SINGAPORE - The Republic finished a historic 12th at the 16-team Women's World Floorball Championship (WFC) in Switzerland in 2019 and Singapore's floorball chief hopes the team can better that performance when they play in front of the home fans at the biennial event next year.
"It will be good if they can do better than the 12th-placed finish they did a few years back. That's the aim with the home crowd support," said Singapore Floorball Association president Kenneth Ho at the ongoing Asia Oceania Floorball Confederation (AOFC) Cup at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Arena.
Singapore's Ong Hui Hui, who was part of the 2015 side that won the SEA Games final at a packed ITE College Central, knows how it feels to have a full house behind them and hopes for similar support when they meet the Philippines in the AOFC Cup final on Saturday (May 28).
"We have had a tough five day of matches and are physically tired so if we have that support tomorrow then that will be fantastic. It gives us an extra engine to keep going and play even harder," said the 33-year-old, after the Republic lost 3-2 to the Philippines in Friday's final group match. It was a dead rubber as both sides had already qualified for the final by finishing in the top two of the six-team table.
After losing their unbeaten record, Singapore coach Lim Jin Quan urged his team to look forward to the final.
"This match to a certain extent is a bit inconsequential. Tomorrow will be a game where the team will really play their hearts out and hold nothing back," said the 29-year-old, who replaced regular goalkeeper Shermaine Goh with reserve Lim Zhi Yan on Friday, hoping that it "would make a difference" in the final.
Philippines coach Noel Alm Johansson hailed the 3-2 win as "historic" and hopes for a repeat on Saturday.
"The players really did their best and played their hearts out today but the game tomorrow is more important for us. But still, I think no one expected this kind of performance from us. I think we have shown the teams here we are a good team," the 52-year-old said.
While Friday's attendance of about 100 was in stark contrast to the capacity crowd of 1,200 at ITE College Central for the 2015 SEA Games final, Ong was still heartened by the turnout.
"We've been through a tough two years with no competitive games and it is just wonderful to have the home crowd around and we hope to see more people tomorrow and have them cheer us on during the match," she said, after scoring in a match which Singapore lost despite equalising twice.
To make it more entertaining for the fans, half-time games for spectators were organised, something which pleased floorball fans like Stephen Huang, 38.
"It is a plus point to have these segments and I will definitely be coming down to support during next year's world championships," he said.
Aida Bengtsson, mother of Philippines defender Angelica Bengtsson, who came from Sweden to watch the match also took part in the half-time games. Winning some vouchers for herself, the 48-year-old said: "The atmosphere has been great. The event organisation is really good and the entertainment has made it very fun for spectators."
The Singapore men's team will also be in action next week at the OCBC Arena for this year's WFC qualifiers against Thailand, New Zealand and Malaysia, with Australia, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines in the other group.
The top four teams will seal their place in the WFC in Switzerland in November.
Women's AOFC Cup on Saturday (May 28)
5th placing : Singapore Under-19 v Indonesia (1pm),
3rd placing: Thailand v Malaysia (3.45pm)
Final: Singapore v Philippines (6.30pm)
Tickets, starting from $6, are available via Sistic.