Destiny beckons in strange ways sometimes. Especially so for the Blacks.
Having suffered the heartbreak of narrowly missing out on promotion to the elite Division 1 (on the last day, at the very last match of the entire Division 2 season), a year's worth of effort seemed spent and futile. But then, along came a well-deserved lifeline.
Team Taz opted to pull out of Div 1. And so, it was destiny that the Blacks were pitted against Skools (relegated from Div 1) in a battle for that valuable slot.
And so, like Spartans, the Blacks recalled their warriors, with some new faces serving as reinforcements. The troops were gathered, the supporters were rallied, and the stage was set.
With Republic Polytechnic as the battleground, 3pm as the time of reckoning, and Skools as worthy adversaries, it was a momentous occasion like no other. Ahead of the Blacks stood their final opportunity at creating history, a match. It was going to be long. It was going to be intense.
And in the end, boy, was it historic!
In an encounter that met expectations, both teams exploded off the blocks at a frenetic pace, the physical challenges coming in fast and furious. And in that battle to grab the initiative, the action swung from end to end, with both the Blacks and Skools squandering a few good chances. The first period ended deadlocked at 0-0.
The second period started at an equally frenzied pace, and the Blacks, understanding what was at stake, slowly started to control the match. They were to suffer a shock setback though, when Skools scored against the run of play with a good counter-attack. Having come back from behind to win numerous times in the season (a frustrating yet admirable trademark of the Blacks), the Blacks' response was swift, with Venu bundling in the equaliser. Soon after, Robin, who worked tirelessly throughout the match, was rewarded with a goal for his efforts.
The Blacks then decided to keep up the pressure and go for more goals, battling to win possession all over the court. And eventually, our opponents were to buckle under the pressure. A horrendous throw by the Skools goalkeeper fell to our newest recruit Zil, who tapped in at close range to bring the score to 3-1. Skools did not relent though, and were to strike again from a well-executed counter-attack. The period ended at 3-2.
The tight scoreline meant the Blacks had to step up their efforts at pulling away from their opponents in the crucial third period. And that is exactly what they did. Kenneth Koh guided the ball into the bottom corner of the goal off Gopi's pass, and Zil soon produced a superb finish off a counter attack to give the team a morale-boosting 5-2 lead. Gopi followed suit with a powerful shot into the top corner of the net that left Skools rattled. When Skools finally scored off a power play, Alvin promptly responded with a well-taken goal to leave Skools despondent.
Skools then decided to go for broke, and scored twice in quick succession to bring the score to 7-5 and produce a few nervous moments. Another new clubmate, Weilong, then eased the tension by scoring the Blacks' final goal. The match ended (to roars from the wonderful Blacks supporters), and another new chapter in the Blacks' illustrious story began.
Several heroes won various physical, mental and personal battles throughout the course of the match. From the tireless exploits of Zil, Charles, Robin and Alvin up front, to the assured midfield performances of Venu and Kenneth and the defensive stability provided by Weilong, every player gave his all to ensure a fitting end to a bruising encounter. And in the end, Gopi stood out as Man-of-the-Match, amidst many other warriors who played their part.
And so it was carved in the metaphorical stone of time. The Blacks, a club formed only in 2005 with a handful of enthusiasts, had, in a span of less than three years, reached the pinnacle of competitive floorball in Singapore: Division 1.
We've come a long way my friends, with many bigger challenges lying ahead.
For now though, destiny beckons.
May we build on this and reach for greater heights.
And may destiny always show us the way.