2 minutes with...

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 12:00am


The 24-year-old is the first Hong Kong hockey player to turn professional. He has signed for a third season to play for the Royal Malay Regiment (RMR), a team based in Kuala Lumpur, after almost joining top side Penang in the Malaysian semi-professional league. Arif is one of four famous Ali brothers, who are considered the cornerstone of the Hong Kong men's squad.

Why did you sign for a third season with RMR despite being offered a decent contract by Penang?

I changed my mind at the last minute. Everything was fine with Penang, who are one of the top five clubs in Malaysia. But I found out that they only train twice a week. In the army team, we were training four times a week, twice a day, so I wanted to make full use of my time.

Are you disappointed that you will not play for a better club in Penang next season?

Not really. Everything was great when I was just about to sign for them. Everybody at the club was really nice. And they were very understanding when I decided to stay with the army team. But I had my reasons. I need to get something out of the season, which starts soon [on July 22].

Have you learned a lot during your stint in Malaysia?

I will be playing for RMR for a third season and so far it has been brilliant for me. I have learned a lot since I have been here. But there's a bit of a communication problem because everybody speaks Malay and not much English. But it is not a big problem for me. The first season I played for the army team, we finished eighth and last season we finished sixth, so we are improving all the time. We might just finish fifth in the coming season.

Your form must have picked up quite a bit since you started playing in Malaysia?

Before the start of last season, I was probably in the best shape of my life. We played Tanaga, who won the league last season, in our first game. I didn't know I had contracted dengue fever! I still played the game and it didn't occur to me that I had dengue fever until after the game when I felt really tired. Anyway, we did very well in the game and we managed to beat Tanaga 3-2.