Hockey superstar Jamie Dwyer backs Singapore youngsters
One of the sport's greatest, Aussie signs sponsorship deal with four young Singaporeans
From the Champions Trophy to the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, Jamie Dwyer has starred in all of them, and won it all.
Indeed, the five-time International Hockey Federation (FIH) Player of the Year is the star of men's hockey and he underlined his credentials just two weeks ago - at the Hockey World Cup.
Dwyer slalomed past two defenders before finding the back of the net to score the final goal in Australia's 6-1 World Cup final win over Holland.
It was a huge shock when the 35-year-old was dropped from the Kookaburras' squad ahead of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (July 23 - Aug 3), with the selectors opting to go for younger players.
While he is "disappointed", it has not dampened his enthusiasm to promote the game.
Dwyer was in Singapore for a two-day trip under the banner of his 16-month-old hockey equipment brand JDH.
"I've always loved hockey and I haven't retired, yet. JDH gives me the opportunity to give back to the sport and help young players out," Dwyer told The New Paper, before flying off on Monday night.
"I just want the sport to keep growing - not just in Australia and Holland where it is relatively big, but also in places like Singapore and Bangladesh."
JDH has signed four young Singapore national players - Nur Ashriq Ferdaus, Silas Abdul Razak, Laura Tan and Gene Leck - on one-year equipment sponsorship deals that will also see them receive personal training sessions.
While dates have yet to be confirmed, Dwyer will be back in the later part of the year to conduct coaching clinics, hold a hockey carnival and put on an exhibition game featuring some of his World Cup-winning Aussie teammates, and a Rest-of-the-World side of some of hockey's best.
"I will be back here to conduct clinics, bringing along with me players from Holland, some of my Australia teammates, and maybe some Indian players as well," said Dwyer.
"You don't always get top-level games here and we'd like to show how hockey can be played at a higher level - the top level - and Singapore is an easy place to make that happen."
Former Singapore international Paul Lim was instrumental in bringing Dwyer to the Republic, and he is looking forward to the events that JDH will bring to Singapore.
"The aim of all this is to give back to the community and that's why we've looked to bring JDH here," he said.
"The four promising Singapore players have been earmarked for sponsorship because part of JDH's vision is to nurture young talent and also to grow the sport."
JDH is focused on making ideal hockey sticks, and its growth in the last 16 months has seen it break into four continents, surpassing Dwyer's expectations. While he also runs the Jamie Dwyer Academy - aimed at grooming the best juniors aged 16-21 - he is not quite done terrorising defenders for Australia.
"I didn't expect to go to Glasgow, to be honest, but I was disappointed the way I found out... I think I deserved a face-to-face chat, or even a phone call, but I got an e-mail at 11pm before finding out at 7am the next day that Ric (Charlesworth, Australia head coach) had retired," he said.
"Am I good enough to go to Rio (Olympics in 2016)? I think I can be among the top-16 Ausssie players, but if I'm not happy with my performance, if I can't keep up to my own standards, then I will retire."
The culture in Singapore is not very supportive towards sports, it’s not the best place to be an athlete. Hearing him speak is very inspiring, I want to keep going and getting better, to be the best player that I can be — I’m star-struck.
— Laura Tan, vice-captain of the Singapore women’s team, one of four national players who will be backed by Australia hockey great Jamie Dwyer