National hockey player Tan Yi Ru is no stranger to a family away from home. He first started hockey together with his cousin, Toh Limin, in the U-12 squad and the years training with this hockey ‘family’ has forged bonds of friendship and camaraderie over blood and sweat, laughter and tears.
On Yi Ru, who was nominated one of the top 23 hunks and babes of TeamSG athletes, his cousin Limin recalled: “There was this young girl who was a fan of Yi Ru and when she found out that I was his cousin, she started asking me things about him and even to help ask for a photo of them together!” Unfortunately for all you single ladies, Yi Ru is engaged to his loving fiancee and partner of 4 years, and will be getting married in Nov 2017.
So what makes a winning team? In a sports like hockey, with pucks flying as fast as 150km/h, the importance of teamwork cannot be understated. For Yi Ru, it’s about the team chemistry to instinctively know your teammates will be chasing down a splitting pass down the middle, or the gut split-second reaction to chain together several passes in quick succession. These intangible qualities add up to the difference that separates a successful team from the rest. Even though Yi Ru’s name was on the scoresheet for being the first Singaporean to score a goal for Singapore at the 2009 Junior’s World Cup, he is keenly aware that the honour belongs to the team.
Fourteen years ago, I last played for Xishan Primary School competing in Hockey/Floorball for Senior boys tournament. I could barely remember how much we had lost and win for the matches but all I could recall now was all the fun times I had with my team mates and always trying to be mischievous during most of the training days. No doubt the kids are still the same but they missed out on how to "Create Memories" for themselves 💦 which I was taught recently. A little too late but at least I know this is essential 👍🏻 Today, I return back to where I picked up the sport and giving those kids in the picture the exact same feeling I had back then. Teaching them how they should enjoy the sport and how it should be played. This group of kids, with half of the team just started 6 months ago won my heart by getting 1st runner up for the national championship with such little time on practice, I salute all of you! (Hats off) 👏🏻 Now back to 📚, study smartly. I know all of you will do well. All the best for PSLE! 💪🏻
Yi Ru is also deeply involved in coaching developmental work. Amongst others he is coaching his alma mater Bishan Primary’s floorball team, where his own passion for hockey was first ignited, as well as the Singapore Development U14 and U16 squads. By giving back to the community, he hopes to pass on his experience and passion to the next generation of athletes and hopefully inspire them to greater heights, in sports and in life.
Usually quiet and more reserved in his own time, Yi Ru is a different character once he steps onto the court and into his role as a coach or a member of the national hockey team. He understands the importance of communication in building a team, bringing different individuals together and towards the same goal, supporting one another through the challenging demands in life. “It is crucial to convey confidence and trust, knowing someone else shares the same dream as me, and will be there for me, and beside me.” Yi Ru deeply values relationships and personal ties with family and friends, that it was his ‘family away from home’ that kept him motivated when the going got tough, for instance during his overseas training stint in France.
As physically demanding as hockey is, more games have been won and lost within the head than on the legs. Being one of the more senior member of the squad, Yi Ru speaks of his experience with a quiet conviction that ‘(it is crucial) to have a team that’s able to stay as one and focused on the goal, to motivate one another, especially when the team is trailing behind or morale is low’. Yi Ru’s teammate of 14 years, Enrico Marican, who captained the 2015 SEA Games Hockey team, echoed this sentiment: “playing (hockey) full-time is not all fun and games. There is also a mental aspect about being really focused and serious”
For those of you who can’t attend the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, your words of encouragement and support can still help give Yi Ru and his team the winning mental edge! #ReadyforKL #OneTeamSG #ONEathlete.