Monday, July 12, 2010

Men's hockey coach quits

Team in limbo as Lim resigns just four months before Asian Games

SINGAPORE - The announcement came on July 2: The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) had overturned their original decision, allowing the Republic's hockey men to play at the Guangzhou Asian Games from Nov 12 to 27.

But even before the news had filtered through and celebrations could begin, the Singapore team had already taken a hit: Lim Chiow Chuan, the coach who guided the men to second spot in the seven-team Asian Games qualifiers in Dhaka from May 7 to 16, had already submitted his resignation just days before the SNOC declaration.

Lim was distraught when, on May 31, SNOC denied hockey a spot at the Games despite the team having qualified on merit - the snub being the last straw for the Malaysian.

"Even before the qualifiers, I was contemplating leaving but was certain I would only leave after the Asian Games, if we qualified.

"But when the SNOC decided not to send us to the Asian Games, I knew I had to move on and I wasn't going to change my mind even after they changed theirs," he told MediaCorp yesterday.

Lim has already accepted an offer from Malaysia but declined to furnish details due to confidentiality issues. His new employers will announce his appointment next month.

The Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) will appoint an interim coach to ensure the men's team continues to training in the run up to the Games, while sourcing for a full-time coach.

"The most satisfying thing in my four years here is seeing the players improve. We were pretty good at the Men's Junior World Cup last year, turning in very consistent performances," he said, adding that a silver-medal showing at last year's SEA Cup and the Asian Games qualifiers were some of his major achievements.

After hearing of Lim's impending departure, some players in the Games squad had contemplated quitting the sport but Lim is adamant they stick with the team.

"The boys must not stop playing, it would be very silly. The Asian Games are a big competition and they have to play for themselves and their country," said the 44-year-old Olympian.

Lim's (in blue) wish is for Singapore hockey to get more funding and that the players carry on in the sport. TODAY file photo

The squad have not trained since their return from the Dhaka qualifiers and their 3-1 defeat to Sri Lanka was Lim's last game in charge. He will head to Kuala Lumpur for the Asean Schools competition on Monday with Singapore's under-18 side.

Said Lim: "My wish for Singapore hockey is that they get more funding and that hockey players carry on in the sport."

Lim joined the SHF on Sept 1, 2006, and he will relinquish his role on Aug 31 this year after serving out a two-month notice, four years to the day he was installed as head coach.
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