Singapore stay positive despite goalball debut drawing a blank
There was no fairy-tale goalball debut for Singapore at the 8th Asean Para Games (APG) at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) yesterday.
The men's team were beaten 14-4 and 16-6 by Laos and Indonesia respectively, while their female counterparts lost to Myanmar 7-5 in their only match of the day.
The defeats, however, failed to dampen spirits inside MBS Hall D, and there were still smiles on the court and in the stands, with a capacity crowd turning out to show their support.
Although the men failed to complete their matches, with both games ending after their opponents claimed a 10-goal lead in the second half, coach Hansen Bay was proud of his charges' progress.
"They played really well," he said after the loss to Indonesia.
"Our shots are lacking in power, so we focused on getting as many shots on target as possible and forcing them to concede penalties, which they did.
"Most of our goals came from penalties, so they stuck to the game plan really well.
"In most of our international games, we actually lost inside the first half but this is as close as we've come to finishing a full game. I'm very proud that they were able to hold out up till the fourth minute."
In fact, the men did better than their coach realised as there were actually only 40 seconds left when the Indonesians reached their decisive 10-goal lead.
There were also plenty of positives for the women as they raced to a 2-0 lead against Myanmar inside the opening two minutes, and threatened to level the scores after falling behind.
Women's coach Nikita Sharda said: "It doesn't matter if we win or lose… It's our debut and the girls have come a long way.
"We came with the objective of getting 80 per cent of our shots on target and to play a composed game. I think they did that, so that's good enough for us.
"Now we want to focus on our other games as the other teams are quite strong, so we'll have to prepare ourselves."
While the Myanmar women's team ages ranged from 17 to 33, Singapore fielded 59-year-old Grace Ng and she even scored their second goal.
"I'm very happy and whether we win or lose is not important," said Ng.
"It's good fun and the supporters were also extremely motivating."
While a medal is not on the agenda for the goalball players, raising awareness for the sport in the country definitely is.
Men's captain Marc Chiang explained: "This is the first team we have teams playing goalball at the Games.
"We hope to introduce it to more people with visual impairments and convince them to come and join us.
"That way, we will have more young blood coming in to play."