“These boys surpassed themselves” as the Lions secured fourth in their 70th Gurdwara Cup journey
Photo: Singapore Khalsa Association

Singapore concluded their tournament with one win, two draws and two losses, but as those results may sound discouraging to the team’s performance, it was not something the Lions were disheartened about. Their primary target was to qualify for the semi-finals, and they have accomplished their objective.

  • ”The boys surpassed themselves”

Yes, the team met the objective of qualifying for the semi finals. However, the beauty was that these boys surpassed themselves and played above their own abilities to lead the team to greater heights, along the way creating confidence and belief that they are more than equal to their opponents,” mentioned Singapore’s skipper, Prem Singh

Losing out to Kuala Lumpur in the semis ensured the Lions a bronze medal opportunity, however they fell short to familiar opponents Perak with a full-time score of 2-0. Despite being the youngest squad in this tournament, the Lions received praises from not only their management, but from their opponents as well for winding up top 4 in the tournament.

The Singapore team was well organised in their play. They played with good structure and applied the total hockey concept,” as former Malaysian international Baljit Singh raised following Singapore’s performance in the campaign. As observant as Baljit got, he brought up how this young team could attempt to work on prior to future tournaments, “Some improvements which can be made is the team’s fitness as well as giving the youngsters more exposure by playing more hockey matches.”

A photo of Baljit Singh Charun in his hockey attire
A photo of Baljit Singh Charun in his hockey attire


Baljit Singh Charun is a former Malaysian international hockey player from 2007 to 2017. Right after he stepped down from the national stage, he continued coaching the sport that he loves, and is currently the Malaysian junior assistant coach.

Not only did Baljit praise the Lions, but Kuala Lumpur’s Pavandip Singh had compliments to spur about Singapore as well. “The Singapore hockey team played really well during the Gurdwara Cup this year. The teams in their group were good and qualifying for the semi finals with a young squad was already a good achievement for them. The junior players in the team played really well and we were surprised to see how much they have improved. They gave us a tough time and we were under pressure for most of the semi finals. It was a good hockey match between both sides”.

Pavandip Singh and his team then qualified for the finals of the Gurdwara Cup, securing joint winners with Johor. The match was called off due to inclement weather, hence the Gurdwara Cup Committee decided that the silver trophy shall be shared between the two finalist states of Malaysia.

Pavandip noticed as well, that these Lions have a bright future ahead, seeing their young players possessing good discipline and character in the sport and mentioned in an interview with Vavel Singapore, “I do not think there is much to improve. If the semi finals were played on turf, I think Singapore would have beaten us. They have a strong side and the young boys played well especially when they were led by very experienced senior players. The team played well overall but when it comes to a shootout any team can win. Give it two to three years and I think the Singaporean team could be champions”. 

Pavandip was also one to represent Malaysia in the international stages from 2020-2021. The Gurdwara Cup winner got involved in matches with the Malaysian national team against Japan and even Great Britain during the team’s preparation for the Olympics. He represented his country in the Junior World Cup in November 2021 and finished in eight place.

The only state Singapore faced that were not from their group was Kuala Lumpur in the Semi finals, which they lost out narrowly to in the shootouts. Johor head coach Sarjit Singh who had earlier analysed the Singapore team throughout the tournament, gave his feedback about the Lions as well following their loss.

Singapore was a good team with lots of young players. They played as a team, had good communication with each other, supported each other on the pitch, quick behind the ball as well as a good double team with two high level players, number 16 (Parveer Singh) and 7 (Prem Singh), supporting and guiding the team well,” mentioned Sarjit. 

Sarjit, who donned the captain armband in the Malaysian colours for seven years, led Johor to the finals of the 70th Gurdwara Cup, attaining joint champions with Kuala Lumpur as well. The notable hockey player featured in the Olympics back in 1984 as well as 1992. It was not just the Olympics, but with his outstanding intelligence and flair in his skills, he made the grade to the Asian all star team back in 1987 as well.

Hoping Singapore would break the walls to reach the finals from the Semi finals, Sarjit definitely knew what went wrong and emphasised further on what Singapore needed to improve, “ They [Singapore] need to improve on goal scoring opportunities. They need to have more numbers in attack, learn when to press and when to play 60 yards defences and need to know how to play with three high strikers, two high strikers and how to play with one high striker”.

A fourth placing was what Singapore could attain in this tournament, but the team left with only respect and praises from their opponents as well as the spectators. Henceforth, they were awarded the Fair Play award trophy from the committee. 

A tinge of bittersweet moment as we lose out on being in the finals by the finest of margins and it would have been good for the team to bring a medal home, but this team has left a legacy and brought back with them the respect of the opponents, spectators and officials which is the best accolade and honour and being awarded with the best fair play award for hockey seniors. The effort and desire of the team as a whole was the result that mattered in the end,” as a grateful Prem said following their team’s achievement. 

Prem also gave his thanks to his superiors and everyone else in the association who were in charge of the team as well as the support that was provided for the duration of the tournament, “the support of the Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA) management Committee to send up a team, the behind the scenes work lead by chairman’s sports, Mr Tarlok Singh, SKA sports committee and the SKA office staff, to look into the administrative and welfare of the Singapore contingent was vital”.

Special mention to Mr Sukvinder Singh who multitasked and wore three hats, Singapore Chef De Mission, Seniors hockey team manager and also the veterans football team manager. His good work and support was seen and recognised by all. To our coach Mr Bakri who kept all in line with his discipline and structured play and providing a playing platform for all the players and ensuring they all had a part to play to the success of the team”.

The team also gave their gratitude towards the team’s sponsors as well as the media group and supporters that covered the team’s Gurdwara Cup campaign, “To our kind sponsors for supporting the team with their apparel in a short period of time - Bavarian Marques Pte. Ltd, OneTwo@Pickering and Dreamatron sportswear. Lastly, to Vavel Singapore for taking the initiative and time to cover the team’s journey and to the great support from the veterans football team and supporters from Singapore and those that made their way to Ipoh to cheer on the Singapore contingent”.

It was definitely not an easy tournament for Singapore. This young squad definitely proved everyone wrong that they could have played even further from the group stage matches. With the guidance of the senior players in the team, their primary objective was definitely made possible to achieve with 100 percent effort. 

Prem Singh pushing out the ball during a penalty corner
Prem Singh pushing out the ball during a penalty corner


Captain Prem also commended the likes of three hard working players from the team, who no doubt stood out in terms of their discipline to always do better as well as lifting up the team’s spirits, “Everyone in the team did extremely well. There are two role models that all players can look to. They are Gurvinder Singh (Sunny) and Balvinder Singh (Bal). They have improved their hockey and brought their game to the next level through sheer hard work and being committed to training sessions on a regular basis. The third player is Parveer Singh who came into his own during this tournament and shone through with his all round dynamism and hard work during the games”.

Sportsmanship was also shown from the Singapore’s captain towards the opponents they faced as he reinstated the importance of such tournaments being valuable and effective towards their rivalry and bond, “thank you for competitive games and playing it out for the fans and supporters. The friendships and making new acquaintances, the coming together of the Sikh communities from all states after the Covid-19 situation was simply beautiful”.

Effort, desire, belief, strength in unity and working for a good cause and respect to the game of hockey, your teammates and opponents. These are always key aspects. Wishing them continued growth in the game and for the rest to acknowledge that if you do want to improve and step up, it all depends on oneself. The opportunities to train are always provided by the club,” as Prem concluded his last few words for the team with Vavel Singapore ahead of future tournaments for the team.