Swede deal for local floorball academy
YFA's tie-up with Swedish Super League champions Storvreta will see both sides involved in tournaments and training camps
"We are always looking to help our players and coaches develop off the court and the YFA would be the perfect place for that."
- Storvreta president Ingemar Lundqvist on working together with Singapore's Youth Floorball Academy
Local floorballers from the Youth Floorball Academy (YFA) are set to have a magical Christmas in Uppsala, Sweden, thanks to a tie-up between the academy and Swedish Super League champions Storvreta IBK.
YFA will send two 13-member teams to the Dec 26-29 Storvreta Cup, the world's largest floorball tournament, and also for a two-day training camp under Storvreta's academy.
Those are set to be the first of many collaborations, after YFA became the first and exclusive Asian club partner of the six-time Swedish champions.
YFA CEO Norani Zaini said the partnership, which was announced last month, will focus on player development for the 500 youths and players with Black Wondersticks, the Singapore floorball club linked to their brand.
"We look forward to inviting Storvreta players and coaches to conduct training camps in Singapore and also share the Swedish floorball way and culture with our academy players," said Norani, 37.
As part of the deal, they will also make an annual trip to the Storvreta Cup, which hosted over 800 teams from Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, among other countries last year.
The group of boys will leave on Christmas Eve accompanied by Norani, co-owner Saravanan Rajamanikam and YFA coach Hafiz Zubir.
One of the boys, Caedan Tan, 13, is looking forward to playing alongside the international participants and Swedish players.
He said: "Their level of play is a lot higher, so it will be an eye-opener for us."
The Raffles Institution Sec 1 student is also excited about watching a Swedish Super League match live and catching Storvreta stars Valdemar Ahlroth and Alexander Rudd in action.
"It is my dream to hopefully make the national team one day and this is a way for me to learn more tactics, get exposure and gain an advantage over other players," added Caedan.
His mum Ivy Tan, 44, a part-time teacher, said they did not think twice about sending Caedan for the eight-day trip, despite having to fork out about $2,000.
"YFA is a nurturing academy and they made it as reasonable as possible to make it affordable. Cost has been kept to a minimal," she said.
"My husband and I believe in developing our kid's passion and going overseas will be very good exposure for him. We don't know much about the international floorball scene... But we see countless opportunities like exchanges, tournaments and overseas training camps.
"It also gives parents a chance to gauge our kids. It would be interesting to see where they rank against their peers in Europe."
Similarly, Mohamed Fazail, 39, was grateful for the partnership as he believes it will help his son Muhammad Furquan, 12, improve.
"I have already seen Furquan's progression since he joined YFA because of their training programmes. Being linked to Storvreta would definitely benefit my son," said Fazail, an operations officer.
The idea of approaching the Swedish giants for a partnership came after YFA owners Saravanan, Syazni Ramlee and Norani saw that European clubs were spreading their roots here.
In October 2017, seven months after YFA was established, Finnish club Classic set up their academy in Singapore.
Three months ago, Swedish club IBK Dalen also announced a joint Swedish-Singaporean team, IBK Dalen Moose, following a tie-up with local club Moose Warriors.
"We felt like our academy needed to progress in terms of training structure. We saw what our competitors were doing and realised that we needed to go to Sweden and approach the best in the country," said Norani, who flew to Uppsala with Saravanan last month.
Storvreta president Ingemar Lundqvist did not take long to agree to the partnership.
He said: "We want to help spread floorball internationally as well as look at how we can help benefit society as a whole through floorball.
"We're always looking to help our players and coaches develop off the court and the YFA would be the perfect place for that."