Story and photos by Iman Hashim/Red Sports
Our Tampines Hub, Tuesday, May 24, 2022 — Beaten 1-3 by much-fancied Raffles Institution (RI) in the group stage, the boys from Victoria Junior College (VJC) made sure to approach the A Division floorball final against the same opponents with a renewed focus and strategy.
And they executed their game plan to perfection this time round, hitting the 2018 champions twice on the counter via Ammar Harith (VJC #25) and Anas Abdullah Baeesa (VJC #87) to emerge 2-1 winners and reclaim the championship trophy their school last lifted in 2017, and its fourth since 2009.
“Coming into this final, we only had the mindset that we had to overcome this mental challenge (of beating the same opponents), and we did, so I’m just really proud of my team,” said VJC captain Leon Lai (#46).
“We were all more focused compared to the group stage (game), we all kept to our coach’s plans and it all worked out well,” added the former Victoria School (VS) floorballer.
RI, four-time title-winners since 2014, had gone into the final as favourites, with a 100-percent win record over five games in the group stage, followed by a 8-1 walloping of Anglo-Chinese Junior College in the semis.
VJC, though, stood every chance, having won every other match apart from that group stage loss to RI, and emerged victorious in a 4-3 goals galore against defending champions Eunoia Junior College in the semis — avenging their seniors’ loss to the same school by the exact same scoreline in the 2019 final. The championship was put on hold in 2020 and 2021 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both sides exchanged a flurry of attempts throughout the first period in the final albeit with no change in scoreline, as both defenses held their fort well coupled with lightning reflexes by goalies Syed Anees Khalid (VJC #23) and Ranen Chong (RI #80).
RI, though, enjoyed the larger share of possession and this remained status quo in the second period of 12 minutes. With Tham Shi Ping (VJC #88) sitting on the naughty chair for two minutes for shoving an opposing player over the boards, the Rafflesians threw attack after attack on the power play but their efforts proved futile with Syed Anees (VJC #23) keeping out every ball that came at him.
The custodian’s heroics were rewarded as the Victorians finally broke the deadlock with 3:05 to go in the period. Latching onto the ball from his own half, Ammar Harith (VJC #25) went on a marauding run before unleashing a strike from outside the D which cued frenzied celebrations amongst the sea of yellow in the stands.
But with 15 seconds left on the clock before the final interval, it was back to square one with burly Rafflesian Koen Chua (RI #86) equalising for the boys in black.
With momentum in their favour, RI continued applying most of the pressure in the last period. VJC, however, stayed patient with their coach’s game plan, which — according to captain Leon (VJC #46) — was to “lure Raffles into our half and counter-attack.”
And their persistence paid dividends in the final 2:56 — one interception was all it took for the Victorians to escape the Rafflesian possession stranglehold, with Anas (VJC #87) finding the ball cusped in the blade of his stick a distance out from goal. He barely had to think twice.
“I got the ball at half-court, I dribbled up a bit, then after that I saw my teammate… but I decided to take the shot because we were lacking shots,” said the first-year VJC student, also from VS previously.
“I wasn’t really thinking… I just wanted to take the chance, and just score that chance, whatever we had, we just had to take it,” said Anas, who has been playing the sport since Primary 3 at Casuarina Primary School.
A deft drag and flick of his stick later, the ball bulged the net for VJC’s second and what turned out to be the championship-winning strike.
RI were handed a double whammy when they were shorthanded for bulk of the final 2 minutes 12 seconds, with Marcus Phua (RI #72) ordered to sit out as his teammates scrambled for another equaliser but to no avail.
“It’s awesome, we’ve been playing for so long together, so we really have that team spirit,” added Anas, who — along with many of his current VJC teammates — won the C Division floorball title for VS in 2018.
Meanwhile, RI captain Nedunchezian Selvajeevan (#7) was visibly upset after the match but still expressed pride in his team’s journey throughout the season.
“We gave it our all, we executed what we wanted to do… it just wasn’t for us today,” said the Year 6 Rafflesian.
“We wanted to press them hard, we wanted to win the ball, but they got us on the counter, both times. Today, our defense was lacking a bit, but I’m really proud of our boys… they worked hard,” he added.
National A Div Boys’ Floorball Final 2022
Victoria Junior College vs Raffles Institution
Score by Period
VJC vs RI
1st Period: 0-0
2nd Period: 1-1 (1-1)
3rd Period: 1-0 (2-1)
Ammar Harith (#25) — 1 goal
Anas Abdullah Baeesa (#87) — 1 goal
Koen Chua (#86) — 1 goal
VJC Team Roster
Amirul Hakimi (#10), Ammar Harith (#25), Anas Abdullah Baeesa (#87), Aris Haiquel Zulkarnain (#5), Ethan Chan (#20), Daing Muhammad Faraiz (#19), Damien Chin (#4), Dilaan Sivakumar (#2), Dylan Low (#13), Eason Kang (#12), Guo Xiaocheng (#18), Elshender Lee (#7), Leon Lai (#46), Mohamed Khidir (#3), Matthew Ng (#6), Jediael Poh (#29), Rai Avyaneesh (#67), Russell Tay (#11), Sooriyan Selvam (#14), Syed Anees Khalid (#23), Ethan Tan (#57), Tham Shi Ping (#88), Isaac Yong (#8), Aloysius Yong (#27)
RI Team Roster
Adriel Lim (#51), Brayden Chionh (#54), Chester Lim (#13), Chin Qi Sheng (#66), Chong Ray-En (#50), Ranen Chong (#80), Yannis Chong (#10), Henry Gani (#6), Gerald Nyeo (#30), Khew Tung Chuan (#99), Koen Chua (#86), Leong Jun Hao (#18), Gabriel Leong (#53), Muhammad Al-Wazir (#11), Nedunchezian Selvajeevan (#7), Jeremy Neo (#9), Nishant Balajee (#71), Osher Ho (#52), Marcus Phua (#72), Caelan Tan (#29), Travis Tan (#16), Thaddaeus Wu (#8), Thaddeus Wee (#92), Yar Zar Zaw Moe (#55)
More photos next page