This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.
By Abielle Yeo (Girls’ Captain), Chan Fang Yi (Girls’ Vice-Captain), Jared Lim (Boys’ Captain), Bryan Yip (Boys’ Vice-Captain)
The weather is hot and school has just ended. The sun’s rays bounce off the glimmering surface of the water, inviting onlookers to enter. The students change and slather on as much sun block as they can onto every visible part of their body. Their toes touch the edge of the water, and they immediately feel a cooling sensation. They are itching to enter the water and escape the scorching heat, which will eventually be the cause of their trademark tanned skin. The team cheer “RAFFLES!” fills the otherwise quiet area and with an almost synchronised effort, they jump into the pool with a resounding splash. Such is the life of a water polo member.
This life, as simple as it sounds, is rather colourful. Water polo is not just about the game. It is about the time spent in training, the commitment to your team, the perseverance in a game, and the trust in your teammates.
First up, training. We train three times a week, every week. On some days, a good gym workout is included before we hop into the water. Water polo is a complex sport of which many skills have to be honed for a team to succeed. It is, of course, a water sport. Thus, the laps are inevitable. It is also a ball sport, where players are not allowed to handle the ball with two hands at once. Hence, shooting, catching, passing, and picking up the ball all have to be done single-handedly, which is a skill that comes with regular training and practice. On top of that, water polo is also a contact sport. This means that the proper technique of struggling with your man and maneuvering around him is essential to the game. Lastly, water polo is a team sport, a six-on-six game (excluding the goalies) that cannot work with just one girl or guy. Team tactics are important, and so is game sense. This comes with experience and training, which brings us to the next portion of a polo player’s life: commitment.
When you commit to your team, you commit your time to training and your body to the game. Water polo is a very time-consuming sport. Besides the fixed two and a half hours of training, we often spend extra time with training equipment, packing for training and after-training baths. Many sports may have similar problems, but many sports are not water sports. Water can be our friend or our enemy, but most times the water is not on our side (think running in water). No matter how tired we are at the end of the day, we still love the sport, and that is why we are willing to commit our bodies to it. As a full contact sport, water polo brings many physical risks, we’ve seen broken noses and bruised bones, yet the commitment to the team always brings polo players back.
In water polo, you tread water for the entire game. If you’re not sprinting for the ball, you’re wrestling with your man for position, and you only get a short break when a goal is scored, between quarters, or if you are substituted out. The ‘mind over body’ situation literally occurs almost every game or training. ‘Perseverance’ is a word that is familiar to polo-players. The perseverance to continue sprinting back and forth, the perseverance to continue fighting for the ball.
Last, but not the least, is the trust between teammates. In a huge court with only six players in the water, there is only so much one person can cover. When you cover a space in the pool, you trust your teammates to be covering the rest. When you drive towards the goal, you trust your teammates to assist you. When your teammate blocks an opponent’s pass, you trust him or her to be able to protect the ball, and you will commit to a counter-attack. All this trust can only be brought about through the countless hours of training with the team.
All these hours change a water polo players’ lexis. ‘Water polo’ becomes ‘home’. ‘Team’ becomes ‘family’.