CCA Previews ’22: Badminton

By Alina Phang (22A13A), Vice-Captain

Hello everyone. For some reason, I got arrowed to write this… so I’ve decided to take this opportunity to flame my CCA. I’ll be spilling all the insider reasons why Badminton sucks – hopefully, this still gets published. Please, just hear me out, okay?

The first reason: we have really few people. Our whole batch consists of just 7 boys and 5 girls, making us one of the smallest CCAs in the school. I have to see the same few faces day in, day out — spar with the same people, fight the eye rolls as I listen to the same jokes! Honestly, I’m kind of sick of them by now, but sadly, there’s no escape. 

Secondly, the training. It’s such a pain to drag myself to the ISH every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 5pm to 8pm, only getting to leave school after dark — it’s almost like we’re vampires or something! To make things worse, we often go for team dinners at Bosch or J8 after training, and I sometimes reach home super late. As if school wasn’t hard enough already, training often leaves me exhausted, especially on PT days. And don’t even get me started on that — the teachers never fail to come up with different kinds of torture, just stopping short of killing us, probably.

Lastly, the National School Games. I’m hyper-aware of the RAFFLES printed on my jersey: a constant reminder that I represent something bigger than myself. Wah I tell you ah, the level of stress is comparable to the kind when you reach the front of the caifan queue and still cannot decide what you want. The expectations from my coaches, teachers, and teammates weigh heavily on my mind — if I lose, then how?

But now that I think about it… maybe, just maybe, Badminton isn’t actually all that bad. 

Training hours are long and late, but I seldom leave without a sense of fulfillment. Being on court is a special kind of exhilaration. Badminton is something that most, if not all, of us have been playing from young, and we share a love for the sport that shines through in our gameplay. Friday trainings, Games Days, where we are joined by the coaches and teachers to play matches amongst ourselves, are admittedly often the highlight of my week.

All smiles after training!

PT can be tough, but that’s because we’re being pushed to our limits. Our CCA teachers, Mr Wong and Ms Chew, come up with many different kinds of PT using a variety of equipment, from medicine balls to weighted ropes. Not only do the teachers do PT together with us, they often put us to shame by doing it better than us! 

As for the coaches, they certainly know what they’re doing. Coach Ronald, who coaches our singles players, is one of Singapore’s most accomplished shuttlers, having achieved a career-high world ranking of 6th. Coach Aman, on the other hand, specialises in doubles — he serves shuttles at breakneck speeds, making for super effective doubles training. 

Clearly, spending three hours together three times a week isn’t enough for RIBT — you can often find us running at the stadium before school starts, studying outside the ISH before training, or going for dinner after. Maybe we go home late afterwards to piles of untouched schoolwork, but there’s just something special about those Tuesday nights spent bonding over food with my batchmates after a tough training that makes it more than worth it. 

Morning team run before lessons start.

Playing at the National School Games may be pressurising — but the moment the first shuttle hits your racket, instincts take over. You don’t even need to think about it — the muscle memory developed from hours and hours of training propels you across the court reflexively, returning shots, gaining momentum. Your team is always behind you, and their familiar shouts of “Go Raffles!” remind you that you’re not playing as an individual. You represent a team that wins together, loses together, fights together — all under the banner of green, black, and white. It’s a feeling like no other.

When CCA got suspended this year, I was glad for all the extra time — but it felt like a chunk of my life went missing. I missed the synergy of being on court with my teammates. Every time I walked past Bosch, I thought of all the nights we spent there laughing over Mala. 

RIBT is more than its illustrious history of National School Games golds. It’s a team of individuals brought together by our shared love for the sport, of players who give our all towards something greater than ourselves — but above all, we’re just a bunch of people who really enjoy playing badminton together. 

So… maybe badminton isn’t that bad after all. It may require effort and commitment, but I’ve found my home here. And as a wise man by the name of Dom Toretto once said: You don’t turn your back on family.

*Cover image taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.

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