The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

Photo by Hana Basir, SportPlus.SG

Almost two decades after Singapore first played host to the event, the world’s best floorballers returned to battle it out for the Women’s World Floorball Championships (WFC) title.

Off the back of a thrilling 12 months and the celebration of its first anniversary under the new Kallang Alive Sports Management, the Singapore Sports Hub welcomed another world-class event. Flexing its versatility, the OCBC Arena and Singapore Indoor Stadium set the stage for the top 16 female floorball national teams to vie for the sport’s biggest prize. 

Local floorball enthusiasts had the opportunity to watch the very best in action up close as they witnessed the intensity of the top-ranked teams competing live in front of them. 

Round-up of WFC Action

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

The biennial tournament’s group stage was contested between 16 countries divided into four groups. The top two teams of Groups A and B earned automatic placements in the quarterfinals, while the remaining teams played for their place in the knockout stages through a series of playoffs.

Defending champions Sweden, who led the world ranking, earned an automatic spot in the quarterfinals after dominating Group B. Similar to the Swedes, though not as merciless was the Czech Republic, who racked up their goals, scoring nine in each of their two wins. 

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

In Group A, world No. 2 Finland emerged as the first to qualify for the quarterfinals as they won all three of their group stage games while the Swiss, resilient and relentless, secured their quarterfinal spot after hard-fought victories against Latvia and Norway. 

Not all roads to the quarterfinals were paved with certainty as the teams in Group C and D put up a slew of thrilling matches for a spot in the final eight. 

In Group D, Japan finished top by the slimmest of margins with five points, leaving Denmark in second place with their hopes in the hands of the Estonians. It boiled down to the last day of the group stage games when the Japanese overcame Estonia to secure the top spot. The match was a tight one, with Japan having to come back thrice to ensure a 3-3 draw.

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

Despite finishing top in both their groups, Japan and Germany failed to progress to the quarterfinals as they lost to Latvia and Poland respectively in the playoffs.

Denmark, the 10th ranked team, defied the odds in an epic showdown against Norway as the two fought for a spot in the quarterfinals. 

Ranked three rungs higher, Norway were favourites but Denmark did not go down without a fight as they levelled the scores three times. It was Lina Voldby whose golden goal in overtime put Denmark through to the quarterfinals eventually.

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

All four quarterfinal matches were relatively one-sided as the lower-ranked teams were no match for their powerhouse opponents.

Eventual finalists Finland defeated Poland 11-2 while the Swedes beat Latvia 13-3. Denmark may have miraculously made it to the quarters, but their run ended in the hands of the Czech Republic. Switzerland downed Slovakia 8-4.

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

In the first semifinal, Finland thrashed the Czech Republic 8-2 as Veera Kauppi, whose twin sister Oona is also her teammate, electrified the Singapore Indoor Stadium by scoring four goals. Favourites Sweden were victorious against Switzerland in the second semifinal of the day.

With Sweden set to face Finland in a rematch of the 2021 WFC final, all that was left was a fight for third place honours. The battle between the Czech Republic and Switzerland for third place kept the crowd on the edge of their seats as they watched the Czechs come from two goals behind to eventually win it 4-5. 

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

While the Swedes started in merciless fashion, the final was not a close affair. In the first period, Sweden put six past goalie Noora Vuorela with a commanding lead. There was a shift in the tide however, when Finland started clawing their way back. 

Sara Piispa got the ball rolling as she scored in the second period as Finland then went on to score three goals in the third period. The Finnish fans waved their flags as chants of “Suomig” rang around the stadium. Sweden, however, were not to be undone, and proved they were number one in the world for a reason. Hope turned to despair for the Finnish players as Sweden held onto their lead and won 6-4 to clinch their ninth consecutive WFC title and 11th overall.

Team Singapore’s Brave Battle

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

As the world giants clashed, Team Singapore etched their own narrative on the global stage. With two wins and two defeats, they matched their best-ever finish, securing the twelfth place. The hosts got their campaign off to a strong start in Group C, downing France 5-2 and Australia 4-2 in front of their fans, friends and family at the OCBC Arena.

The Singaporeans put up a good fight against the Germans who sat three rungs higher in the world rankings. It was an end-to-end match that ended 3-2 to the Germans, as Jerelee Ong put Singapore in the lead after starting the third period all square at 1-1. The lead only held for about 20 seconds when Pauline Baumgarten equalised and teammate, Winona Jurgens delivered the final blow with six minutes to go. The loss meant that Singapore finished second in Group C.

Team Singapore’s chances of progressing to the quarterfinals were bleak as they were drawn against world number six, Slovakia. Siti Nurhaliza Khairul Anuar took the lead in the 10th minute before it came crashing down for the home side. The Slovaks put 11 past the Singaporeans with Mindy Lim being the other goalscorer for Singapore.

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

With that, Singapore was left to fight for a 9th-12th finish. After losing to Japan by a single goal, they then had to face Norway to play for 11th place. Despite the roar of the fans in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the hosts were no match for the Norwegians as they fell 13-1 in their final match of the tournament.

With their 12th placed finish, Singapore has now climbed one spot higher in the world rankings. The game also marked the retirement of Singapore’s Amanda Yeap and Yee Yun Shawn. Before the tournament, the two teammates carried over 100 caps combined, with Amanda having 61 and Shawn gathering 44.

The world’s best step into the rink at the 2023 Women’s Floorball Championships held at the Singapore Sports Hub

Beyond the Courts

Off the court, the WFC brought plenty of cheer and excitement for the fans. Not even the bleak weather could dampen their spirits or stop fans from flocking to the Singapore Sports Hub to cheer on their favourite teams and players. 

The popularity of floorball in Singapore was underscored by its participation, as the sport boasts over 100 clubs and 200 schools providing opportunities for over 10,000 active players today. 

Fans, friends and families of Team Singapore capitalised on the opportunity to support their loved ones in a prestigious international tournament on home soil, huddling in the OCBC Arena and Singapore Indoor Stadium – trying out the fringe activities and promotional booths including Unihoc products, while the WFC merchandise booth also proved a firm fan favourite as t-shirts and bottles were snapped up quickly.

As the thrills of the WFC are still ringing with Sweden crowned as World Champions once again, top class international sporting action continues as the Singapore Sports Hub hosts top rhythmic gymnasts from over 14 countries from 20th to 22nd December for the Bianka Panova International Cup at the OCBC Arena.

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