A total of 7 teams are participating, of which 6 have qualified to play for the 2012 London Olympics in July. The seven teams are Great Britain (ranked 4th), Korea (6th), New Zealand (7th), Pakistan (8th), Argentina (9th), India (10th) and Malaysia (13th).
Host Malaysia are the only non-qualifier. All games will be held at the Stadium Sultan Azlan Shah, Ipoh.
New Zealand (Black Sticks) was the first team to check in on Friday, May 18.
It played a practice match with Malaysia on Sunday evening beating the host 4-2.
It is scheduled to have another warm-up match with Great Britain before the start of the tournament.
According to Perak Hockey Association President, Dato’ Abdul Rahim Mohd Ariff, the annual tournament is an international invitational tournament where participating countries are required to send only their A team.
The headcount for the seven teams comes to over 200 players and officials. They will be staying at the Impiana Hotel, Ipoh for two weeks. A spokesman for the hotel confirmed they were “fully booked” for the duration of the tournament.
Besides the teams, media personnel too will require accommodation. SAS Media Officer, Satvant Singh said that due to Olympic-qualifier teams’ presence in the tournament more foreign media will be in town. “Usually there’re 8 but this year there’ll be over 20.”
Facilities at Stadium Sultan Azlan Shah are ready. The upgrades at the stadium included the change of the astro turf from green to blue and pink, the same as will be used at the Olympics. Additionally, a yellow hockey ball will be used instead of the usual white ball. All of these changes in colours will make the game more television friendly.
Another upgrade has been the covered spectators’ stand opposite of the grandstand.
“The total cost of all the upgrades is RM3 million,” said Rahim, who along with officials from JKR were at the stadium on Monday morning, giving the place the once over.
The tournament, which is being held during the 2 week school holiday beginning May 25 will also feature the National Indoor Hockey Tournament to be held at Stadium Indera Mulia from June 1-3.
Nineteen teams from throughout the country will be participating in the indoor tournament, seven of which are female teams.
The Asian Hockey Confederation will conduct hockey clinics at this time. Over 55 participants from several Asian countries have confirmed their attendance.
To take advantage of the huge number of visitors in town, Tourism Malaysia State Director Norshamsida Abdul Rahman, will provide a mobile tourist information counter at the Stadium from May 28-31.
With so many activities taking place during the duration of the tournament, this year’s event could turn out to be the best ever held.