Those watching the Men's Open competition at the 18th National Canoe Polo Championships yesterday could be forgiven for taking a second look when some of the games were on.
Of the 18 teams in action at the Singapore Polytechnic pool, two did not feature a single male player. They placed seventh and 12th overall, with most of them members of the national women's team.
Participating in the men's category was a necessary challenge for the national women's team, who are preparing for the World Championships in Syracuse, Italy in three weeks' time.
The sport has traditionally been dominated by powerful European sides such as Germany, France and Britain - hence the need for matches against men.
"To challenge ourselves, we decided to participate in the men's category to spar with more aggressive opponents," said Tan Li Ling, vice-captain of the senior women's team.
Captain Chad Ong believes that yesterday's results are a strong indicator of the team's consistency over the past year.
The 10-strong senior team emerged victorious at the biennial Asian Canoeing Championships in Hong Kong last year, toppling long-time rivals Iran, who had previously held the title for five consecutive meets.
Now the team are hoping to create another upset at the World Championships, which take place from Aug 29 to Sept 4.
They were 14th at the last edition and will face Canada, France and the Netherlands in the group stage of the 18-nation event this time.
"We're aiming for a top-five finish at the World Championships," said Ong, 35. "We've put in a lot of effort and made a lot of sacrifices.
"The goal of a top-five placing is one set by all of us, and I hope we'll be able to achieve it."
Punggol East CSC Rolling Canoe Club clinched the national men's Open title. Ten teams vied for the women's title, with NUS W1 emerging victorious.