Women set sights on a SEA Games medal

Unlike their male counterparts, the Republic's hockey women will not come under Sport Singapore's programme for additional funding, geared towards the South-east Asia (SEA) Games, held here from June 5 to 16 next year.  

But women's head coach Coen van Putten believes the side can win a medal on home soil, even if the women's game is suffering from a dearth of talent. 

"The women have potential, but generally speaking, Singapore has a lack of talent," said van Putten, bemoaning the lack of a progressive talent identification and development programme here. 

"We could do more with more money although there is enough to run a decent programme, but (still) there's not so much I can do except to work with what we've got here."

The Dutchman came on board in April last year, and his charges have played one tournament after another, a situation he insists isn't the most ideal for development.

The women failed to win a medal at the 2013 SEA Games, falling 1-0 in the bronze-medal match to a Myanmar side that picked up the sport only recently. 

But since then, Coen has been pleased with his team's development. 

"We've done things a little differently, investing time in strength and conditioning, psychology and skills development, and I've been happy with that," he said, revealing that there has also been a rejuvenation of the team, with younger players joining the fray and older ones stepping aside. 


In a couple of weeks the new-look national team will face their first competitive test since the SEA Games, at the FIH World League Round 1 (see box), but they will have a few friendly matches before that - Hong Kong (June 15), Malaysia (June 19) and Kazakhstan (June 20) - to fine-tune their systems. 

And van Putten is optimistic.

"The players are very committed, they work very hard, and there is a good atmosphere in the team," he said.

"What gives me confidence is that they choose to be part of this and they know what needs to be done."