Khairuddin Zainal: I made my international debut against Germany with a pair of borrowed canvas goalkeeper’s pads in the 1969 Pakistan International Hockey tournament in Lahore.
In this match I made such an impression by keeping the Germans from scoring, that Zain Azahari, the team manager decided to let me play the rest of the tournament although I was the reserve keeper to Leong Whey Phew.
Throughout the duration of this event, the borrowed pads from my club, TPCA, stood the test from the onslaught of some of the world’s hardest hitters of short corners.
When I look back to 1964 as a student of St. John’s Institution’ Kuala Lumpur, I was more of a footballer and had a keen interest in trying my hand as a hockey goalkeeper. But I was turned away by the hockey teacher who felt that I would not make it.
Though I never had the chance of meeting this teacher again after leaving school, I always wondered what he would have said if he knew that the boy he turned away became an international goalkeeper.
Hanging around TPCA Club, I was encouraged to try my hand at being a hockey goalkeeper. It was the late “Big” Shan (M.Shanmuganathan) who took me under his wing, while the late A.Arumugam gave me my first hockey stick in 1966.
After the Lahore tournament, I was gifted by Zain Azhari with a brand new keeper’s pads. It was the “Berg” pads from Germany, costing RM500 and it was top of the range which was used by all the leading keepers in the world. It was also the first of its kind in Malaysia.
Never having one of my own before, I not only took special care but maintained the pads with special care. It had to be painted daily to keep it dry and light. It came with sewing needles and thread and whenever there was a tear or the buckle came loose, I will stitch them back
I remember someone telling me that if I looked after my equipment well, it will serve you well.
How true this was as I wore these pads from 1970 until 1976 when I played for the national team and later in veterans tournaments until the 1982 Tasmanian Veterans tournament.
Alas I lost them to some Malaysian rats who made their home in my “Berg” pads and destroyed them by gnawing into it.