Singapore (from our correspondent) – Singapore does not hide its wealth. Tall modern buildings resemble the downtowns of the largest American cities, with expensive shops, luxury restaurants, and street stalls with local snacks below them.
The impression of the grayness of the crowded houses is enhanced by the amount of greenery in the streets, which is recorded by the local climate. The streets are completely clean, but even spitting out chewing gum is punished here. And a lot of people too, but multicultural Singapore is third in the world in terms of population density.
The participants of the championship also enjoy themselves in many luxurious surroundings. At its Singapore premiere eighteen years ago, the players had to take an elevator to get to the gymnasiums for matches, had their dressing rooms in offices and sweated in non-air-conditioned halls. Now the entire championship is located in the Sports Hub, a complex that Singapore can envy in most countries.
Six smaller multi-purpose halls dedicated to everything from table tennis to judo to floorball. Right next to it is the National Sports Arena for 12,000 fans, also well known to Czech fans.
Eight years ago Petra Kvitová fought here at the tennis Masters, MMA wrestler Jiří Procházka famously defeated Brazilian Teixeira here last year. Now the Czech floorballists also want to leave their mark in it, the championship will move from smaller halls to weekend medal fights in the arena.
The center of the complex is the 55,000-capacity National Stadium, where the world’s best football teams gather every year for an exhibition. All connected by paths with canopies, the existence of which visitors will appreciate especially in the winter months.
While temperatures stay in the mid-thirties all year round, the monsoon season lasts from November to February. And how heavy downpours can be, the participants of the floorball championship already knew well…
By awarding the event, the international federation monitors the development of the sport on the Asian continent, where it is part of important multi-sport events. “Singapore’s candidacy was very high-quality, in addition, Asian and Oceanic teams go to Europe all the time, so there was an effort to balance it out,” explains Filip Šuman, vice president of the International Floorball Federation.
For the European participants, the event was understandably more expensive, with some teams from the lower performance groups, the players even paid for their participation at least partly by themselves.
And it will be more expensive for the international federation, because, for example, the television signal is prepared by a completely European company. “As floorball is terribly fast, if someone else filmed it, it wouldn’t look good,” explains Šuman, who was the head of Czech floorball for many years.
The organization is still successful, but in Singapore they also have experience in organizing the Youth Olympic Games, where tennis player Jiří Veselý and judoka Lukáš Pulkrábek won gold medals 13 years ago. “One of the heads of the Youth Olympics is also in charge of organizing the championship. It is organized by the company that organizes Formula One here,” says Šuman.
But the promotion is significantly lagging. You will come across the first poster with the championship logo as far as the hall, which corresponds to the number of spectators. Understandably, they were not expected to be as high as in floorball countries such as Sweden, Finland, Switzerland or the Czech Republic, but the reality in mostly lower hundreds of fans is even worse.
“We feel slightly disappointed that there is no superstructure in the form of intensive promotion. At the same time, floorball is the second strongest sport in schools here, they know it, so I think it’s a shame,” admits Šuman. After all, the Youth Olympics thirteen years ago also struggled with low attendance.
Surprise only positive
For female players, visiting Singapore is a rare experience, however, most of them have not traveled further than Scandinavia with floorball. Therefore, they prepared for all the specifics of Southeast Asia in advance so that nothing would surprise them. And it worked.
“We were worried about some things, but there is no problem with that. For example, in the direction of the local cuisine, we gave instructions on how we need to eat, and in the end we have excellent comfort at the hotel, food close to European. So if it’s a surprise, then a positive one,” praises coach Lukáš Procházka.
Photo: Martin Flousek/Czech floorball
The Czech floorball players will have many memories and photos from Singapore.
When his wards were given two days off by the championship program, they were given a pass to one of the tourist attractions. In the evening, they went to Gardens by the Bay with natural trees and the so-called Supertrees, i.e. giant structures in the shape of blossoming trees, between which a footbridge leads. With lots of lights and Christmas music.
“We waited for the night show, which was beautiful. Singapore is really a different world, I’m glad that thanks to the championship we can see it,” defender Nela Jiráková appreciates.