SINGAPORE - For 50 years, no woman had won the Coach of the Year gong at the Singapore Sports Awards. Until Wednesday night (Oct 28), when former national women's floorball coach Louise Khng made history by becoming the first to win the prestigious accolade.
She beat five men - Gao Ning (table tennis), Mulyo Handoyo (badminton), Kirill Ivanov (shooting), Stephan Widmer (swimming), Jason Yeong-Nathan (bowling) - to the trophy.
On her milestone win, Khng, 37, said: "It really opens up the field for female coaches out there to strive to be really good coaches, to be there for their athletes, and to know that no matter what they do, they will be recognised eventually."
Under her guidance, the floorball women placed 12th at the 2019 World Floorball Championship in Neuchatel, Switzerland in December 2019. It is the team's best performance at the world meet.
Currently ranked world No. 14, the women's team were also rewarded for a stellar season last year when they were named Team of the Year for the second time, ahead of the only other nominee, the men's national softball team.
Aside from the World Championship result, the floorballers also retained their SEA Games gold medal at the 2019 edition in the Philippines.
When asked what was the key to her team's progress, Khng said: "I think it's heart work.
"We all focus on the hard work everybody puts in, but it's really about the heart that everyone has to achieve what they want to and reach their maximum potential.
"I don't think (heart work) is a legit word, but for us that's it - all the sacrifices and commitment everyone has done over the years."
Former co-captain Debbie Poh, who called time on her career after the World Championship, called the award an "extra high" for her after the team's landmark performance.
She said she hoped the award would provide impetus for the women's team as they prepare for three major tournaments in 2021 - the Asian Indoor Games in Thailand in May, qualifiers for the World Championships in Japan in June, and the world tournament if they earn a berth, in Sweden in December.
She added: "I just hope the current ladies just continue to work hard for the nation and for themselves, regardless of the result."