Age no issue as Lim Jin Quan, 26, is named national floorball coach
SFA entrusts Jin Quan and assistant Jatin, 33, to lead men's team in July's AOFC Cup
Two years after calling time on his seven-year career as a national floorballer, Lim Jin Quan will don Singapore's colours again, this time on the sidelines.
He may only be 26, but Lim, together with newly appointed assistant coach Jatin Nair, 33, has been entrusted to guide the men's floorball team in July's Asia Oceania Floorball Confederation (AOFC) Cup in the Philippines.
Age is just a number for Lim, who is also the youngest coach in the men's floorball league.
While he has had nine years of experience coaching on the local scene, taking up various stints at schools and clubs, his selection as the men's coach may seem surprising, given a lack of credentials on the international stage.
This is Lim's second international-level coaching spell, his first coming at last year's Women's World University Floorball Championships, also alongside Jatin.
But Singapore Floorball Association (SFA) president Kenneth Ho maintains his faith in Lim and Jatin, explaining that the association wants to provide a platform for the younger coaches to gain exposure on a higher level.
Ho, 32, added that the pair have also been working with coaching consultant Timo Suonpaa, who helped to conduct a training camp for the team from last Thursday to Saturday.
The Finn, 44, has had years of experience coaching national sides, including as assistant coach in Singapore's AOFC Cup-winning women's team last year.
Ho said: "Jin Quan and Jatin may not have the experience of working with national teams, but they have been on the coaching scene for a good number of years and understand the culture and playing styles of our local players very well."
Lim coaches four school teams and four clubs, including Speedcond Eagles in the men's floorball league.
But his players from the recently promoted club are not eligible for the national squad as the association requires players to have at least two years of experience in the top-tier league.
The national coach's job - which is pro bono - became vacant when former coach Matti Joutsikoski moved to Switzerland.
Lim seized the chance, seeing it as an opportunity to tweak things after they finished last in last December's World Floorball Championship in Prague.
To him, finishing last was not a reflection of the team's ability, but an indication of untapped potential for the side that were named the Team of the Year (Team sport) at last week's Singapore Sports Awards.
He said: "I was aware of the difficulties as a coach but, if I want to see the change that I want in the future, then I better start becoming the change."
Lim has not wasted time in his first month in charge, making several changes already.
Clamping down on vulgarities is one example, as Lim highlighted that national players become role models when they represent the country.
However, his first few sessions in charge have not been without their challenges.
With the changes came resistance, but Lim and Jatin see it as part of the process.
Lim said: "I told them at the start I know the players didn't choose me to be the coach, but they chose to be here and they are here because I chose them.
"I want to work with them but they can have that choice too."
National defender Gary Wong, 27, believes that things will get better with time.
Wong, who was Lim's teammate in school and the national side, said: "He'll probably face some difficulties in getting the buy-in from the players because people may think that he's inexperienced as a coach at a national level.
"It will take time, but he has done a pretty good job overall."
Having been a part of the squad just two years ago, Lim has played with some of the current crop of players.
While he returns as a coach, he has tried to establish that there is no distinct divide, saying: "As a coach, I'm playing a different role, the demands of me are very different, but I'm still part of the team."
Together with Jatin, he has worked on facilitating better communication in the team, implementing a practice where the players record their reflections after each training session in a journal, sharing ways on how others can improve.
Jatin said: "Our reflections say what we could have done better, but we're not going to hold a grudge; we want one another to do better."
Preparations for the AOFC Cup have just begun but Lim, who was part of the team that were second at the 2017 tournament, is confident that they can challenge for the top spot.
He said: "We train our players like we want to be champions, we definitely want to aim to be champions."
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