At 36, Quek still floors all opposition

At 36, Quek still floors all opposition
Singapore forward Jill Quek's stylish dribbles leaving Thai players trailing in her wake during the SEA Games floorball final, which the hosts won in a penalty shoot-out.

Her quick turns and close ball control caught the attention of an adoring home crowd, but Singapore's Jill Quek also won over International Floorball Federation (IFF) president Tomas Eriksson during the recent SEA Games.

In an e-mail interview with The Straits Times, the Swede reserved high praise for the forward. He said: "The standout player of the Games for me was Jill. She is an outstanding player and role model for young players to look up to."

Quek, the 36-year-old elder stateswoman of the Singapore team, started in the sport even before some of her younger team-mates were born.

Her talent caught Eriksson's eye when he was on a visit to Singapore almost two decades ago, and left a deep impression on him.

"At 36, she is still able to perform on such a high level, which is awesome and amazing," he said.

While her performances drew wide acclaim from Eriksson and spectators alike, Quek refused to be drawn on the praise, saying: "I live in the moment. I will just enjoy the process of playing without looking ahead to the next game."

Yet, after 18 years, she shows no signs of stopping.

She said: "I didn't think that I would be playing for so long 10 years ago. I actually considered retiring in 2009, but I realised I still had a passion for the game.

"So as long as my body functions, I will continue to play."

A full-time floorball coach, Quek had actually coached 12 of her 19 team-mates in the SEA Games squad, a feat which she describes as a privilege.

One of her proteges was Natalia Wee, who scored the winning penalty in the final shoot-out against Thailand last month.

The 21-year-old cites Quek's determination and hunger as her top qualities, and also praised her role as a mentor in the team.

Wee added: "Being the most experienced member of our team, she gives constructive advice and feedback to the players, and it is very encouraging."

Having waited her entire career to take part in her first SEA Games, Quek is hoping to participate in 2017 should floorball be included by hosts Malaysia, whose men won the bronze last month.

But IFF president Eriksson revealed that despite ongoing discussions, the Olympic Council of Malaysia has not included floorball as a Games sport yet.

He added: "There is still time to go, the door only starts closing from September next year... It will be tricky in Malaysia 2017, but together with the Singapore Floorball Association (SFA) we are confident of our chances."

The IFF, which views increasing the sport's popularity in this region as the way forward, has already kick-started development work in Myanmar and Indonesia.

The gradual growth of floorball in the region and the rise of Thailand at the SEA Games have been welcomed by SFA president Sani Salim, who aims to continue developing the sport in the region.

The Republic has submitted its bid to host the Asian qualifiers next February for the Floorball World Championships, but Sani reveals that if any Thai bid were to come in, the Republic would withdraw its bid and assist Thailand in hosting the event.

However, the former national hockey player believes that a rejection of floorball as a medal sport in 2017 would not dent its long-term prospects.

Talks on including floorball in 2019 have already begun with the Philippines, the potential hosts of the Games then.

Calling for patience, Sani said: "We took about 20 years to grow the sport locally, it is all about the commitment and hard work.

"There is no short cut to success."

This article was first published on July 6, 2015.
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