In an interview with Singapore Strait Times, the players shared their thoughts on the opportunity to play against top-level teams.
Benjamin Yio and Mark Shen, and Gladys Lee and Eliza Chong will represent Singapore in the double-gender U21 World Championship. Their newly appointed coach Sonthi Bunrueang of Thailand will not be able to join them because of visa issues. However, their other coach Teo Chiek Shan will be able to accompany the quartet and he is optimistic that the teams will be able to use this experience for their development.
“We just want them to go out there and enjoy themselves with no pressure,” coach Teo said. “It’s a long journey and the first time we’re heading so far out. Realistically, we know what we can deliver and just aim to play our best.”
The players are likewise thrilled with the opportunity.
“We’re looking forward to playing in such a prestigious tournament,” 18-year-old student Chong said. “It’ll be quite a big step up, compared to playing in Asian tournaments.”
“We will take this as a great way to learn from some of the world’s best young players,” 20-year-old Yio said.
The Volleyball Association of Singapore (VAS) is hoping that their participation will help put beach volleyball on the radar of Singaporeans.
“Through this venture, we hope to see an increase in popularity for beach volleyball and to highlight it nationally,” sports events and marketing executive Shermin Low said. “The beach sport is not as developed nor as strong as indoor volleyball but we slowly hope to change that.”
Shen, a former indoor volleyball player who joined the national beach volleyball youth ranks after being scouted in a school’s A Division game in 2014, sees beach volleyball as a personal development tool.
"Beach volleyball is more of an independent sport,” Shen said. “You can correct your own mistakes easily. Also, I can get more recognition as a player for my efforts when I play and that keeps me going."
There will be a total of 24 teams in Lucerne, with only five teams making it to the competition's main draw.
Singapore are looking to advance past the qualifying rounds, held in a single-elimination format where they might take on countries like Turkey, Oman and Kazakhstan.