Athletics: Friendly competition brings fun and friendship back to the track
By Lynn Neo
MOE-SportSG managed to put a smile on the faces on 30 secondary school students from the SP-CCA programme through an internally organised competition on the 10 and 17 April 2021, despite the cancellation of the National School Games for a second consecutive year. This competition provided a milestone check on the students’ progress and enabled them to experience the different event disciplines through this multi-events competition. It also allowed students, some for the first time, to engage in some friendly rivalry and have a taste of competition.
What is SP-CCA? (Strategic Partnership CCA)
An official MOE-SportSG programme which welcomes students from different backgrounds, this programme is conducted by certified coaches from ActiveSG Athletics Club and serves as a platform for students to discover their interests regardless of their experience level. Students receive professional guidance from the coaches who not only develop their technical sporting skills, but also integrate values and teachable moments through play. Going beyond the typical training sessions, students have also been given opportunities to enhance their leadership skills through the planning and execution of training sessions for their teammates while receiving guidance from the coaches. I caught up with four of these students after the event and had a great time speaking to them and finding out more about their experience thus far.
From left to right: Faith Zhen, 16 (CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent); Muhammad Syazwan (Captain), 15 (Meridian Sec) ; Joanna Ho, 14 (St Margaret’s Sec) ; Sauze Martin, 13 (St Gabriel’s Sec)
Strong pillars of support
Attending training outside school might sound like a hassle to most people, but not for this group of chirpy boys and girls whom I was lucky to catch up with. While most of them have some experience with sports in school, it is a whole new experience for them here in this programme. Coaches can pay greater attention to each student and provide constant check-ins on them to ensure that they are juggling well between training and studies due to the smaller nature of the group. Syazwan, the team captain, is extremely thankful for the support of the coaches as they encouraged him to believe in himself and helped him gain greater confidence as an athlete. “The coaches in SP-CCA understand the technical problems I face in training and they would advise me on how to improve my form. I feel a sense of connection with my coaches here. I take them as my friends, and we are comfortable with each other and that helps me too during training.” Pushing the students hard enough is one thing. Pushing the students hard enough and understanding each student’s stamina and ability is another. Faith, 15, enjoys how her coach, Coach Asmah plays a dual role of both mentor and friend. She commented, “She knows how to encourage us. When the sets get tough, she will tell us to push through. But she also knows how much is too much, and she’ll reduce the intensities accordingly”. When asked about the bond which she shares with the coaches, she chirped excitedly “They are like friends to us and we can joke around and have fun together. Coach Asmah even bought us a chocolate lava cake once to celebrate our birthdays!”
(Martin and Coach Zac)
(Faith and Coach Asmah)
Power of Friendship: Unity in Diversity
Besides being showered with encouragement and support from coaches, the students are also grateful to have the company of one another. Bonding sessions through other sports like kayaking have brought the team closer together and they have cited friends as one of the biggest reasons they enjoy this programme, and a handful have expressed interest in continuing their training together upon graduation. Martin appreciates how this programme has presented him a wonderful opportunity to meet people outside of his usual social circle. “The friends I make here are not from my school and it’s different from a normal school CCA.” Joanna, who has been with ActiveSG’s Athletics Club programme since primary school, chimed in, “I get to make friends and meet new people from different schools so that’s really nice”. Evidently, the friendships formed and memories shared serve as a reminder of the power which sport plays in bridging differences and forging bonds amongst students from different backgrounds.
Platforms and Opportunities: A Pursuit of Sporting Passion
One common wish shared by these four students is the hope that more of such opportunities can be created and presented to people who are passionate about sports. Joanna talked about the importance of leading an active lifestyle, “I want more people to join such programmes so that we can all lead a more active lifestyle together. I think there is a need to build greater awareness so people know how they can pursue their sporting interests” Similarly, Syazwan is already hoping that the Singapore’s athletics team can one day step up onto the Olympics podium. “With more opportunities, Singapore can perhaps field more people in the national team and ultimately qualify for the Olympics. Maybe we can win something too! Afterall, I strongly believe in attitude over ability.”
Seeing these young and energetic athletes’ desire to improve the sporting scene in Singapore, along with the greater emphasis on sports by the nation in recent years, indeed hints at a brighter sporting future for future generations and paves the way for the nation to lead an even more active life.
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Article Contributed by:
Intern, Children and Youth Programme Development