Doing their best will no longer be enough when Singapore's national players take to the squash courts for competitions this year.
This mindset was far too lackadaisical and has to be eliminated immediately, stressed newly-appointed Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA) technical director Allan Soyza.
"Too often there's a tidak apa (it doesn't matter) attitude and that's the difference between Singaporean and Malaysian players," Soyza, who arrived yesterday from Kuala Lumpur, told The Straits Times.
The 40-year-old was Malaysia's national men's coach from 2009 to 2012 and its director of coaching for the next three years. During his tenure, the men finished fifth at the 2011 World Team Squash Championships while the women were third and second at the 2012 and 2014 editions respectively.
The Penang native said: "Our guys (the Malaysia team) would arrive early for tournaments to get extra court time and get themselves ready. They always have a specific target and know that failure has consequences. It was about professionalism and having the right mindset."
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Too often there's a tidak apa (it doesn't matter) attitude and that's the difference between Singaporean and Malaysian players.
ALLAN SOYZA, SSRA technical director, about the professionalism and right mindset he aims to instil in Singapore national players.
At world No. 181, Vivian Rhamanan is the Republic's highest ranked professional and Soyza noted that the country needed more full-time players to achieve its goal of winning a medal at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.
He added: "Fitness levels also have to be a lot higher to be competitive. And the players here need to be more tactically aware, more flexible in their style during matches."
He has signed a two-year contract and will work with three national coaches within the SSRA, including national coach Ibrahim Gul.
SSRA president Woffles Wu paid tribute to former technical director Sandra Wu but felt Soyza's experience was necessary for Singapore to reach new heights.
He said: "Allan has worked with many top 10 players and knows how to put in the structures needed to reach that sort of levels. He's also not afraid to make tough decisions and cull players if needed."
His reputation as a stern taskmaster among players and coaches across the Causeway was an over-exaggeration, Soyza said with a chuckle.
"But one thing they must learn to accept is constructive criticism. Negative feedback is not bad, it is simply pointing out areas that can be improved," he added.
He expected a higher return of medals at August's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur compared with the 2015 edition in Singapore, where the hosts won one gold, one silver and four bronzes from five events.
The Games will feature nine events - women's jumbo doubles, men's, women's and mixed international doubles are the additions.
Soyza said: "Malaysia will be favourites for most golds but if we get our act together, there's enough talent here to win a few medals."