012 before the Pahang SUKMA that year.
The country did not send a hockey team to the 2012 SUKMA after notching one win and one loss in a two-part match-test series against the senior team.
"There will be a test match conducted by the Department of Youth and Sports, just like what happened two years ago," said Berandai.
"It will be held in April so we need to keep the current squad together as they have been training since December.
"But we might hold a trial after the test match just to look for some new young players to be included in the squad," he added.
Last year was a quiet one for the national hockey team following the renovation of the National Hockey Stadium at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas which started in March before reopening in November.
The National Hockey Stadium last week hosted the Inter-school Hockey Tournament, the competition kicking off last March but put on hold due to the renovations.
Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) College beat Pengiran Anak Puteri Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah Secondary School 2-1 for the boy's title while Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College (Maktab Sains) eased past Sekolah Tinggi Perempuan Raja Isteri (STPRI) 7-0 to win the girl's category.
SUKMA is not the only tournament the national team is aiming to compete in this year, having also set their sights on the Borneo Cup and Brunei Invitational Hockey Tournament which are set to kick-off in October.
This will be the first time Perlis will be hosting the Games, with the state urging its residents to prepare to receive some 8,000 athletes during the event.
"Only Perlis and Kelantan have yet to host this prestigious event," said Perlis Chief Minister Azlan Man in previous report in The Brunei Times.
"As such, everybody must play a role to ensure its organisation is truly excellent," he said, promising that construction of all sport facilities will be completed before the Games.
He added that the people should give a memorable experience to the athletes and officials as well as tourists descending on Perlis, not only for SUKMA but also for its beauty and cleanliness.
Azlan was speaking at a ceremony that was aimed at creating awareness for SUKMA among Perlis residents.