S'pore floorballer Siti Nurhaliza off to a great start with Czech club
S'pore floorballer bags 3 goals, 3 assists and 1 Player of the Match award in first month with Czech club
She joined Czech Republic's top-tier club SC Tempish Vitkovice just last month, but national floorballer Siti Nurhaliza Khairul Anuar has already made a creditable start to her overseas playing career.
Since landing in Ostrava on Sept 7, the 20-year-old has racked up three goals and as many assists in four games.
Three weeks ago, the former NUS Titans star scored a hat-trick and made an assist when Vitkovice thrashed FBS Olomouc 20-0. In the process, she was named the Player of the Match.
Siti also contributed two more assists to help Vitkovice, the five-time Extraliga champions, top the 12-team table with a perfect record after six games.
The Republic Polytechnic sport and exercise science graduate told The New Paper in a phone interview that she did not expect to be scoring, saying: "It makes me want to do more, improve and work even harder."
But the speedy player was quick to add that she is still behind the curve.
Her Czech teammate, Barbora Huskova, has accumulated 23 goals and two assists, while Polish forward Dominika Buczek grabbed three goals and 11 assists, all in six games.
"I feel like I'm not matching up and I'm notches below my teammates… I'm physically and mentally tired because I have so much to work on floorball-wise.
"It was very intimidating initially because the tempo is five times faster and so physical…
"When I started, I actually flew out of the boards a few times," said Siti, who is the smallest in the team at 1.55m and 50kg.
"I also miss home a lot. I keep questioning if all this is worth it," she added, as it is the first time she's been away from her family for more than two weeks.
Nonetheless, she will stay resilient, hoping that her Czech stint will help her improve ahead of the upcoming major tournaments - the SEA Games floorball competition from Nov 25-Dec 1 and the Women's World Floorball Championship from Dec 7-15.
Although Siti has been critical of herself, Vitkovice coach Tomas Martinik told TNP that the new signing has met his expectations and has been "growing every week".
"Considering how big the change is for Siti, I have to say that is she is very well-adapted," he said.
"Her mentality also helped her fit into the team. Her teammates appreciate that she is trying to learn basic Czech words to communicate better."
On where Siti can improve, Martinik said she can be quicker in transitioning from offence to defence, and also in her decision-making within the "first three steps with the ball".
"There is not much time or space to get the ball under control," he said.
"There needs to be fast movement and the (main objective) in all situations is to move the game into free space and avoid any possible tussle for the ball."
Martinik said Siti also needs to put in more time at the gym to build up her strength.
"Opponents are rough and go for body contact," he said.
"Siti covers the ball perfectly, but needs to get better in her stick control and… the ideal thing is that she should do additional training at the fitness centre with focus on strengthening the body."
This comes as no surprise to Siti, who acknowledges that she needs to work on her physique, aggression and movement, with or without the ball, to better support her teammates.
She is already setting her sights on their next game on Oct 26, when they play Chodov, who also have won all six of their games, in a top-of-the-table clash.
Martinik is confident that Siti will keep improving, saying: "We are convinced that she will work hard.
"She has become a better player than when we picked her up at the airport, and we hope that she will keep working to be better and better."