Aussie Viner to lead hockey women

He took up the reins as head coach of Singapore's national women's hockey team only in February, after Dutchman Coen van Putten resigned.

With just three months of preparation, Sunil Prasad still managed to lead the team to a SEA Games bronze in June.

But the 42-year-old Malaysian's tenure will end on Sept 30, as the Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) president Mathavan Devadas announced his imminent departure at the SEA Games appreciation lunch at the PSA Club yesterday.

He added that Australian David Viner will be Prasad's replacement. Mathavan said: "Sunil has decided against committing as a full-time national coach for the women's team due to his personal commitments.

"He has agreed to extend his contract for a further three months before the new coach takes over."

Mathavan said that SHF has been preparing for Prasad's imminent departure even before the Games.

He added: "We began looking for a coach in May, and have shortlisted eight out of 15 applicants from all over the world. And we chose David Viner, who will be joining the girls on Sept 1.

"We were looking for a coach who has experience with international teams, especially with women's teams. We needed someone with good developmental attributes and who will be able to understand the level of athletes we have here in Singapore. Given David's experience, we felt that he is most suited."

Viner, who is contracted till September 2017, was the head coach for the premier women's team of the Suburban Lions Hockey Club in Western Australia.

The 66-year-old had also coached the Belgian national Under-16 boys' team at the 2012 European U-16 Championships, as well as numerous coaching stints in Australia, Belgium and France.

Viner also had a long playing career in Western Australia, most notably with the University of Western Australia Hockey Club.

Prasad, who also spent four years as assistant to national men's team coach Solomon Casoojee, confirmed his departure and said: "My appointment as the head coach with the national women's side was unexpected, because we had only a short time before the SEA Games.

"It was not possible for me to commit as a full-time national coach, with my long-term commitments with other schools and clubs, which I have been coaching for more than 10 years.

"I do not know much about the new coach, but he was here during the SEA Games. The girls need exposure from international matches and have to be committed to improving as hockey players.

"He will be joining the team and I for September's Women's Junior Asia Cup but I will take a break from the national set-up afterwards. I will speak to him before deciding whether to continue with the girls or not."

National women's captain Chua Xinni, 26, welcomes Viner's arrival and hopes he can bring the team for more training stints in Australia.

She said: "Australia are much better in hockey than we are and hopefully, we will have the opportunity to learn from them.

"We look forward to gaining experience from training trips and maybe play with teams from Australia to improve ourselves."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 02, 2015, with the headline 'Aussie Viner to lead hockey women'. Print Edition | Subscribe