Floorball: A debut to remember for ex-national hockey player Ishwarpal

Ishwarpal Singh (left) is hoping to go for his fifth SEA Games, this time with the Singapore national floorball team. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Turning out for Singapore's national hockey team from 2013 to 2019, Ishwarpal Singh collected two silver and two bronze medals at the SEA Games.

But the lanky defender, 28, is not done yet in his sporting pursuits.

On Tuesday (May 31) Ishwarpal made his bow for the national team who thrashed Malaysia 8-2 in their opening World Floorball Championship (WFC) Asia-Oceania qualifier at the OCBC Arena.

It was a debut to remember as he scored the Republic's second goal in the fourth minute to reclaim the lead at 2-1, after picking up a loose ball in his own half and bulldozing past the Malaysian defence.

Running to the corner and standing with his chest puffed out and arms folded after scoring, Singh said: "It's a great feeling. When I scored, I just wanted to celebrate with my team and just thank the fans for coming."

While he still enjoys hockey and continues to play the sport at a club level, he is psyched up by a new challenge.

"Floorball is a growing sport and the association is doing a great job of growing it in Singapore. I also wanted a new challenge because I have done quite a few tournaments in hockey," said Singh, who picked up floorball in university in 2016.

On his transition, he said: "Floorball is a lot quicker. You have to think on your feet a lot faster. It was challenging at the start, but I think I have good teammates and coaches who guided me along the way. It has been very fun."

Admittedly, it has also been a fine balancing act for the geriatric doctor at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and he is grateful that his department and residency programme have allowed him to attend training and take leave for the tournament.

"It's not been easy because I do have to rush over from both sides," he added. "Thankfully, the coaches have been very understanding of my schedule."

Singapore coach Lim Jin Quan praised his commitment, saying: "He is a player with a good work ethic and that is something precious to have. That's definitely the demand of all national athletes.

"Despite having multiple commitments, there is a need to balance both sides and that is a challenge and the sacrifices needed are beyond measure. It has definitely been a joy having him."

Captain Kumaresa Pasupathy was also proud to see his teammate perform and score on his debut.

"I think it was really wonderful. One of our younger players, Cheang Jia Qing also scored his first goal for the national team and everyone celebrated every goal we scored. Each goal meant a lot to us because every single player has been working very hard so they thoroughly deserve all the goals," the 26-year-old defender said.

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The Republic's other goals came from Player of the Match Foo Jun Wei, defender Amirul Azri Azman, forward Lee Chee Yong, Nicholas Chua and a brace from Vignesa Pasupathy, brother of captain Kumaresa.

Their contributions have given Singapore a bright start to their WFC qualification campaign in Group H, which also saw Thailand thrash New Zealand 10-1 on Tuesday. In Group G, Australia beat Japan 4-2 while the Philippines defeated South Korea 3-2.

The top twp teams from each group will qualify for the WFC in Switzerland in November, something that Singh has set his sights on.

"Personally, I aim to at least try to go for one world (championship) if possible, and maybe play at SEA Games as well," said Singh, as he eyes another medal from the biennial meet.

Tickets to the WFC qualifiers are available here, starting from $6.

All WFC Asia-Oceania qualifiers are livestreamed via the International Floorball Federation's YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/iffchannel

June 1 matches:

Group G

11am: Japan v Philippines

4pm: Australia v South Korea

Group H

1.30pm: Thailand v Malaysia

6.30pm: New Zealand v Singapore

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