Floorball targets SEA Games nod

Singapore's Ahmad Afzal Mohd Kassim (left, in red) and Mohd Hafeez Mohd Kassim (right) in action against Japan during the Asia-Pacific Floorball Championship in February 2010.

SINGAPORE - Singapore is pushing for floorball's inclusion as a medal sport when the 2015 SEA Games are held here, a move that - if successful - is set to bolster the Republic's medal hopes.

The team sport, a type of indoor hockey which Singapore teams have excelled on the Asian stage, is slated to be a demonstration sport at the Myanmar SEA Games in December.

Said Sani Mohd Salim, president of the Singapore Floorball Association (SFA): "We are planning for floorball to be competed at the 2015 SEA Games.

"But it depends how many other countries (are on board) and if their floorball associations are affiliated to their respective National Olympic Committees."

Host countries have the prerogative to decide on the biennial event's sports programme, although the SEA Games Charter stipulates that it must have a minimum of 22 sports.

Also, at least four National Olympic Committees must participate in a sport or event for it to be included in the programme.

As Category 1 sports, athletics and swimming are compulsory while a minimum of 14 Category 2 disciplines - such as badminton and table tennis - must be included.

No more than eight sports from Category 3 - which consists mostly of traditional sports like kempo - can be pencilled in.

Floorball has yet to be included into the SEA Games Charter's list of sports but is likely to earn Category 3 status after this year's edition in Naypyidaw.

Said Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president Tan Eng Liang: "The vast majority of the sports that Singapore is likely to recommend (for the 2015 Games) will be Olympic and Asian Games sports."

There are already at least five countries in South-east Asia - Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines - active in floorball. Local coaches and officials are also planning to lend their expertise to Myanmar to help them start a team.

The sport, which originated in Europe, has gained a good local following in recent years, with about 15,000 active players.

The men's national team are Asia-Pacific champions while their women counterparts are fourth, behind Japan, Australia and South Korea.

Singapore Sports Council chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin, who is also the chairman of the Singapore South-east Asia Games Organising Committee (Singsoc), is also pushing for a shift away from traditional sports at the Singapore edition of the Games. But he noted it was important for the eventual programme to still fall within the SEA Games Charter.

"There has been some concern expressed by member nations that the SEA Games needs to be more disciplined in looking at sports within the Charter and that's first and foremost in our approach," said Lim, on the sidelines of a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony between Singsoc and the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers (Siso).

"We are looking at between 35 and 40 sports - sports that have appeal to the spectators, a following, those that we know Singapore and spectators will be interested in." But while Singsoc will have some time to confirm the sporting programme, it is moving swiftly to ensure that the Games will be run smoothly.

The committee will work with Siso to oversee the Games' development and implementation of risk management plans.

Some of the safety aspects they will review include the Games' infrastructure, event programming and haze management, which has come under the spotlight in the last few weeks.

Said Lim: "We cannot take safety and well-being for granted. We have an obligation to ensure we provide a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone."