M'sian City Life #23: I Play Ice Hockey For Malaysia

"It was in 2009 when someone first approached me to try out ice hockey."

Cover image via Chua Jien Yang/SAYS

Meet Chua Jien Yang.
He is a 27-year-old who plays ice hockey for the national team.

Chua recently clinched the silver medal in Division One of the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia (CCOA).

The talented young athlete has less than two years experience in playing ice hockey professionally, but it was noted that he has more than 10 years of experience in public skating.

As a child, Chua used to watch people performing graceful ice skating moves on the Sunway Pyramid Ice rink from afar. His admiration turned into a form of passion he decided to pursue.

When he was about 15 years old, Chua decided to give ice skating a try with his friends and later took up ice skating lessons.

"I am a person who loves the idea of freedom very much. Ice skating is a very relaxing activity once you master the skills," he said.

"On the other hand, another factor that made me learn ice skating was the determination to achieve what others can do."

Even before he owned his personal skates and picked up the skills, he looked up to those who were skating freely on the ice rink.

After years and years of refining his skills in public skating, Chua finally decided to venture into ice hockey

"It was in 2009 when someone first approached me to try out ice hockey."

However, due to financial constraints, Chua dismissed the idea and never had the chance to do so until about six years later.

"In 2015, I started playing ice hockey because my friends asked me to accompany them since they wanted to participate in the ice hockey school training."

Eventually, all his friends left the training school, leaving Chua alone.

"I decided to continue because I realised that it was pointless to get better in skating skills when I can go nowhere in public skating. It was also because I found some ways to get myself hockey gears at lower prices. I also started earning my own income to support myself," said the Mass Communication graduate.

"Although this is unpleasant, I'll have to admit this: ice hockey is an expensive sport," he confessed.

Chua explained that ice hockey is an expensive sport because Malaysia does not have ice hockey equipment manufacturers, hence it is almost impossible to source for the ice hockey gears locally.

"We usually have to order our equipment online from overseas, and these are usually much more expensive as they are shipped out of the manufacturer countries.”

Without strong financial support, one would struggle to get into this sport.

There are a lot of things to consider when venturing into ice hockey, particularly in terms of finances

Chua pointed out that an average set of hockey gears would cost about RM5,000 to RM7,000 excluding the maintenance fee.

Other additional expenses to consider are membership fees, the cost of buying new jerseys and the fees for training sessions.

Chua also spoke about how ice hockey is not only an expensive sport, but it is also very difficult to access, even for the hobbyists

Image via hiphippopo

"Malaysia is a country with no winter season. Hence very naturally, winter sports are not something the Malaysians have access to easily," Chua explained.

He added that countries with winter season would most probably have natural frozen ponds for outdoor ice hockey for the season, in addition to the fact that maintenance would be easier.

Due to the unfavourable weather conditions in Malaysia for ice hockey and the limited number of ice rinks in the country, it is definitely not a sport that is accessible to most people in the country.

In addition to the lack of accessibility, Chua also commented on how some Malaysians are still unaware about the sport, which makes it difficult to secure sponsorships

Team Malaysia clinched the Silver Medal in the 2016 IIHF Men's Challenge Cup of Asia Division 1.

Image via Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation (MIHF)

"Winter sports are too westernised for them. For friends who are more westernised, they are aware of what ice hockey is but still feel surprised and impressed when they find out that Malaysia has its own national ice hockey team."

"After winning the silver medal at IIHF's CCOA, most people around me were further surprised and claimed that it is almost unbelievable that the Malaysian ice hockey team is of international standard."

However, he is glad that ice hockey is slowly gaining recognition in Malaysia, as more Malaysians are made aware of the sport through game plays, promotions on social media and the national team’s latest achievement in the recent CCOA.

Despite all these obstacles, Chua has found his way into the national team with sheer determination and hard work.

However, as a dedicated ice hockey player, Chua still needs to hold a full-time job to financially support his own interest.

"I have an office job and just like any other typical office worker, my regular working hours is from morning to evening, or sometimes until night."

Despite his hectic working life, Chua considers himself to be quite fortunate as he is still able to attend most of the training sessions.

"However, nothing is perfect. Sometimes when training is scheduled earlier, I would have to skip the session due to work commitments."

Chua never thought that he could be a part of the national ice hockey team as he just started out as an amateur, but he has come such a long way in just a few years

"I started my basics by playing in local leagues, and I thought I will take years to get my skills sharpened up," he said.

He recalled how delighted he was when one day his senior informed him that he was selected to join the national team.

"I'm lucky to have all the seniors who generously share every single tip they know with me, and that makes every training a chance for me to improve."

"What makes ice hockey interesting, is when all the teammates work together towards the same goal."

Living in the city ain’t a piece of cake but it could also be exciting and adventurous. How are you coping? How are you making the best out of things? Do you have a story or experience to share?

SUBMIT YOUR STORY NOW, or work on it and send it soon. Share a personal experience, your story as an urban city-dweller in Malaysia, whether it’s yours or from someone you know, email [email protected] or FB message us.

We’ll get in touch with you for your story to be featured on SAYS!

Stay tuned for the next episode!

Previously on Malaysian City Life #22, Carl Lim shared about how his two-year-old daughter changed the way he perceived parenting: