Singapore women’s masters hockey team clinch gold at Asian Continental Cup
Just a month after her second SEA Games outing in Cambodia in May, Singapore women’s indoor hockey goalkeeper Phua Min Tze, 52, was itching for competitive action again.
And opportunity came knocking for the veteran, when she linked up with teammates Ping Tan and Maxine Chia to form Singapore's first women's masters hockey team, which comprises locals and expatriates aged 40 and above.
The team of 18 players then spent the following months juggling work and family commitments to train for the Asian Continental Cup in Hong Kong.
On Nov 26, their efforts paid off as the over-40 team emerged as champions in the regional tournament, fending off stiff competition from hosts Hong Kong, South Korea and China. The men’s over-40 and -50 teams won bronze medals in the same event.
Their Cup campaign appeared to be over after losses to South Korea and Hong Kong in the group stages, but the Singapore women progressed to a must-win elimination tie against Korea.
With the contest ending goalless in regulation time, it was Phua who came to the rescue with four key saves in a thrilling penalty shoot-out as they prevailed 2-1 to progress to the final.
We were determined to win this especially after many months of preparation and sacrifice.Singapore women’s indoor hockey goalkeeper Phua Min Tze (above)
Phua told The Straits Times: "During the shoot-out, my sole focus was on staying upright and agile, as coach Blaza (Wayne Blazejczyk) had emphasised, and what my fellow goalkeeper buddy Sally said to me: 'We can do it!'
"We were determined to win this especially after many months of preparation and sacrifice."
Singapore went on to beat Hong Kong 1-0 in the tightly contested final to avenge their earlier defeats.
Irishwoman Rachel Flynn, 43, who scored Singapore’s winning goal, said: "It's hard to describe, but in the moment my head was totally clear. Once I heard the bang on the backboard I just ran to find Priscilla (Koh), who had set the goal up.
"The entire squad's effort produced the outcome and that feeling of achieving something together is what keeps me playing team sports. Winning gold representing your chosen country is something on the next level. It means a lot."
The women's masters team will get another chance to don national colours at the Outdoor World Cup, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2024.
Coach Blazejczyk is optimistic about his charges’ chances at the international tournament. "The World Cup is certainly the main stage for this team and I think they can perform very well."