Singapore Hockey looks forward to hosting the International Hockey Federation’s Men’s World League 2015, and expounds on its significance to the local hockey community.
The Singapore men’s hockey squad may be due to go up against some of the world’s leading teams at the Men’s Hockey World League in a few days, but they are nowhere near intimidated.
In fact, the boys are looking forward to crossing swords – or rather, sticks – with these international powerhouses at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium. The tournament will kick off its first set of Round Two matches this Saturday, and the participating teams include Malaysia and Japan, ranked 13th and 14th in the world respectively.
While it would be a challenge for Singapore to emerge as champion, the competition is of significance as it represents a good chance for our players to test their strength against worthy adversaries.
Viewed in part as a warm-up for the upcoming SEA Games, which will also be held at the same venue, the World League will be a useful platform for national men’s coach Solomon Casoojee to access the squad’s shortcomings and how well they perform when coming up against some of the world’s leading sides.
Casoojee is optimistic that the squad will have much to gain, as they generally face a lack of proper competition at home. The tournament will also bear witness to his enhanced coaching methods, which involves more guidance than instruction.
“We don’t play enough games at a decent-enough standard. It’s pretty difficult to play matches on a competitive and decent level here,” he said.
“I’m quite excited to see how the boys handle it because I’ve given them a lot more freedom for this event. The approach that we’ve been taking is less of a coach-instruction-based process but more of an athlete-problem-solving-based process,” he explained.
Indeed, the players themselves are raring to meet their rivals and to pick up tips while on the pitch.
“I feel that it’s going to be very exciting, and this [exposure to international players] is something that we don’t usually get in Singapore. And I think it’s going to be fun for the young ones to just come and watch how hockey is supposed to be played,” enthused team captain Enrico Marican.
Of course, in addition to the experience that they will gain, the fact that this tournament will be held on home ground makes it extra special for the boys.
Farhan Kamsani, the oldest player on the squad, is excited to share the fruits of his labour with his family and friends. Having played on the national team since 2005, the 28-year-old professed that it will probably be one of his last few chances to shine on the pitch at such a level.
“It’s a platform to show our family and friends. If the match is held overseas, they can’t get to watch how we play. On normal days, we spend all our time training, so hosting the World League will be a chance for us to show them why we train so hard,” he revealed.
On a more macro scale, the team hopes that this tournament would be an effective way of promoting hockey to the local community. In line with the hockey action that the nation will be seeing in the coming weeks, the SHF has plans to conduct clinics with schools in order to establish closer ties with them.
Hosting major competitions such as the World League also pose valuable learning opportunities. SHF’s General Manager Geraldine Yan is keen to tap on the experience of the event to eventually elevate Singapore’s status in international hockey circles.
“Administratively, we want to see where we are lacking, so as to be better prepared for the SEA Games. I hope that this platform will be able to test all our preparations, and put to task our skills and experience,” she remarked.
After the national team passes through the trials of the Hockey World League, who knows what’s to come in June? That SEA Games gold medal might just be within our grasp.