Not a holiday on ice for them in Bangkok
Ice hockey team endure high costs, long hours, late nights to represent S'pore
High costs, long hours and late nights. But all that won't stop the national boys' U-16 ice hockey team from chasing their dream: to represent Singapore.
Aged between 12 and 15, the team - who are self-funded - train up to four times a week at the JCube ice rink, which translates to nearly $400 a month for each player.
Add that to the cost of equipment and overseas competitions and that figure easily rises to about $5,000 annually.
To defray the costs, the team train late at night to get more affordable rates at the rink, but it also means finishing past midnight on most days.
For the boys, it means sacrificing on sleep to prepare for school the next morning. And for the parents, it means doubling as their children's personal chauffeurs to get them home safely.
Despite the heavy commitment, parents like Candice Chua, 45, believe it to be a worthwhile investment.
The logistics executive, whose 15-year-old son Cael is the team captain, said: "My husband always says he would rather stinge on himself than stop our son from playing.
"The company (he keeps) is very important, and we are assured that with the team he will not go down the wrong path."
And while Cael professes to enjoy the thrill of the sport, he maintains that it is the company that keeps him going despite the obstacles.
The Jurong West Secondary School student said: "Not everyone can skate and there's this sense of accomplishment when you skate past bigger opponents.
"But what keeps me coming back are the friends and bonds that we share."
Next week, the team will travel to Bangkok for the Sept 3-7 South-east Asia Youth Cup, which features Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The trip will add another $1,000 to the expenses and, with it coming close to the PSLE and N-level examinations, what was originally a 17-strong squad has been reduced to 13.
To ease the financial toll, the Singapore Ice Hockey Association has started a fund-raising drive with the aim of collecting $30,000 for the trip and future development.
This will be the second time the Republic will be represented at the competition.
Last year in Kuala Lumpur, they were fourth after losing to Indonesia 8-6 in the bronze-medal match.
But coach Joewe Lam is confident of their chances in Bangkok next week.
The 28-year-old logistics sales manager said: "This is a golden year with a majority of our core having played for three to four years together.
"There is a high chance we can get a medal, and bronze or silver is definitely attainable."