U-18 boys make tchoukball history

The Singapore Under-18's Chua Zhi Yong scoring against world No. 1 Chinese Taipei in the final.
The Singapore Under-18's Chua Zhi Yong scoring against world No. 1 Chinese Taipei in the final.PHOTO COURTESY OF NICHOLAS TEO

They may be playing an obscure sport but Singapore's Under-18 boys' team made history on Sunday when they claimed their first title at the World Youth Tchoukball Championships held at Singapore Polytechnic's Sports Arena.

Even better, they won it by beating world No. 1 Chinese Taipei - whose senior side have bagged all but one world titles since 1984.

The hosts, ranked second in the world, started fast out of the blocks to lead from the opening period.

They held on for the historic 47-43 win to bag the U-18 title over seven other nations, including powerhouses Italy and the Philippines.

Said head coach Jeff Ang: "Few countries have come close to beating Taipei in the past 30 years.

"Even their 15-year-olds are capable of beating other national senior teams. It is the first time we were able to hold ourselves in the match against them."

The 43-year-old, who also coaches three other school teams, lauded the boys for their commitment.

"The seed of this success was planted three to five years ago.

"At least 75 per cent of the team are graduates from the U-12 and U-15 teams. The boys have made great sacrifices between their training and school work."

Ang is looking ahead to the Republic doing well in next year's Asia Pacific Tchoukball Championships.

"The senior team are competitive but we will lose two to three players to national service every year, so some of the U-18 players will have to step up and compete for a spot in the national set-up," he said.

In other age-group finals, Singapore U-12 and U-15 boys were defeated by Chinese Taipei 24-43 and 29-68 respectively.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2015, with the headline 'U-18 boys make tchoukball history'. Print Edition | Subscribe