SEA Games: Floorball could be dropped if not enough countries compete
Singapore favourites, but so far only three teams are in the hat for the SEA Games
With just 52 days to go before the opening ceremony of the 28th SEA Games here, the fate of the floorball competition hangs in the balance.
If the discipline does not feature competitively for the first time at this year's Games from June 5 to 16, then it will almost certainly cost Singapore two gold medals.
Sources have told The New Paper that floorball, scheduled at ITE College East from June 9 to 14, could be dropped from the programme as there are not enough competing countries, or National Olympic Councils (NOC).
The SEA Games Federation Charter and Rules state that "a minimum of four NOCs must participate in a sport/event for it to be included in the programme of the SEA Games".
In response to a query from TNP, the Singapore South-east Asia Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) confirmed: "As of now, we have three teams for the 28th SEA Games floorball men's and women's competitions. We are hoping for two more teams.
"We will reveal the teams once we have finalised the list."
TNP understands that as of April 1, the NOCs of Malaysia and Thailand have included male and female floorball players on their list of SEA Games athletes that was submitted to Singsoc.
Singapore Floorball Association (SFA) president Sani Mohd Salim said yesterday it is trying to convince Indonesia and the Philippines to send teams.
Said Sani: "We are definitely concerned about the situation because we have planned for this since two years ago, and we are looking forward to contribute to Team Singapore's efforts and gold-medal haul at the SEA Games."
Floorball first featured at the SEA Games in 2013 in Myanmar but it was only a demonstration sport then and no official medals were given out.
Singapore were victorious in both the men's and women's competitions, beating teams from Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Since then, the SFA has sent coaches to neighbouring countries in a bid to raise awareness and promote the sport.
"We sent our coaches to Indonesia and the Philippines, and we also organised the South-east Asian Floorball Championship last December, when teams from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines took part," said Sani.
"We are trying all that we can to make it work and I'm optimistic we will be able to convince and secure enough teams for the floorball competition to carry on as scheduled."
As of 2014, there were 88 floorball clubs in Singapore, with 1,425 players in the men's divisions and 686 in the women's divisions, according to a report in The Straits Times last year.
This was a remarkable growth from a paltry total of 22 men's and women's teams registered in 2010.
The SFA has targeted two gold medals for this year's SEA Games.
As part of the preparations, the women's floorball team trained in Australia in February, while the men's team are on a stint in Finland and are scheduled to return on Friday.