Women's hockey: Expansion for tri-series?

The Project Group (TPG) International Tri-Series women's hockey tournament kicked off on Monday at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium and features top teams like Olympic and world champions the Netherlands, world No. 3 Australia and world No. 8 Germany.

And as the inaugural competition draws to a close today, plans are under way to make the tournament an annual event, with the likes of South Korea (No. 9) and New Zealand (No. 4) already expressing their interest in appearing in the next edition.

But even with the demand, Paul Lim, chief executive of TPG and organiser of the event, revealed that the Tri-Series will only be expanded to a quadrangular.

He said: "It's a bit of a nightmare to handle a number of teams and we'll try to increase it to a four-country competition but I think that will be the maximum."

Dutch head coach Alyson Annan also agreed with the decision to keep it small, saying: "I think the tournament is very well run for a first-time tournament and if you want to do too much too soon, then it can go wrong."

Lim, a former hockey goalkeeper for Singapore, believes that the small-scale competition can benefit Singapore in the long run.

"We've never had such high-calibre teams in Singapore before. This is the first time the locals are seeing such top teams here," the 34-year-old said.

"It will be beneficial for Singapore because it will inspire our locals to play and pick up the sport.

"I hope players will improve their skills because they now know that such a high level exists and I also hope they can aspire to be like these players and play at a top-class level."

Apart from exposing the public to such high-level competition, Lim also got the Australian team, the Hockeyroos, who are sponsored by property and construction consultancy TPG, to conduct a clinic for members of the TPG Academy Elite, which consists of national hockey players, as well as for the TPG Academy Development Squad, made up of players mostly from the schools and clubs.

He said: "Our local players sometimes train so hard in a certain way but they don't see improvement. So you get these international stars to just tweak their skills and our players find that things are a little easier. It's the little benefits like these that they will get.

"This is something they won't get with anyone else, because these are current players with the necessary skill set and they know how to tweak things so that it's easier to play on the field."

The six-day tournament has also earned the thumbs-up from the players and fans, who have been averaging about 500 a night.

German goalkeeper Yvonne Frank said: "The weather is very difficult for us to play in because it's very hot, but it is good in helping us improve and adapt to different conditions.

"We are also up against very strong opponents which is good for our development and strength, so it's always good to play them and when you look at the competition as a whole, everything is well organised and we want to come back."

Banking analyst and 29-year-old hockey player Kenny Tan agreed, saying: "It's not often we get to see some world-class tournaments here in Singapore.

"This (the Tri-Series) is good because we can expose players and the public to the high international standards that can bring up the standard of hockey in Singapore."

The Tri-Series concludes at Sengkang Stadium today (7pm), with Australia look to avenge Wednesday's 0-2 loss to the Netherlands. Entry is free.

This article was first published on January 23, 2016.
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