VIERUMÄKI, Finland – Participants from 46 countries are getting new experiences at the 2014 IIHF Hockey Development Camp to bring to their countries. One of the more exotic nations in hockey represented in Vierumäki is Singapore with Diane Foo.
“Currently we have about 25 registered women who play locally. In May 2013 we set up the first women’s team. We participated in the Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia in Hong Kong in November. It was great for them that they could play together but very often in Singapore women quit playing when they start working or get married,” Foo describes the state of women’s hockey in the Asian country of roughly 5.5 million people.
Because there are not enough players yet, the Singaporean women don’t play each other in a league but join men’s teams in lower divisions depending on their skill level. Forming a national team was a welcome exception for the players.
At the 2014 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia Division I the Singaporeans finished their first women’s hockey event in third place behind Hong Kong and Thailand but before the United Arab Emirates.
Foo, 36, was the most experienced player on the squad. And she knows hockey from many angles. She’s a player with the women’s national team and in a men’s minor league, she officiates in the men’s Division II league, volunteers as a secretary for the Singapore Ice Hockey Association and recently she got the certificate to coach.
Singapore has one Olympic-size ice rink located in Jurong. That’s where all games take place. But that situation is not always easy.
“We have difficulties getting ice time because we have other sport associations also booking it and they also want to open it for public skating. The ice time is usually very late like 11pm, midnight. And the cost is quite high and all players have to bring in the money to pay the ice,” Foo said.
Foo is the only Singaporean at the camp. In the Administrator’s Education Program she wants to learn more about organizing a federation and programs. The aim of the program is also to create domestic development programs that may be eligible for IIHF subsidies.
For Foo the first priority is to get more girls to get to play hockey after seeing program with kids’ hockey in Singapore.
“We want to achieve our project to recruit girls and women to play hockey. I can learn a lot of things about strategies and budgeting from our mentors and colleagues from other countries. We are learning from everybody we come across,” Foo said about the week-long program with classroom sessions and workshops.
“My project is to organize a girls’ hockey day for female players of any age to join our program. We have plans and we hope for support from the rink and the government,” she said and aims to organize the event this year.