Leonard Thomas: Singapore hockey needs major surgery after new low
I actually thought the days when a Singapore sports team would be massacred by a South-east Asian rival were over.
Then comes this 16-1 humiliation, on home soil no less.
Singapore hockey must be at one of its lowest points today and the sport's rulers here need to come up with answers to some tough questions.
Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) president Mathavan Devadas needs to address where exactly the sport is at right now and what is the blueprint to move forward.
Our men were beaten by their Malaysian counterparts 8-2 at last year's Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and, with just five months to go before the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil, our Causeway rivals have put us to the sword in even more emphatic fashion in a World League Round 2 mismatch at the Sengkang Stadium yesterday.
When asked last year why the national team should be given the nod by the selectors to go to the Asian Games, where there was little chance they would make any sort of impression, coach Solomon Casoojee said the matches against top quality opposition would give the players invaluable experience and improve the play, both individually and as a team.
Instead, the Singapore men's national team seem to have gone backwards.
Speaking after the match last night, Casoojee claimed the result was a one-off and that he was still up to the job.
The SHF must surely decide if the South African has taken the team as far as he can.
There seems to be a deep malaise in Singapore hockey.
Yesterday, The New Paper reported that Dutchman Coen van Putten had quit as coach of the Singapore women's team after he claimed he had had enough of the "bureaucratic decision-making" at the SHF.
The women failed to come home with a medal at the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar, going down to the hosts who turned in a spirited display to claim bronze in the play-off for third spot.
The men finished second two years ago but, if the mission is to push perennial gold medallists Malaysia very hard at this year's SEA Games in front of a partisan crowd, then that goal seems to be far-fetched.
Last November, lawyer Mathavan won his bid to become president of the SHF, pipping Sinderpal Singh by 20 votes to 11 at the national sport association's annual general meeting.
Mathavan was vice-president to the previous hockey chief, K Ramamoorthy, and had been involved in the sport in the 1990s.
He has vast experience as a hockey administrator and his margin of victory at last year's AGM suggests he has healthy support within the fraternity.
It means the current Singapore hockey chief has the power to institute major changes.
Only six of the 19 players in the current men's squad are over 24 years of age and Sport Singapore's The Final Push programme has been helping fund some players to go full-time ahead of this year's SEA Games.
A once proud Singapore sport clearly requires major surgery and this is an opportune moment for Mathavan and his team to begin the work to haul hockey out of a trough.