INDOOR SILVER .. Malaysian women pose with the Indoor silver won in Doha in April.
GERMAN Paul Lissek is so impressed with the Malaysian men's indoor hockey team, that he feels like hitting his head against the wall for not starting a programme 10 years ago.
For, the Malaysian team are new to the game and only took it seriously when it was included in the KL Sea Games next month, but after a short stint the men are almost 'professionals'.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) were initially shocked when the indoor game was included for the first time in the Sea Games, but took up the challenge, and now it might become a permanent fixture in the country.
"The players have only been training seriously for months, but are playing really well and I ask myself -- if we had started indoor 10 years ago, maybe we might have been among the medallists in the indoor World Cup," said former national coach Lissek who has been roped in as an indoor consultant as the sport is strange to local coaches.
The Malaysian men played in the Asian Indoor Championship in Doha in April and surprisingly, finished fifth. The champions are Iran, followed by Kazakhstan and Qatar.
"That was April, but only a few months down the line, the Malaysian men look like they could have entered the Asian final and even beaten Iran to the gold.
"That's how much they have improved," said Lissek.
And now that a team has been formed, and the first international standard indoor venue in the country has been built at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec), Lissek hopes the sport catches on like wildfire.
"Indoor is Malaysia's chance to stand at the top of the Podium in Asia, and in the long run a medal at the World Cup. So lets continue with the programme after the Sea Games."
As for the women, Lissek feels physical appearance could pose a problem.
"The women are also very good but a little soft physically and that could cause some problems in tournaments. However, we will only know their true strength after they play against Indonesia and Thailand in the Games," said Lissek.
Surprisingly, Malaysian women beat the odds to claim a silver in the Asia indoor Championship when they lost only 2-0 to Kazakhstan in the final.
The men will have a final warm-up against Australian side New South Wales in the first week of August and it will surely show their true strength.