Singapore hockey teams to play in Australian tournaments
Singapore hockey receives a huge boost after signing agreement with world giants
In 2013, a deal was agreed between the Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) and the government of Western Australia to work together to develop the sport of hockey here.
In April, Singapore-based property and construction consultancy firm The Project Group put pen to paper on a two-year arrangement to have the company's logo on the playing kits of Hockey Australia's (HA) national teams, the men's Kookaburras and the women's Hockeyroos.
Now, the Republic's hockey ties Down Under have taken a giant leap.
At the Marriott Hotel at Orchard Road yesterday, SHF president Mathavan Devadas and HA chief executive officer Cameron Vale signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will see the sport's giants help develop the game here.
It will involve exchange programmes featuring coaches, umpires and various officials sharing their knowledge and practices with Singaporeans.
The most exciting part of the deal - a three-year agreement which runs until Dec 31, 2018 - will see the entry of both the Singapore's men's and women's national teams into the Australian Championships, with the SHF aiming to send age-group teams to participate in one of the three age-group (Under-16, Under-18, Under-21) tournaments.
"Striking this deal with Singapore, above all other countries, was a no-brainer," said Vale, yesterday.
"It is a country where it makes perfect sense, with the existing political and economic ties both countries already have with each other, along with the presence of an Australian expatriate community and Australian companies down here.
"It makes sense, because the problems for hockey, even on the international level, are revenue and sponsorship.
"The factors I stated will help to get what we need (revenue and sponsorship for Singapore hockey), so I'd say that it is a strategic location to set up a partnership."
Mathavan believes the MOU with one of the sport's powerhouses is a big step in the right direction for Singapore hockey.
"We've done some preliminary studies and we are looking at the officiating, coaching and youth development side of things.
"A lot of the upcoming programmes will kick off in the next financial year, so we still have some time to work out the nuts and bolts with HA.
"We're looking at exchange programmes among coaching and umpiring officials, to learn from each other and share and exchange ideas... of course, perhaps the most important aspect of this agreement is the work that can be done among the country's age-group teams.
"It's a good step, sending our age-group teams to age-group tournaments, because it exposes them to high-level play that can benefit the sport nationally, which of course includes promoting grassroots programmes for hockey, particularly in primary schools.
"When we work closely on our grassroots and youth development, then we move on to the next step, which is high performance.
"Developing top talent, or even improving on our world rankings, will take much more than three years, so we'll see how our current arrangements develop."
Despite Singapore being minnows at hockey on the international stage, Vale believes the MOU will be a successful relationship.
"What we've got here is a no-lose partnership," he said.
"This partnership we've got in place is a significant and far-reaching one, and it will reap rewards as the years go by.
"What we want to do here is to help improve the local game from the ground up, and the best reflection of that will be in three years' time.
"We're not looking at climbing the world rankings with immediate effect.
"Improved conditions, along with player and coach development are more important to growing the sport than rankings alone."