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Diamond in the rough

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Our Sporting Hero. My Neighbour. Enrico Elifh.

The Singapore men’s hockey team is a cut above the rest.

Despite recent events that might have led others to believe otherwise, the tenacious squad has not lost its fighting spirit, and has been working hard to keep that coveted gold medal within reach.

With the infamous 16-1 defeat to Malaysia at the Hockey World League Round Two still fresh on the nation’s mind, some have forgotten that the team, presently ranked a decent 38th on the global table, had obtained silver medals during the last two times the sport featured at the SEA Games, and also qualified for the previous two Asian Games.

Leading the team in its gold-medal charge at this year’s regional Games is captain Enrico Elifh Marican. An experienced player seeking to make a breakthrough in the sport, the 24-year-old remains upbeat and resolute in his quest for the title.

Picking up the sport while still in primary school, Enrico was called up to the national team at the age of 16, making his international debut as the youngest member of the silver-medal squad at the 2007 SEA Games.

In addition to two SEA Games and Asian Games, as well as this year’s Hockey World League, the veteran athlete, who also used to be a national floorball representative, had also featured in major floorball tournaments including the 2012 Men’s World Championships.

In fact, the diligent youth professes to have reaped the benefits of applying skills and techniques across the two sports.

“Some might say that I’m complicating matters for myself, but I find it to be an additional boost. In terms of skill, some of my movements are slightly different from the average hockey player or floorball player. [Being well-versed in both sports] gives me an edge,” he explained, adding that floorball had trained him to think and move more quickly on the hockey pitch.

However, after multiple international outings in both sports, Enrico has now chosen to place his sole focus on hockey, and will be raring to prove his detractors wrong with a gold medal at the SEA Games and, perhaps, a spot on an Australian league team.

Sharing his goals both for the team and for his own future, he said: “I chose hockey over floorball because it’s more competitive and more difficult for us to get a gold medal at the SEA Games. I have a fire in me [to] prove that we are good enough to get the gold medal.”

“My future will only be decided after my National Service, but I’m now looking to playing in Perth. The coaches there think that I’m good enough to be on their teams. It’s really encouraging to hear that,” he continued.

For now, however, Enrico will take on another mission on top of his duties as a national hockey player. As captain, he hopes to motivate his teammates to pick up from where they fell this year, and give Malaysia a strong contest for the regional title.

Remarking that he was excited to play Malaysia again, Enrico revealed: “What we learnt from our Hockey World League experience was that preparation is the most vital. We need to go through a sort of ‘hell week’, or intensive training, to know where our breaking point is, how to be more cohesive as a team, and how to move forward if we were to meet setbacks.”

“But I’m confident that we can get the gold medal if we play to our best,” he asserted.

Support Singapore during the 28th SEA Games hockey competition, which runs from June 6th to 13th.

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