Hi my name is Leon, I’m a centre in the national team, I’ve been playing hockey for 15 years and currently I’m also the director of men’s development for the Singapore Ice Hockey Association. Currently we’re in preparations for the South East Asian games, the SEA games, which is in August in Kuala Lumpur. So Malaysia is hosting this year and they have added ice hockey as a sport this year so the team is all focused on that. So the team trains about 3 to 4 times a week of which 1 of those is off-ice conditioning where we go the sports hub area and we do physical conditioning basically running, PT. The rest of the time we’re on ice we have 2 on ice training sessions every week and the team also plays in the local league to gain game experience. So actually the team is split, because we have so many of us we’re split into 3 categories. The top tier are playing in the top division in the Singapore league, and the bulk of the team forms a team in the second division. The junior players and the younger players that are developing play in the 3rd division. So the national team trains at The Rink in JCube, and we only train after the rink has closed to the public. Typically training on weeknights will be at 9:45pm, and that runs for an hour to an hour and a half. Training on weekends, which is on Saturday nights will be at 11:45pm and that runs till about 1:30am so it’s a really big commitment for the players to commit their own sleep and their time to come down to the rink in the wee hours of the night to participate in training. We currently have about 35 players on the team of which 25 will be going for the SEA games. We have a good range of ages, the youngest player is 17 and the oldest player is in his early 40s. Of course with such a wide range of ages you have people from all sorts of backgrounds. We have people who are in the government sector, people who are working in the private sector, we also have students – university students, junior college students who are playing in the team. Most of us didn’t know each other before this, and we really got to know each other through hockey but I think one of the beauties of being on the team and training together day in day out for years, is that you get to know each other very well. So we’ve become family friends and we have a common bond which is hockey every week. My favourite thing about hockey is the physical nature of the sport. I think one of the beauties of a physical sport is that you really get a full body workout. You learn how to protect yourself you learn how to deliver physical play and it makes you stronger. O f course there’s always a risk for injury but overall it’s quite a safe sport and most people don’t get injured throughout their playing careers and you really build a sense of toughness. So one of the challenges that we face is we have a lot of players who are reaching the end of their athletic career they’re in their late 30s, early 40s and they’re going to retire soon or they should. The problem is that we don’t have enough youth players who are coming up we have about 1 or 2 players of every age group every year that’s moving up but we need to replace 4 or 5 players every year. So youth recruitment is a big problem we’re doing better now because we have a youth team, but youth replacement is still a big problem. The second big challenge that we face is funding as an up and coming sport, we don’t get a lot of funding from Sport Singapore. They subsidize a lot of our trainings but that’s not enough because there’re other fees that you need to pay to participate in international tournaments so getting funding is a very big problem for us. W e have the team doing a lot of crowd funding and we’re trying very hard to get corporate sponsors in to support the team on a year to year basis in cash and in kind so that the team is able to continue to function to continue to go for overseas tournaments and do well. There are a few ways to support the team, one is to sponsor the association and when you sponsor the association you can dictate that your donation should go to the national teams programme in doing that you are able to support both the men’s national team and the women’s national team as well as the youth national team. The second way is by coming down and showing moral support. The team plays games in the local league every Sunday and Monday at about 9:45pm. So if you’re free to come down and support the team that will show them that people are paying attention people are supporting them and that will go a long way. The third way is to buy these can you see these? So these are wristbands that we made and they go for $10 a piece and all the proceeds from the sales of these wristbands go straight to the team and they help to fund things like flights to the tournaments, as well as events here in Singapore to recruit more players and to recruit young players into the team. An easy way to get into the sport is to come down to the rink at JCube, and sign up for the Learn to Play programme. So if you’ve never skated before or just skated a little bit, and you want to learn how to skate properly and how to play hockey properly, the best way, the quickest way, is to join the learn to play programme. For youth we have rental equipment so there’s very little capital outlay to get into the sport skates, sticks, protective equipment, we have it all. For adults it’s a little bit more expensive, you have to buy a good set of equipment for yourself, but you can also come down and join the Learn to Play programme, and that will be your entry way. If you’ve played before overseas or in your younger days and you want to get back into the sport, another way is to write to [email protected] Just let us know that you’re a player let us know what’s your experience level and we’ll find a place for you to play. I think we have a good chance at the SEA games, we have a strong team this year, we have players who have been playing overseas and they have very good experience and very high skill level. We’re looking to get a silver, but you never know, we’re hoping for a gold.