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Aussie boost for Singapore hockey

SINGAPORE — At the recent SEA Games held here, Team Singapore’s men’s hockey team went toe to toe against the top-seeded Malaysians (under-20 side), holding their Causeway rivals to a 2-2 draw before losing 4-3 on penalties.

World Hockey League 2015 match between Singapore (red) and Malaysia (yellow) at the Sengkang Sports Complex. Photo:

World Hockey League 2015 match between Singapore (red) and Malaysia (yellow) at the Sengkang Sports Complex. Photo:

SINGAPORE — At the recent SEA Games held here, Team Singapore’s men’s hockey team went toe to toe against the top-seeded Malaysians (under-20 side), holding their Causeway rivals to a 2-2 draw before losing 4-3 on penalties.

The plan is for the Singaporeans to take the fight to the reigning gold medallists when the Games are held in Malaysia in 2017, and the Republic’s ambitions have been given a huge boost with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) and Hockey Australia today (July 20).

While SHF president Mathavan Devadas said the target is for the men’s and women’s teams to win a silver medal each in 2017, they are also hopeful of giving the world No 12 Malaysians a run for their money.

“I think silver is definitely achievable for the men, we want to win back the silver for the women — the previous time we won the silver was in 1997,” said Mathavan. “We will try to close the gap in 2017, even though it will be very tough as it is in their home ground. I am sure they (Malaysia) have realised how close they were to losing this year. They will be better prepared.”

Singapore are currently ranked 38th in the world, and Mathavan is confident that the MOU with Australia, which boasts the world No 1 men’s team, will help in the development of hockey here. The partnership will see Singapore’s national teams competing in Hockey Australia’s national championships from 2016 to 2018, and its “Hooking2hockey” programme will be implemented into the SHF coach education programme and coaching. Umpire and coach exchanges will also be conducted between both associations.

“I see only positives from this. We have not had this opportunity before. It’s a wide spectrum of activites — officiating, coaching and youth development and high performance,” added Mathavan.

Cam Vale, chief executive officer of Hockey Australia, is happy to help in the sport’s development here, as he said: “If you look towards Asia, you certainly see Singapore a natural fit and there is no doubt Singapore is strong in the areas of government, tourism and education, but then you look at hockey, it’s probably where they need more support at this point of time. It’s a natural fit and this is a country where we can have an impact.”

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