It was a vow to his mentor who encouraged him to play hockey, which is the motivating factor for Mohd Shukri Mutalib to excel in the sport.
For it was his brother late Azizi Mutalib that encouraged him to play hockey when he was in standard four at Felda Trolak in Sungkai.
Azizi passed away after an accident in 2001 and Shukri vowed that he would make his brothers dream of him playing for the nation come true.
“My brother was himself a hockey player and I used to tag along with him when they played at the nearby field,” recalled Shukri who is a key member of the KL Hockey Club team.
“ If only my brother was still alive, he would have been proud of my achievement, especially the silver medal at the recent Asian Games.”
Shukri has been playing in the MHL since 2005 where he represented Bank Simpanan Nasional before moving to Ernst & Young the following year. He sticked on with KLHC, who are infact a continuation of E&Y.
“The league this year is pretty even as most of the teams have been preparing well in advance. Also the inclusion of foreign players has made it more competitive,” contends Shukri.
“As for KLHC, we had a late start in preparations as most of us were with the national team and only got together four days before the match against TNB.
“That opening match defeat jolted us and we realized that there was no such thing as an easy match in the MHL this season. Hence we intend to take every match seriously even though on paper we look superior.”
Prior to the MHL, Shukri played for Bandar Penawar Sports School in the Junior Hockey League from 1999 to 2001 after which the sports schools combined and played in the MJHL as a team from 2002-2004.
It was during the MJHL that his talent was spotted by former national coach Paul Lissek and Shukri was drafted into the national training squad when he was only 16.
And he made his international debut in 2003 against China in a test match played at the Tun Razak Stadium, at 17 years old, making him one of the youngest players to don national senior colours in recent years.
“It was tough to break into the national team and I worked hard to justify my inclusion,” said Shukri who has 135 caps to his credit.
“It remains a memorable moment for me as not only did I manage to earn my first cap, but I managed to fulfill the dreams of my late brother who urged me on in my hockey career.”
Though many of his teammates, be it in the national or club side have already settled down though they are younger then him, Shukri has no intention to do so in the near future.
“I am single and available so the question of settling down is far from my mind,” said Shukri who has two more years to go before he graduates with a physical education degree from Universiti Putra Malaysia.
“Besides my commitment to the family, I aim to get a steady job first as one cannot be playing hockey forever.”