Even before the first whistle of the World Cup, the Team Singapore of 2014 had already created many ‘firsts’ in the short history of TFAS:
# First time that Singapore is competing in the Team Open event
# First time that Singapore is competing in the U12 Individual event
# First time that Singapore is sending 4 players to the World Cup (the previous high was 2 players in 2012)
Team Singapore was proudly represented by Rudy Hesty Roselan, Bernard Lim, Luke Lim and Isaac Lim. Rudy and Bernard competed in the Open Individual event; while Luke and Isaac competed in the U12 Individual event. The 4 of them then competed in the Open Team event on the 2nd day of the tournament.
Individual Competition – 6 Sep 2014
Rudy was drawn into Group 2 of the Open Individual Competition against the likes of Saverio Bari (Italy), Lawrence Alvarez (Gibraltar) and Nuno Henriques (Portugal). Rudy got his World Cup campaign off to a great start by beating Lawrence Alvarez 3-1 to score his first World Cup goals and notch his first World Cup game win. This victory go some way to ‘avenge’ the defeat that compatriot John Ho suffered at the hands of the same opponent back in the 2012 Manchester World Cup.
In his second game, Rudy continued his fine form and built on the momentum garnered from his first game to narrowly defeat Nuno Henriques by a solitary 1-0 to take his second World Cup game win. With 6 points from 2 games, Rudy had qualified to the next round!! He had created HISTORY – being the first Singapore player to have made it out of the Group stage and qualified into the Knock-Out stage in a FISTF World Cup!!! … Bravo Rudy!! Congratulations!!
Having already qualified, Rudy took to the third game against Saverio Bari – the seeded player in the Group – in a super-relaxed mindset and mood. He was duly beaten 0-6 but no matter … as all the hard work has already been done as he prepared himself for the Last 32 knock-out round.
In the Last 32 knock-out round, Rudy was pitted against Luca Colangelo (Italy). Against the far more superior Italian, who went on to become 1 of the Semi-Finalists of this World Cup, Rudy put up a spirited display only to lose 0-8. While his World Cup campaign had come to and end, Rudy had certainly made a name for himself and definitely brought glory to Singapore!!
Singapore’s other player in the Open Individual Competition, Bernard Lim, was drawn into Group 11 against the likes of Chris Thomas (England), Angelo Borg (Malta) and Renato Kort Kamp (Brazil). Bernard’s maiden World Cup game was against the seeded player in the Group – Chris Thomas the England captain. Though Bernard displayed some deft touches and flicks to earn some praise from his opponent, the class and guile of Chris Thomas prevailed as Bernard lost the game 0-7.
Bernard’s next game was against Angelo Borg, a former top ranked U19 player who was playing in his first Open event as he was no longer eligible for the U19 event. Again, the class and skills of the Maltese youth was far far more superior as he went on a rampage to build up a superior goal difference. Bernard, unfortunately, was at the wrong end of a 0-11 thrashing which effectively ended his World Cup campaign after 2 games. It was indeed a ‘rude awakening’ for Bernard.
With his morale and spirits super-low from the manner in which he was knocked-out, Bernard approached his third game with a strong sense of redemption. He was determined to take some positives out of his maiden World Cup campaign and to restore some pride in representing Singapore after the 2 disappointing displays which he felt he had let down the nation. Against Renato Kort Kamp, Bernard regained his composure and restored some pride and confidence by putting 5 goals past his opponent to win 5-0; in the process scoring his first World Cup goals and securing his first World Cup game victory!!
In the U12 Individual Competition, our 2 Singapore junior players – Luke Lim and Isaac Lim were drawn into Group 5 and Group 6 respectively. Luke was up against Alwin Krause (Germany), Corentin Boltz (Belgium) and Jakob Gerstl (Austria); while Isaac was up against Tommaso Lazzari (Italy), Pierre Laquerbe (France) and Vasco Henriques (Portugal). It was a real eye-opener for Luke and Isaac to see the difference in equipment and concentration levels of European youths – while alot of our Singapore youngsters are still on beginner type bases, their European counterparts were already using professional bases. Their accuracy and skill level was another area of the game worth learning from.
Luke opened his maiden World Cup campaign against Jakob Gerstl and lost 0-3. His second game was against Alwin Krause, who eventually won the Group with 3 wins out of 3 games. Against the seeded player in the Group, Luke lost 0-4. Though already knocked out, Luke did very well to wrap up his World Cup campaign with a 0-0 draw in his third and final game against Corentin Boltz, 1 out of 8 of the eventual Quarter-Finalists. In so doing, Luke managed to record his first World Cup point and against a World Cup Quarter-Finalist at that!! Well done, Luke!!
Also on his maiden World Cup campaign, Isaac’s first game was against Pierre Laquerbe. Unfortunately, unable to re-produce his form in Singapore tournaments leading up to the World Cup, Isaac lost the game 0-2. Next up for Isaac was the seeded player in the Group – Tommaso Lazzari. The game started quite evenly and Isaac had numerous chances to take control of the game as his opponent started the game nervously. Alas, Tommaso was more clinical with his shooting and once he scored the first goal, the result was never in doubt. In the end, Isaac lost the game 0-3. With 2 consecutive defeats, Isaac had only his third and final game to salvage some pride. His final opponent was Vasco Henriques and again Isaac had the chances to take control of the game as he started the game more strongly. However, his shooting let him down again and he ended up losing 0-2. It was unfortunate that Isaac ended up empty-handed with no goals and no points to show.
Team Competition – 7 Sep 2014
After the ups-and-downs of Team Singapore in the Individual events the day before; Rudy, Bernard, Luke and Isaac were slated for the Open Team Competition on the second day of play. For Rudy, he had a fantastic day the day before and he was looking to build on it to further bring glory to Singapore. For Bernard, Luke and Isaac, they were looking for a much improved performance to redeem and give a better account of themselves.
Singapore was drawn in Group 1 along with Spain (1 of the top Table Football nations), Gibraltar and Switzerland. Singapore’s first match was against Gibraltar who was also made up of 2 adults and 2 youngsters to make for a evenly-matched contest. Bernard was up against Lawrence Alvarez (Rudy’s opponent in the Individual event); Rudy was up against Francis Avellano; while Luke and Isaac were up against fellow youngsters Niall Dean and Leon Avellano respectively.
Both games involving the adults were tight affairs, as Bernard and Rudy were both edged out by the odd goal – Bernard by 1-2 while Rudy by 0-1. Luke also lost 0-2 to his slightly older opponent. Isaac, on the other hand, put up a great performance – finally scoring his first World Cup goals and securing his first World Cup point in the Team event as he drew 2-2 with Leon Avellano (the U12 World Cup Quarter-Finalist in the Individual Competition) to put away the disappointments of the day before. Well done Isaac!!
Singapore’s next match was against the No. 1 seed in International Table Football – Spain. Rudy played against Carlos Flores / Juan Manuel Noguera; Luke played against Alberto Mateos Navarro; Bernard played against Jose David Somoza; and Isaac played against Antonio Jesus Casin. This match-up was more of a lesson in Table Football for the Singapore players. Except for Bernard’s game which was pretty well-contested with both players having clear-cut chances, the Spaniards comfortably won the other 3 games.
The final match for Team Singapore in the 2014 Rochefort World Cup was against Switzerland. Bernard was up against Leonardo Cavallaro; Isaac was up against Roman Bernhardsgrutter; while Rudy was up against John Imbrogiano; and Luke was up against Saverio Albano. Our 2 youngsters did very well and both lost narrowly by the odd goal – Isaac by 1-2 and Luke by 0-1. After their games, both of them felt that they could have actually beaten their Swiss adult oponents had they been more composed and more confident. Bernard fought out a tense 0-0 draw in a game which he had all the chances to score the winning goal to notch his 2nd World Cup game win. However, it was not meant to be as he squandered chance after chance and clearly left his scoring boots back home in Singapore. It was left to Rudy to salvage some pride for Team Singapore; as he secured Singapore’s first ever Team Competiton game victory by winning his game 3-1. What a fantastic World Cup Rudy had as he continued to write his name in the annals of Singapore Table Football history with yet another fine performance in the Team Competition following his history-making showing in the Individual Competition.
While their predecessors in past World Cups planted and flew the Singapore flag high, the Team Singapore of 2014 definitely created history and wrote many ‘firsts’ into the record books of Singapore Sports Table Football. By the end of the final whistle, they had added even more ‘firsts’ into the annals of Singapore Table Football:
# First time a Singapore player (i.e. Rudy) had won 2 consecutive games in a FISTF World Cup
# First time a Singapore player (i.e. Rudy) had got out of the Group stage to qualify for the Last 32 knock-out round
# First time a Singapore player (i.e. Rudy) had won a game in the Team Competition
# First time Singapore players (i.e. Bernard and Isaac) had secured draws in the Team Competition
# First time Singapore players (i.e. Rudy, Bernard, Luke and Isaac) had scored World Cup goals in the Team Competition
# First time a Singapore player (i.e. Luke) had secured a draw in the U12 Individual Competition
While Rudy was clearly the ‘star’ of Team Singapore at the Rochefort World Cup 2014, fulfilling both his personal targets and also that of the nation, it is worth highlighting the laudable efforts of the other 3 players who though not as successful, also contributed to the success of Team Singapore … Bernard met his personal target of scoring his first World Cup goals and securing his first World Cup game victory in the Open Individual event. Luke also met his personal target of securing his first World Cup game point in the U12 Individual event and scoring his first World Cup goals in the Open Team event. And Isaac also met his personal target of scoring his first World Cup goals and securing his first World Cup game point in the Open Team event.
In an exclusive interview after the World Cup, our 4 players shared their thoughts for the below:
Question: How would you describe your personal experience of representing your country in the Rochefort World Cup?
Rudy: Unbelievable dream come true. Felt like a young teenager going out on a 1st date, nervous yet passionate with the will to try to impress. Meeting all the big names in the modern Subbuteo and getting the chance to play competitive games (to name a few) with great players like Carlos Flores, Saverio Bari, Juan M Noguero and friendlies with legends players like Massimo Bolognino and Daniel Scheen plus Ladies top player, Trish Baumeler, and the most important of all was making many new friends and strengthening ties with the Subbuteo families from various part of the world, which really made the cross-continent, 16-hours journey a worthwhile and lifetime experience.
Bernard: Simply ecstatic!! … a boyhood dream come true to finally become a National Player representing Singapore in the Subbuteo World Cup!! For 2 days, I was living the dream of a ‘professional player’ playing for his country – this has been my dream since I was a little boy at the tender age of 9. To have finally achieved and done it on the biggest stage in International Sports Table Football (at the World Cup) is something that I will remember for life!! It has also been a very humbling learning experience for me; but it is an experience that made me better in terms of Table Football. I also met many new like-minded friends from around the world and had numerous friendly games with them – a great opportunity and an unforgettable experience!!
Luke: The experience makes me feel proud to represent my country in the topmost level of Sports Table Football and make new friends from not only a different country, but from a different continent as well. On overall, it was awesome.
Isaac: It was an exciting, fun and enjoyable experience. It was also a good experience to play against older and better opponents.
Question: Would you recommend other players to play in the World Cup? Why?
Rudy: Definitely yes, but be prepared mentally and physically. Mentally for the tough games you will encounter; you could end up being hammered by your opponents, personal experience – 0-6, 0-8 against the Italians & 3-8 against the Spanish 😉 . Physically for the long journey and quick succession of games. Nevertheless, all this are minor setbacks compare to the wealth of experience you will gain, by playing against world class players and watching the best playing.
Bernard: A BIG definite YES. For me, it was priceless to play against the best players in the world and to see up-close the difference in playing standards; the focus and concentration levels; and the speed and accuracy of these top players. I definitely learnt a lot and benefitted from playing in the World Cup as it made me more aware of the finer details of the game and more importantly, made me realise the areas in my game that needs further improvement. I strongly believe the experience of playing in the World Cup has made me a more confident and better player. You also get to make many new like-minded friends from all over the world; which is another added bonus. I am sure other players would similarly reap the same benefits.
Luke: I will recommend other players to play in the World Cup as it shows that the popularity of the game is increasing in Singapore despite the electronic and console games that we have today.
Isaac: Yes, because you can learn from the experience of playing against older and better opponents; and improve yourself and become a better player. You can also make a lot of new friends.
Question: Would Singapore Table Football benefit from having players in the World Cup? Why?
Rudy: It has been proven before from the past players who went to Manchester, England and Madrid, Spain. World Cup participants bring back new enthusiasm to the locals and belief that we could compete against the big boys in the Subbuteo World Cup. Year 1, our SG boys (John and Kok Wee) managed to score goals against opponents. Year 2, our SG player (Den Mulia) managed a win against foreign player while; Year 3, Team SG managed to qualify past the Group stage in the Open category and secured a win in the team event… What next? 😉
Bernard: Again, a BIG definite YES. As I have shared above, World Cups make better players and when these players return from the World Cup; they help raise the standards of play in Singapore. And as the standards of Singapore Table Football increases, Singapore can send more stronger players / teams to the World Cup and further put Singapore on the World Map of International Sports Table Football. This then creates a ‘virtuous cycle’ that can only be good for Singapore Table Football. It is my strong belief that had we sent our top 4 or 5 players to the 2014 World Cup for the Open Team event, we would have ruffled some feathers and created another stir to qualify into the Knock-Out rounds – that would be another history-making ‘first’ for Singapore. I really hope to see this happen in the near future; and also hope to be part of that team when the time comes 😉
Luke: I think that Singapore Table Football will benefit from having players at the World Cup as you are placing you country’s name on the world map of Table Football and it will especially increase the number of junior players to play Table Football as this is the first time that TFAS is sending junior players to play at the topmost level of Table Football in the world. However, it would be better if we could get sponsorships to broadcast the our games so as to attract more people to play the game.
Isaac: Yes, because you come back from the World Cup a better player and may also beat older local players. This encourages other Junior players to also try and follow your example and improve themselves to beat older players.
Last but not least, TFAS would like to commend the fantastic efforts of all 4 players of Team Singapore; and to congratulate and thank them for putting Singapore firmly in the World Map of International Sports Table Football!! … Well Done, Congratulations and Thank You!!!