Category: 2013 Season

No Small Matter: RI Wins The Big Quiz 2013

By Austin Zheng (14A01B)

Which international diplomat was recently awarded an honorary 10th Dan black belt? What is the percentage of women in Singaporean corporate boards?

These were some of the questions asked in the finals of the Straits Times-Ministry of Education National Current Affairs Quiz, more popularly known as the Big Quiz, which saw Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Junior College, River Valley High School and Nanyang Junior College engage in a gruelling contest of speed, knowledge and argumentative ability. The intense competition was reflected by the supporters from the four schools, who had turned out in force. A contingent of Nanyang supporters even arrived with a flotilla of multi-coloured helium balloons, awing everyone in the conference room. While the RI supporters were less well prepared, they nevertheless made two personalised banners in a display of solidarity.

One of the rather cheeky banners made by the RI supporters
One of the rather cheeky banners made by the RI supporters

At the far end of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront ballroom, quiz participants Gabriel Wong (14S03O), Jeremy Khoo (14A01B), Kuek Jia Yao (14S03R) and reserve member Ng Qi Siang (14A01C) paced about in brooding silence. One member adjusted his tie nervously. The team had good reason to be anxious. They were up against formidable opponents, with the River Valley delegation coming in first in a preliminary round, taking only about 9 minutes out of a given time of half an hour to answer 50 multiple-choice questions. Furthermore, Hwa Chong had emerged victorious in the semi-final round. The competitors were also burdened by the legacy of their predecessors, who had won the inaugural edition of the Big Quiz last year. The team in fact rejected a pre-match interview and chased this writer away in an attempt to collect their thoughts before the quiz.

They didn’t have much more time to do so. Music suddenly blared from the speakers as the stage lights swivelled wildly. The audience quietened in growing anticipation as the quiz master and the guest of honour stepped onto the stage and gave a short introduction to the Big Quiz. The teams strode to their positions on the platform, some smiling, some solemn, all met with roaring cheers from their supporters. The Big Quiz was on.

The first of the quiz’s four rounds was ‘Think Fast’, which allocated 1 random question to each team for 5 sets. The teams had to answer each question within 10 seconds, and garnered 10 points for each correct answer. NYJC surged ahead in the early stages of the round, being the only school to answer their second set question correctly. However, they allowed RI to catch up in the last set, with our team breezing through its final question ‘Which 16 year-old Pakistani girl recently gave a speech in front of the United Nations?’ (Malala Yousafzai). The score for that round settled at 40 points for NYJC, 20 points for RVHS, 40 points for RI, and 20 points for HCI, giving the RI team some breathing space.

The second round, dubbed ‘Make your Point’, required the teams to randomly choose one question, with all three members of the team required to make a presentation of 90 seconds on the topic. NYJC, which got the question ‘Do Singaporeans complain too much about the transport system?’, was evidently flustered by the strict time limit, giving a vague speech that failed to address the main concerns of the question. This was to be characteristic of all four teams to varying degrees, though the RI team’s presentation was relatively more cohesive and articulate, thanks to Gabriel’s 45-second long conclusion. After thorough deliberation, the judges awarded 20 points to NYJC, 10 points to RVHS, 40 points to RI and 30 points to HCI, warning the RI team that it had barely edged on HCI for the top spot in the round. Nevertheless, the scores stood at 60-30-80-50 at the end of the second round, giving RI a welcome 20-point lead.

The RI team argued that the values education in Singapore was largely effective
The RI team argued that the values education in Singapore was largely effective

The competition entered its most intense phase in the third round. In ‘Team’s Choice’, the teams gained or lost 10, 20 or 30 points depending on the question category they had chosen, and whether they had answered the question correctly within the allotted 10 seconds. Each team also had two one-use special cards for the round. The X2 points card could only be used before the teams saw the question in the category they had chosen, and doubled the amount of points each team would win – or lose. The Sabo King card allowed the user to force another team of their choice to answer their question, and could be used after the question was unveiled. If the other team answered the question correctly, both teams would gain the relevant amount of points. If it did not, only the sabotaged team would lose points. The high amount of points at stake and the special cards meant that even a single mistake could destroy any chance of victory, heightening the tension.

The Sabo King card was quickly used in the first question set of the round, when RVHS shot the 30-point question ‘What is the percentage of children under 3 who use electronic devices?’ (65 percent) to HCI. Hwa Chong answered the question adroitly, bringing the score to a razor-thin 70-60-80-80. RI’s own 30-point sabotage against HCI, which it failed to answer correctly, prompted the Hwa Chong team to adopt a high-risk, high-return gambit, with the team consistently choosing the 30-point category in a desperate bid to overtake RI. Raffles supporters were kept at the edge of their seats, the suspense culminating when NYJC sabotaged our team with the 30-point question ‘Which woman won the Man Booker Prize twice?’, which would make or break RI’s chances at the championship. Yet they need not have worried; the team could barely contain their glee, with Jeremy decisively answering ‘Hilary Mantel’, sending the audience wild. The round closed at 70-90-180-130, essentially making the quiz a two-horse race between archrivals RI and HCI. Victory, though, seemed firmly seated in our hands.

Thankfully, the final rapid-fire buzzer round that allowed teams to gain or lose 10 points per question held no surprises for us, with RI maintaining a comfortable lead over its nearest competitor. The tension had largely dissipated after the climax of ‘Team’s Choice’, and the last round was mainly characterised by the struggle between RVHS and HCI for the second place and a lucrative $3000 prize. RI, dominant in the previous rounds, was more muted due to a combination of a cautious strategy and unreliable buzzer-hitting reflexes. The final scores stood at 40-150-210-180, with NYJC regressing back to the same score it had at the end of the first round when it was in the lead. RVHS and HCI had valiantly narrowed the gap with RI, with RVHS in particular scoring an impressive 60 points in the buzzer round. Nevertheless, their efforts fell short, and RI emerged as the defending champion of the Big Quiz. The team hoisted their trophies and their $5000 cheque in triumph at the prize presentation ceremony, smiling amidst the ecstatic applause.

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Year 6 Ryan Quek, a member of the winning team at last year’s Big Quiz and a mentor for the current Year 5s, grinned with relief after the quiz. ‘I was very nervous.’ he shared. ‘Even more than the team, perhaps. When they put in so much work, you really hope that they would win. I’m very proud of them.’ Mr Caleb Liu, the team’s teacher-mentor, concurred. ‘The competition wasn’t as close as last year’s, which went down to the last question, but it is always stressful watching them.’

Indeed, RI’s victory was much narrower than the fourth round suggested. A considerable bit of luck was naturally present in RI’s victory. The team admitted that they could have been locked in an even fiercer title fight had the special cards been played differently by the other teams. The HCI team’s frustrated expressions at missing the buzzer multiple times also suggested that they could have given RI a greater run for their money. Ryan acknowledged that luck was an inherent part of the competition, commenting, ‘The team came in knowing that they needed luck. No matter how much you prepare, if you get a question that you don’t know with 30 points on the line, and you answer it wrongly, you could be out.’ Nevertheless, it was a fair competition, and a great deal of hard work lay behind the RI team’s victory. Gabriel noted that the RI team had stayed back till 7 p.m. every day for the past month to scrutinise the Straits Times for this quiz. The combination of dutiful diligence and prodigious knowledge was what gave the team a deserved win.

The enthusiastic supporters from NYJC, who came prepared with a whole flotilla of balloons
The enthusiastic supporters from NYJC, who came prepared with a whole flotilla of balloons

As a final note, this writer would like to commend NYJC for their outstanding display of school spirit and camaraderie. It wasn’t just the overwhelming number of supporters that turned up, or the helium balloons that they bought. The loudest cheers at the closing ceremony came from the NYJC supporters, despite their team coming last in the competition. The touching picture of friendship and unity earned NYJC the ‘Best Supporting School’ award, though the cash might have meant little to them. With RI having won the Big Quiz twice in a row, next year’s team would be under even greater pressure. They could however take solace in Nanyang’s example, and remember that there is more to winning than victory.

Ultimate Champions: Ultimate Inter-JCs 2013

By Tan Jun Xiang (14S06C)
Additional reporting by Allison Choong (14S05B)
Photos by Nicholas Koh, Georges Ip (Photographic Society), PuHwai Chin

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8 matches. 2 teams. 1 dream.

It was a day of bittersweet victory for Raffles Ultimate. On the 8th of June, Raffles Ultimate fielded two teams for the Inter-JC Ultimate Championships 2013 at Cheng Lim Fields. From as early as 8am till as late as 6pm, teams from 10 junior colleges all over Singapore duked it out in a bevy of matches for the championship title.

Having narrowly missed the championship title the previous year, the two teams fielded by RI were under immense pressure to reclaim the trophy for the school. This year, the games were played in a Swiss-Draw system, where each team had to play about 4 matches (each lasting 45 minutes) to decide their final placing. There would not be any final to decide the overall winner; rather, the winner would be the team that accrued the most points throughout its matches, based on the goal difference in the games that it played.

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Both teams started the day with impressive performances. Team B was the first to go up, dispatching Dunman High 7-2 with little difficulty. Team A followed up with an equally strong performance, dominating NUS High 11-0. The long months of practice before the competition had clearly paid off, as both teams made consistent, solid passes with few mistakes, if any.

The two teams kept up their strong performance for the second round, with Team A dismantling River Valley High 8-1. Team B, on the other hand, went down narrowly to Temasek Junior College in overtime, with a scoreline of 2-3.

For the next match of the day, Raffles Team A faced off against perennial arch-rivals, ACS(I). With ACS(I) regarded as one of RI’s toughest competitors, the match was hailed by alumni and supporters alike as the most anticipated match of the day.

Both teams got off to a strong start, fighting tooth and nail for every inch of the field. ACS(I) struck first, sneaking in a goal within the first few minutes of the match. Initially, the Raffles side appeared demoralized, but returned visibly reinvigorated after a pep talk from their coach Benjamin Ho. Subsequently, the team went on a devastating offensive, with Joy Wong scoring 3 points for the team in quick succession. The disparity in skill between Joy and her marker was painfully obvious, as Joy outran and outplayed her marker to score multiple times.

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Joy scoring a point for Team A

The ACS(I) side fought hard to regain their footing, but each attempt was swiftly thwarted by a strong defensive showing from the Raffles team, their players effectively zoning the ACS(I) team inside their own endzone. Backed into a corner, the ACS(I) team fumbled the disc several times, leading to turnovers which accorded the RI side even more chances to score.

As the ACS(I) side began to focus their defense more on Joy in an attempt to prevent her from scoring, the other Raffles players merrily exploited this gap in their defense, with Daryl throwing a quick flick out to Josh for RI’s 5th point of the match. As the match progressed, the ACS(I) side began to crumble under the withering offensive, conceding 4 more points. A well executed huck from the AC side allowed them to score a consolatory second point towards the middle of the match, but it was quickly becoming clear that RI already had the game in the bag.

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Throughout the match, the RI side appeared confident and at ease, making use of short, efficient passes to advance the disc up-field. In contrast, the ACS(I) side appeared flustered and frustrated due to the early goal deficit, making several frantic huck attempts which rarely connected with their receivers. This allowed Team A to take the match 9-2 amidst the raucous cheers of the Rafflesian crowd of supporters.

Following their win against ACS(I), Raffles Team A went up against HCI in what would be their fourth and final match of the day. Staying calm and composed, our players made use of short, accurate passes to advance the disc in a slow, methodical offensive. Their patience was swiftly rewarded with a clean flick from Wern to Yi Jun for the first point of the match.

The HCI players were undaunted by the early goal, retaliating with an impressive huck followed by a short flick to equalize the scoreline. As the game wore on, the disadvantages of playing on an open field quickly became obvious. The muddy ground made it difficult to get any sort of grip, with players on both teams frequently slipping while trying to catch the disc. Some sloppy passes from HCI allowed RI to get some easy intercepts, pulling ahead by 3 more points

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Although HCI managed to score another point towards the middle of the match, they were unable to significantly impede the Raffles offensive. As a Y5 Raffles Ultimate player watching the match commented, the RI team seemed relaxed and at ease, with players barely breaking a sweat throughout the match.

Ultimate frisbee is often lauded for its Spirit of the Game, where players are trusted to act as their own referees. This was on clear display throughout the match as RI players could be spotted calling out their own fouls, even when it meant putting the opponent team in a superior position. At one point when one of our players was about to contest a foul call, his teammate stopped him, explaining that it had indeed been a foul.

Into the second half of the match, a Category 1 lightning alert was called, sending all matches to a halt. There was uncertainty for a period of time, as players had no idea what would happen to the matches that had been interrupted. In a rather anti-climatic moment, Team A was eventually declared the match winners due to their scoreline of 5-2 over HCI. Due to the Swiss-draw style system of play, this meant that they had the most points among all the teams present, and they were hence declared overall winners.

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Although Team A had already secured the championship title, Team B still had one more match to go. Over at the other end of the field, the day was not going as planned for Raffles Team B. Earlier that day, they had just lost 3-4 to River Valley High due to the universe point, and now they were up against Pioneer Junior College to determine their final placing. Unfortunately for the gryphons, the match did not begin well. The RI defence appeared shaky and uncoordinated, with key opponent players left unmarked. PJC was quick to exploit this, scoring 3 clean goals in the first half of the match.

As the match began to look increasingly grim for our young gryphons, the RI Team B coaches Ervin and Wei Zhong called for a timeout. Their words had an appreciable effect on the team’s play; the players returned to the match with renewed focus, powering the disc through the field in a very aggressive style of play. While not the cleanest of tactics, it still worked, as Jeremiah managed to fend off two defenders in the endzone to catch the disc.

Our team’s first goal heralded a significant shift in momentum towards our side, as the players began to fight with renewed spirit and determination. The game was not without controversy, however, as a foul was called on Si Kai just as he threw a quick backhand to Jue Ying for a goal. Though the disc was eventually sent back, Jue Ying quickly caught the disc once again to score the second point for the team. Minutes later, Sabrina Chan made a short pass to Jeremiah Choo in the endzone, levelling the score to a 3-3 tie.

Team B celebrating with Jueying after a goal
Team B celebrating with Jueying after a goal

As the clock ticked down to the end of the match, a stalemate ensued, with neither team able to score the crucial last point. As the match ran into overtime, the universe point was put into play – whichever team scored the next point would essentially win the match. Despite their consistent performance thus far, the Raffles side was visibly exhausted by this point. At times, the players fumbled what appeared to be easy catches, struggling to keep up with their opponents. This was only intensified by the state of the field; players were drenched in mud, frequently slipping in the waterlogged grass.

The next few minutes were nail-bitingly tense as the disc went back and forth. Neither team seemed to have a significant advantage, and supporters on both sides fell silent in a mixture of apprehension and worry. Both teams were desperate to score – at one point four players from both sides collided in a headlong rush for the disc.

But ultimately, their magical comeback was not to be. A clean huck from PJC, coupled with a layout catch from the receiver scored the final point for their team. A hush fell over the sidelines, as supporters ran onto the field to console the team.

Team A emerged overall champions, reclaiming the Inter-JC championship title for the school, while Team B came in at an admirable 9th place. Although it was a day of mixed fortunes for Raffles Ultimate, Team B coach Ervin Seow, a J4, commented that the matches were ‘very intense’. “Both teams put in a lot of effort – Team A did very well, B didn’t. Though they were 3-0 down, they fought their way back up. As seniors, we’re really very proud to have juniors who never give up”. Though the Y5 captain of Raffles Ultimate, Sabrina Chan was understandably disappointed at Team B’s placing, she remained optimistic, remarking that “though our team B suffered three losses due to universe points, we now only look forward with determination, to work even harder, to keep the championship legacy next year.”

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When asked about Team A’s remarkable achievement, Team A’s coach Benjamin Ho had this to say, “Last year, the team was quite disappointed with the loss – both teams went out in the semi-finals with universal points. This year, we let the team train hard and they came back to where Raffles Ultimate is supposed to be.” Raffles Press would like to congratulate the team on their fine display of tenacity and teamwork. If today’s showing was anything to go by, we have full confidence that Raffles Ultimate will have no trouble re-taking the title next year.

Raffles Badminton: A Spirited Display

By Lim Ci Hui (14A03B)

It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Raffles badminton team. The A Division girls clinched 1st position after beating Victoria Junior College 4 – 1, extending their winning streak of 8 years, while the boys emerged as 1st runners up after going down to longtime rivals and eventual champions ACS(I) 3 – 2.

In the boy’s first singles, Muhamad Imran from RI won with a resounding score of 21 – 7, 21 – 4. There was never any doubt as to who was in charge of the game as his powerful and accurate smashes made it difficult for his opponent to retaliate.

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The same could not be said of the girl’s game in the next court, however, with Chong Fui Jin up against who teammates described as VJC’s best player. Initially, the score was close at 10 – 9 with VJC leading, and in between bouts of brilliant front-court battles both sides were pressured into making mistakes. Eventually, VJC pulled ahead and wrapped up the first game with a score of 25 – 16. Tension heightened in the Raffles camp, with the badminton team’s cheers taking on a slightly desperate edge as VJC charged into an early 4 – 0 lead in the second game. However, Sui Jin performed remarkably under pressure and pulled off a couple of spectacular saves. The final score was 21 – 10 in VJC’s favour.

Hereafter, fortunes were reversed for the boys’ and girls’ teams. Perhaps the first game set the tone for the remaining matches, as the RI girls and ACS(I) boys were galvanized into action after their teammates’ losses, fighting hard to regain the advantage for their respective teams.

Next up on the boy’s side was the duo of Jonathan Kit and Seah Wei Hing. The teams were reasonably evenly matched, with an initial score of 12 – 12, before ACS(I) pulled ahead after a few fast-paced plays to win the first game 21 – 15. Smarting from the first game defeat, the shuttlers conceded a few points in the second game to give ACS(I) an early lead of 5 – 0, but fought back admirably by winning 4 points in a row and pressured their opponents into making mistakes. However, ACS(I) eventually set up a match point of 20 – 13. As the ACS(I) shuttlers tried aggressively to wrap up the game, the Raffles duo responded by falling back on their excellent teamwork to pull off a few spectacular saves. The atmosphere in the Raffles camp was terse – would the boys be able to equalize ACS(I)’s 7-point advantage? Sadly, it was not to be as ACS(I) won the second set 21 – 16.

Meanwhile, the girl’s first doubles pair consisting of Lee Shu Ying and Chiu Jingwen was having an easier time at the adjacent court. VJC pulled ahead with an early lead of 5 – 2, spurring increasingly spirited attacks from the Raffles girls as they scored 7 points consecutively to bring the score to 9 – 5. The combination of Shu Ying’s excellent backhand saves and Jingwen’s powerful strokes to the back of the court saw them win the first set 21 – 15. Victory in the second set soon followed as they exploited the loopholes in their opponents’ defenses to triumph 21 – 13.

Poon Jey-ren represented RI in the boy’s second singles, which was another close fight with scores of 3 – 3, then 7 – 7 as the shuttlers exchanged blows. A few aggressive and well-placed smashes just out of his opponent’s reach saw Jey-ren pull ahead authoritatively, winning the set with a score of 21 – 13. In the second set Jey-ren build up an unassailable 11 – 3 lead, dominating the fast-paced game and pushing his opponent into mistakes on his way to a 21 – 9 victory.

The girls’ team roared to a resounding victory over VJC after two matches which were dominated by our RI shuttlers. Siti Nurhayati Rahim’s judicious judgment in the second singles match saw her make the best out of her opponent’s miscalculations as she placed the shuttlecock just out of her opponent’s reach time and again, cruising to a 21 – 12, 21 – 7 win. The duo of Sheryl Lim and Lim Boon Xin pulled ahead definitively in the second doubles with some fantastic playing as they outran and outwitted their opponents, culminating in a first set victory of 21 – 12. Winning the second set was never in doubt as the shuttlers returned their opponents’ shots with apparent ease to triumph 21 – 6.

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Unfortunately for the boys’ team, their matches were not nearly as simple. In the adjacent court, the duo of Chung Tze Herng and Donavan Mui played in what was probably the most closely contested match all afternoon. It was the only game which extended to the third set, which is testimony to how evenly matched the teams were. In the first set, the score went from 3 – 3 to 10 – 10 with neither team seeming to get the upper hand. After half-time, the onslaught was largely led by ACS(I), until the RI duo seemed to gain a newfound confidence, pulling ahead for the first time in a few minutes with a score of 18 – 17. To resounding cheers, RI eventually edged out ACS(I) 22 – 20 in a thrilling finish.

The second set promised to be another close match with spectacular playing from both sides leading to a score of 9 – 9. However, this time was it was the ACS(I) boys who had the upper hand, launching a spirited attack to beat the Raffles duo 21 – 16. With both teams visibly tired, tension in the Raffles camp was palpable – would Tze Herng and Donavan be able to triumph over their opponents in this high-stakes game, thus clinching the title for the boys? The highly anticipated finale began promisingly for the Raffles shuttlers as they charged ahead 4 – 1 with a series of consecutive smashes. However, the score was equalized by ACS(I) at 9 – 9 and the lead shuttled between the two teams until they reached another stalemate at 17 – 17, promising a nail-bitingly close finish. Desperate to keep their title hopes alive, the ACS(I) duo scored 3 points in a row, homing in on the win, foiled only by Tze Herng and Donavan’s heroic saves; however, the ACS(I) shuttlers ultimately prevailed 21 – 18 in this intense match of stamina and speed.

With all eyes riveted on the boys’ doubles, the girl’s third singles received disproportionately less attention as RI had already clinched the title. This was a pity as Marissa played exceptionally well despite the attention of the coaches (and audience members) diverted to the match in the adjacent court. Her composure on court was remarkable as she returned all of her opponent’s shots with apparent ease, claiming an emphatic 21 – 6, 21 – 5 victory to extend RI’s lead over VJC.

Full attention was on Ho Huin Kit (the girls’ matches having concluded) as he stepped onto court for the deciding final match. Both sides fought hard to gain an advantage in a thrilling game with front-court battles, smashes and impressive saves, posting a score of 9 – 9. Peck Ern Min from ACS(I) eventually pulled ahead 18 – 12 with some aggressive playing, but Huin Kit stood his ground against the onslaught, responding with a couple of cleverly-placed shots of his own. ACS(I) won the round 21 – 15, dealing a further blow to RI’s title hopes and prompting the badminton team to redouble their cheering efforts with renewed vigour. The ACS(I) shuttler seemed to be on a roll as he snatched an early lead of 4 – 0, but a brilliant comeback by Huin Kit saw him score 7 points in a row for a score of 7 – 4 in RI’s favour. The atmosphere was electric as the lead swung back and forth between the players in this keenly contested match as they fought for the ultimate prize – the title for their respective schools. Originally down 16 – 11, a resurgent Huin Kit fought hard to narrow the difference in points and almost succeeded but was eventually overcome by the relentless ACS(I) shuttler 21 – 17.

Team captain Sheryl Lim said, “I think we all tried our best, and we are very proud of ourselves, because we gave it our best, and this is the result we got, so we are very happy with it.” Indeed, though the boys may have narrowly missed out on clinching the title, just the result alone does not sufficiently reflect the tenacity that they exhibited on court all afternoon. As for the girls, the months of hard work and training put in prior to the match were reflected by their emphatic victory as they consistently outplayed their opponents.

It was unfortunate that an afternoon of brilliant playing was marred by a lack of concerted efforts to cheer from the Raffles match supporters as compared to those from the other schools. This was largely due to the fact that the student councilors were attending their council investiture, which was running concurrently with the match. Their arrival in the second half of the match did see the enthusiasm level take a turn for the better as they tried to rally the Raffles crowd.

The badminton team played an instrumental role in motivating the players, keeping up a continuous stream of encouragement to their teammates on and off court, remaining spirited and constant in their support even in the face of disappointments.

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Raffles Press would like to thank the team for their strong camaraderie and obvious passion for their game. To this correspondent, at least, their unwavering resolve stood as an impressive and poignant display of the Rafflesian Spirit.

Champions at Heart: Soccer Boys Edged out in 5-goal Thriller

By Lee Wei Hern (14S03T) and Nguyen Hoang Nhan (14S03K)
Photos by: Andrew Chua and Geoffrey Lim

01Having progressed to the finals after winning 4-1 on penalties in the semi-finals against Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) last week, our soccer boys were determined to carry on their winning streak by beating Victoria Junior College (VJC) to clinch the National A Division Boys’ Football Championship title, which they last won in 2007.

A great number of supporters turned up to root for our soccer boys, as they prepared to fight for glory. Technical problems before the match prompted supporters to sing the Institutional Anthem without background music, which seemed to herald a tough match ahead, against a strong rival who has already obtained three championships in the last 10 years.

And it was, indeed. Our soccer boys started off shakily and did not seem very focused on their attack, often giving up possession in the first five minutes due to careless tackles and fouls. On the other hand, the opposition was more composed, pressuring our soccer boys with practiced one-two passing. Raffles made few attempts to steal the ball and move forward, clearly overwhelmed by the opposing team as they launched attack after attack.

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Slightly before six minutes into the game, Deferdauz (VJC #7) put his team ahead by maneuvering the ball past two of our defenders on the left wing of the VJC side before calmly slotting the ball past RI goalkeeper Samuel Soo (#1), nestling it in the bottom left corner. VJC continued attacking, thoroughly testing Raffles’ defence that crumbled far-too-easily as our soccer boys applied little pressure, giving VJC much room to send the ball forward.

Deferdauz (#7) continued to edge out our defenders with his agility and superb control of the ball. After cleanly receiving a through pass from midfield, he skillfully turned and launched a powerful shot from outside the penalty box without any challenge from the RI defenders. The ball flew past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Samuel Soo (#1) and landed into the top left corner of the net, leading Raffles to concede their second goal merely six minutes after the first.

The early goals mounted greater pressure on our soccer boys, who were playing with visibly low morale, if not with fear. They were hardly able to establish a proper attacking setup, with subpar control of the ball. VJC used numerous short and concise passes towards the goal to maintain possession, compared to the unpredictable long passing adopted by our soccer boys.

Two minutes before the end of the first half, Dominic Ho (VJC #19) extended the lead for his team by one more goal as he swiftly sneaked behind defenders Damian (RI #13) and Abdul Hannan (RI #6), and aimed a shot towards the goal, which saw the ball glide into the bottom right corner of the net, denying any effort from Samuel Soo (#1) to save the ball. This marked the end of a nightmarish first half, one that our soccer boys will find hard to forget. “The boys were playing with fear,” said RI Coach Philippe Aw.

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Nonetheless, a resounding 3-0 lead by VJC in the first half did not extinguish the fire in our soccer boys nor affect the RI supporters in the second half. The RI contingent continued to cheer fiercely, their undying optimism giving our soccer boys a tremendous morale boost in the uphill battle of making a comeback. The 15-minute halftime break enabled our soccer boys to recover their composure as Coach Philippe requested the boys to simply “forget the scoreline, go out there, enjoy yourself, play the football that you know how to play and reward the huge turnout of fans”.

The start of the second half saw our soccer boys play with even more determination and fighting zeal. Despite the seemingly impossible feat of coming back, Raffles showed their indomitable will to break even by playing more fiercely, and finally challenging the VJC defence, who appeared to be intimidated, even surprised by a sudden surge of energy in our soccer boys. The most compelling evidence was the drastic increase in ball possession that Raffles earned by switching from the inefficient long balls in the first half to more precise short passes. This time, Raffles adopted a more offensive stance while VJC chose to go defensive, so as to defend their strong lead.

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It became increasingly obvious that the VJC team was losing hold on the game as Raffles progressed quickly down the flanks, preventing the opposition from seizing the ball. The mounting pressure from our soccer boys finally took its toll on the VJC team as they started to make mistakes in their defending, causing them to let in two goals within two minutes of madness, destroying their 3-0 lead to make the scoreline 3-2.

Flustered, VJC players began to lose focus, fouling our soccer boys with weakly conceived tackles, in which Muhammad Firdaus bin Asri (VJC #3) obtained a yellow card after a hard foul. The resultant free kick by Captain Jesse Chang (RI #8) indirectly led to the first goal, when defender Koh Jin Kai (VJC #12) attempted to head the ball away, but landed the ball into his own goal just as the clock ticked past the 67th minute.

Merely a minute later, VJC conceded their second goal from another free kick by Jesse (RI #8) some ten meters outside the penalty box on the left flank. This time, goalkeeper Horatio Ho (VJC #13) fumbled and was unable to get his hands on the ball, allowing it to fall nicely inside the goal without any intervention, prompting an eruption of cheers from the RI contingent.

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As the match approached its final moments, Raffles continued to pound VJC shot after shot, and they were finding it more difficult to keep their previously solid defence strong. Raffles played on furiously, with renewed hopes of a tie in the scoreline, as the RI supporters roared in unity “One more goal! One more goal!” Despite being pressed, VJC had rare opportunities to threaten our side. In one instance, keeper Samuel Soo (RI #1) made a brilliant double save, denying a strike by Dominic Ho (VJC #19) and a follow-up shot by Deferdauz (VJC #7) just seconds later.

417837_10151468696746775_1542184145_nIn the end, however, that was not enough to stop VJC from achieving their fourth championship, as the referee blew the final whistle minutes later. Our soccer boys could hardly contain their emotions, slumping onto the pitch and breaking into tears, hugging each other for consolation. Later, striker Zhi Rong (RI #15) shared his thoughts on the game, stating he felt that the team played ‘like champions’. He added, “They are all great players, and we are all champions in our hearts. It was an honour to have played alongside them.”

Our soccer boys might have lost in their final against VJC, but their sheer grit and resilience through the entire season is undeniable. Raffles Press wishes our soccer boys all the best in doing the school proud in their future endeavors.

“To all the supporters who came down yesterday to support us: you gave us something we will never forget. We truly felt you guys behind us, spurring us on, cheering for every block, every good pass, and every challenge won. We felt what it was like to play both for and yet at the same time with the school, to fight for the badge on our shirts, urged on by our fellow Rafflesians and friends. It’s truly been an amazing journey for us and despite the result, to end our season like how we did yesterday was gold, pure gold.” – Raffles Soccer Boys

Although our soccer boys lost the game, they are not beaten.

06

Giving it their best shot: Basketball Girls clinch 2nd Place

By Tyronne Toh (14A01A) and Daniella Low (14A01B)

Photographs by Michael Leong and Georges Ip of the Photographic Society

“We may not have the numbers, but we’ve got the heart!”

This declaration by Bryan Chng from the boys’ basketball team, who was at the Jurong East Sports Complex to support the girls’ team, really demonstrated the spirit of that day.

On the 23rd of May, our girls’ ‘A’ Division basketball team played a tough match against long-time arch-rivals Hwa Chong JC in a remarkable display of grit and sportsmanship. Though they eventually conceded defeat by a score of 45-25, their indomitable spirit surely left an impression on all spectators.

The match got off to an intense start, with HCI’s well-drilled defense blunting our team’s attacks. The Raffles side fought to negotiate around the HCI defense, but HCI drew first blood. RI’s Cheryl Pay (#4), under pressure by two HCI players, executed a skilfull pass to Gladys Molino (#8), combining for a quick response from our team. Our girls kept the pressure up, and Wu You (#15) got the Rafflesian crowd going as she levelled the score at 6-6 with one minute left on the clock. It was soon HCI’s turn to cheer, however, when one of their players scored a 3-pointer and thus closed the first quarter with a 9-6 lead over RI.

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Gladys going on the offensive

The second quarter saw multiple efforts from Wu You (#15) to score, with Gladys (#8) finally scoring with a jumper in the third minute. Although the quarter eventually ended 19-11 in favour of Hwa Chong, it was not without a good defense showing from our team. The team’s swift attacks and intercepts were instrumental in taking the shots, however, Hwa Chong proved to be the quicker and more tenacious team, capitalizing on every opportunity to take possession of the ball.

After a three minute break, the girls were back on court for the second half of the match. Throughout the third quarter, the team seemed less sure of themselves, as HCI asserted their dominance on the court, taking advantage of our players’ hesitancy to force numerous turnovers. There were several missed opportunities to score, much to the supporters’ disappointment, but our girls did not let that bring down their morale. Instead, they continued to give their all, ending the quarter while still trailing 35-15.

In the last quarter, the girls did not lose heart despite lagging behind by a deficit of 20 points. They fought back even harder, with Soh Jia Xuan (#14) netting a basket. Gladys (#8) kept the pressure up, making up for the point deficit with a slick jumper. Jia Xuan (#14) eventually made a successful three-pointer, to the elation of the Rafflesian supporters.

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Both teams vying for the ball

The Rafflesian crowd paled in comparison to the flocks of HCI supporters who flooded the Jurong East stadium. But we made it count. Other members of the basketball team, such as Farah Tan and Bryan Chng did their very best to rouse the crowd, leading them in cheers and  shouting encouragement to the players.

Similarly, though the girls’ team may not have had scored the same number of baskets as our opponents, they definitely played their hearts out on the court, challenging the opposing team for every loose ball and basket.

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Raffles Press salutes the girls for their valiant efforts, and wishes Basketball all the best for next year’s sports season.