Sports

Singapore men's softball team qualify for world championship

Singapore's national softball team have qualified for their first WBSC Men's Softball World Championship in Prague next year, after they finished third at the Asian Men's Softball Championship in Jakarta last Friday.

World No. 21 Singapore edged out the 35th-ranked Indonesia 10-3 in the bronze play-off.

They finished behind seven-time champions and world No. 3 Japan and runners-up the Philippines (17th).

This is the Republic's best showing at the quadrennial championship. They were fourth in 2014.

The result also propelled Singapore into the top 16 of the world rankings to earn a spot in next year's World Championship.

Captain Ivan Ng said his team's historic feat was a surreal accomplishment.

The 30-year-old catcher said: "There were tears of joy, an overflow of emotions when we beat Indonesia to finish in the top three.

"Qualifying (for the World Championship) only hit us a while later because to a lot of players, the thought of making it to the world stage never really occurred to them."

Having a structured training plan was key to the team's success, he added.

"We worked hard on our offence, our game plan was to train our players to handle tough pitches," said Ng, who was also captain of the 2015 South-east Asia Games squad that clinched a bronze medal on home soil.

He admitted that getting a podium finish at the World Championship in the Czech Republic is a lofty goal, as Singapore will be pitted against the world's best softball teams.

EXPOSURE

"We see it as a good experience and exposure for the team, especially the younger players," he said.

One of the coaches, Ulysses Mejia, agreed and said: "We will work harder to raise our level of play and put Singapore on the world map for softball.

"(But our main goal is to) contend for gold at next year's Manila SEA Games."

The women's team last qualified for the 1982 World Championship in Taipei.

OTHER SPORTS