By Coline Staes-Polet (20A13A), Girls Captain, Brandon Tan (20S03G) Boys Captain, Vivien Tai (20S03G), Girls Vice-Captain, Edison Yap (20S07B), Boys Vice-Captain
If you ever happen to be craving an ice cream waffle after a long day of classes on a hot afternoon, you may find yourself outside Y1-4 Chill surrounded by the sounds of splashing water, loud screams and laughter. You see, this is where we train. Just a fence away from Y1-4 Chill, the RI pool, is Water Polo territory.
Water Polo is a physically demanding yet exhilarating activity that requires players to attack, defend, and pass a ball, all without being able to touch the bottom of the pool. Surely then, many may ask: why play a sport that is such hard work? What do you stand to gain? To that, we say: because of our team that we call family. Let us share about our family here in Raffles.
The girls’ team, despite being categorised as a “developmental sport” in RI, trains just like any other competitive team sport, and sets its goals just as high. As Water polo is a relatively new sport for girls, none of us had any prior experience playing this sport. So it is through pure determination and perseverance that we have managed to retain the A Division National School Games Championship title for over 10 years, and are hoping to continue this feat. As intimidating as that may sound, know that we are not looking for people with extensive experience in swimming or even any other sport, but rather someone dedicated, courageous, and open to challenges.
Though we admit that the learning curve may seem daunting at first, having a group of friends by your side every step of the way, to push you through the tough times and celebrate with you during the happy ones, will make the impossible possible.
For the boys’ team, it is a little different. Boys are generally required to have prior competitive experience in Water polo should they wish to join the CCA due to the higher level of gameplay observed. The RI boys’ team has proven to be a formidable opponent, having clinched the A Division gold medal from 2016-2018 and silver in 2019. It is true that nothing comes for free, and this is the result of countless hours of training spent doing weights, swim sets, ball drills, tactical drills and game simulation.
Our dedication to the team and love for the sport makes it possible for us to find unexpected ways to lift our spirits amidst the mundane yet intense drills. Additionally, the boys’ team also has an annual overseas training trip that is a perfect opportunity for the team to bond, as well as gain valuable experience for the upcoming season.
For both teams, the many hours spent in and out of the pool together naturally builds a sense of camaraderie, ethos and tenacity within each of us which never fails to put us in good stead for challenges to come.
Although we share the pool and training hours, the boys’ and girls’ team train and play separately. However, once out of the pool, we always find the time to bond as a team, be it by enjoying waffles by the pool before training or having dinners together after training. We form friendships that go beyond the occasional passing “hi” and eventually find ourselves teasing and joking with each other comfortably. These heartwarming connections allow us to escape from the monotony of our daily school routines, to a group of people we can call home.
Pre-season training takes place at the RI pool thrice a week on Mondays (5.30-8.30pm), Wednesdays (2-5pm) and Thursdays (3-6pm–Girls) / Saturday (1.30-4.30pm–Boys) and is reduced to twice a week when it’s off-season. Of course, all our achievements and progress would not be possible without our incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable coaches, Coach Yu Lei who coaches the boys and Mr Lim who coaches the girls. We also have our understanding and caring teacher ICs (Mr Chan, Mr Swee, Mr Ortega, Ms Lee) to thank for their guidance in and out of the pool.
With that, we look forward to welcoming you into the Water Polo family.