S'pore floorball teams off to a sizzling start
Singapore's men and women's floorball teams stake claims for gold
The sports hall at ITE College Central was packed to the rafters yesterday.
The turnout was much larger than organisers had expected, and supporters had to sit along the steps and on the floor.
"Let's go, Singapore, let's go," screamed a bunch of primary school pupils watching from the gallery.
And the home crowd was treated to an outstanding display of prowess from Singapore's floorballers, who had a perfect start to their first official campaign in the SEA Games' history.
Two years ago in Myanmar, the men's and women's teams beat Malaysia in both finals.
But as it was just a demonstration sport, there were no medals to be won, only bragging rights.
This time, however, the stakes are much higher and so is the pressure.
Top scorer Ong Hui Hui, who bagged two goals in the women's team's 5-0 win over Malaysia, said that keeping a clean sheet was just as crucial as the win.
"That was one of our objectives today, and I'm happy that we achieved it," the 26-year-old told The New Paper.
Forward Suhaidah Yusof added that home support was instrumental in spurring her team to victory.
"In the past, when we went for competitions overseas, we never got much support," she said.
"So to be playing here in front of so many Singaporeans and hearing them cheer for us is really overwhelming and exciting."
Their male counterparts were even more dominant against the Philippines in a 17-2 thrashing.
The gold medal looks theirs for the taking, but captain Syazni Ramlee remained cautious.
"We are taking this competition game by game, so our focus now will be on Thailand," said the 24-year-old, who was also the top scorer with four goals.
"If we want to be champions, then we have to play like champions. And, if we play like we did today, we'll surely get results."
Singapore coach Saravanan Rajamanikam wants his team to stay focused for today's clash with Thailand, who thrashed Malaysia 6-2 yesterday.
The Thai team, with an average age of 19, featured players who did not know how to hold a floorball stick barely six months ago.
But they made an older and more experienced Malaysian team look like amateurs with their lightning speed, physical strength and relentless attacks.