KUALA LUMPUR: After two seasons as assistant coach, former international S. Selvaraju was promoted as chief coach of the Pistoia club in the Italian Hockey League this season.

But the Covid-19 outbreak may have put paid to his chance of making his debut as chief coach. The Italian Hockey Federation (IHF) have informed him that the league has been postponed.

Italy is the European country which has been hit hardest by the virus.

More than 2,500 people have died in Italy and more than 31,000 are still in hospitals since last month.

Even the Euro 2020 football tournament, which was supposed to be held in 12 cities for a month starting on June 12, has been postponed to next year.

Besides Selvaraju, former national player Mohd Azri Hassan, who played for Terengganu in the Malaysia Hockey (MHL) which ended last month, was also supposed to feature for Pistoia Club.

The 35-year-old Selvaraju said he had been looking forward to the start of the season and hoped the postponement wouldn’t be for too long.

“The league was supposed to start this Saturday (tomorrow) but it will be held later this year. Italy is in a lockdown as the situation got really bad in the last few weeks,” said Selvaraju, who obtained his level three coaching certificate with the help of the IHF in May last year.

Selvaraju, who coached debutants Hockey Academy (Hockademy) of Kuala Lumpur in the MHL, is keeping his fingers crossed that the situation would improve in the next few weeks.

“I was looking forward to helping the players put up a strong challenge in the Division Two league but I am not sure whether the league will be held this season.

“To me, the safety and health of the players are far more important,” said Selvaraju, who played in Italian League in the last six years.

Raju, as he is known to his friends, made his debut for the national team in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2007 and was the member of the Malaysian team that won bronze in the Asia Cup in Chennai, India in 2007.

He played for Malaysia 99 times and his last outing was the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

He has also played hockey in eight different leagues. Besides Malaysia and Italy, he has played in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

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