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Monday, Nov 3, 2014

Sports

Mathavan is new hockey president

The New Paper | Monday, Nov 3, 2014

Newly elected Singapore Hockey Federation President Mathavan Devadas (left) and Deputy President Ramesh Appoo.

To grow the base of hockey players and increase the number of hockey clubs in Singapore.

After last night's annual general meeting (AGM) at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium, the task of reinvigorating Singapore hockey now lies in the hands of newly-elected Singapore Hockey Federation president Mathavan Devadas and his team, and the work starts now.

"Our immediate priority is the South-east Asia (SEA) Games next June," Mathavan told The New Paper, after the three-hour AGM last night, as he wants the national team, silver medallists at the 2013 edition in Myanmar, to pose more of a threat to defending champions and regional powerhouses, Malaysia.

"We want to do well and so we need to give full support for the national teams.

"In the next two years, we want to focus on two growth areas, which is to grow the base of players and increase the number of clubs in hockey."

The election was the first in a long while that all 10 key positions were contested.

Mathavan defeated Sinderpal Singh by 20 votes to 11 and takes over from K Ramamoorthy.

Ultimately, the lawyer, who was part of Ramamoorthy's team as vice president, wants Singapore to make an impact at the Asian level, after disappointing outings at the last two Asian Games when the national team finished in the bottom two out of 10 teams.

But first, he will have to persuade the Singapore National Olympic Council that his teams deserve to be at the next Asiad, in Jakarta 2018.

He said: "After the SEA Games, we will talk to the coaches about how to programme for the 2018 Asian Games. Ideally, I would like both the men's and women's teams to be selected by the SNOC for the next Asian Games.

"We will find ways to give them the necessary competition to get the results to convince SNOC."

LACK OF INTEREST

He also addressed the lack of interest in the local hockey league and the struggle to find sponsors.

Mathavan cited a successful revamp of the top-tier league, which no longer requires teams to have age-group squads to compete, as cause for optimism.

"Some teams without junior squads have very good teams and players," he said.

"There is an increase in teams and matches because they can now participate and they have made the league very competitive and we have one of the most exciting leagues for both the men and women for a long time.

"Our national players are thus exposed to different styles without having to travel overseas and (they have) played far more competitive matches.

"As for sponsors, they are not easy to come by. We will look into more marketing using technology and social media to reach out to the wider public to convince them that hockey is interesting and exciting. Come and watch, come and participate, and with that we try to bring in more sponsors."

At the community level, Mathavan wants to develop interest group programmes so that the sport is eventually included in the annual Community Games.

He also wants to promote indoor hockey as a solution for schools to overcome the inability to book regular hockey pitches and hopes to work with ActiveSG to develop a viable veterans programme.

While it was thought that the Delta Stadium would become a rugby venue, nothing has transpired and the hockey pitch there remains intact.

And the new SHF chief said: "I also really want to keep Delta Stadium as a hockey venue and get the pitch changed because it is a central location and it is a huge benefit to the hockey fraternity. I'm going to work very hard with SportSG to try to do that."


This article was first published on Nov 1, 2014.
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