by Louisa Li (16A13A)
Additional reporting by Teo Xue Heng (15S06C)
Hidden behind a veil of confounding and ridiculous sounding terminology (ruff, dummy) is the complex world of Contract Bridge: a realm where only the bravest dare enter, and where only the fittest survive. Over the June holidays, Raffles Bridge sent 2 teams to prove their mettle in the annual Hunger Games, or rather, the National Inter-Schools Bridge Tournament. They engaged in 2 grueling days of intense competition, fought endlessly from 9 in the morning to 7 at night, and eventually emerged from the fray with commendable results- as Champions.
The 2 RI teams consisting of 12 members in total duelled with the other 6 teams in double round robin matches. In an effort to amass Victory Points (20 points per round) to gain an upper hand over their competitors, RI pitted 4 members each round against their opponents, facing fierce competition especially from That Chinese School Near Bukit Timah Road, which sent 3 of the 7 participating teams. To win the tournament, RI had to match their results and beat them head-on as well.
However, it was not a smooth-sailing journey. After a horrifically unexpected 2-18 destruction by VJC in just the second match of the day, RI Team 1 (RI1) bounced back to beat HC Team 1 (HC1) 20-0. RI2, trailing close behind leaders HC1 performed stunningly well after two defeats by winning all the other matches on the first day, including a brilliant 20-0 win over VJC. Cheng Xingyu (16S06M) and Shi Jing Lin (16S06J) in particular played especially well as a partnership to bring in VPs. By the end of the first day, RI2 had propped themselves up to a comfortable 2nd place, trailing HC1 by a mere 4 points. As Bridge Chairperson Teo Xue Heng (15S06C) shared, “both RI teams performed beyond their expectations, except in different ways… so there were mixed feelings going into the second day playing a ‘catchup game’”.
It is with those feelings of trepidation and anticipation that the 2 RI teams went into the second day, and the tables were turned this time. RI1 got off to a very strong start with 20-0 wins over RI2, HC2 and HC3 and 16-4 win against NUSH, but HC1 played just as strongly and the VP difference still remained at about 5 VP before lunch. The turning point came when HC1 lost to RI2 6-14, allowing RI1 to overtake HC1 by 5 VP. The slim lead was maintained until the final game where RI1 had to play HC1 head on. HC1 had to win by at least 5 imps to clinch the championship title, and as an insider shared, “4 imps is almost a non-existent cushion… the scores were dangerously close.” And it did seem like the tides were turning. HC1 slowly built up a 12 imp lead, and all hope was almost lost – until Wang Tingxuan (15S06L) made a 3NT on the final board of the entire tournament to score RI1 10 imps. Despite HC1 beating RI1 by 2 imps, it wasn’t enough to prevent RI1 from clinching the title.
On the other hand, RI2 bounced back from an early 0-20 loss to RI1 to cement their position at third place, having a 19 VP lead over VJC in fourth place before their final head-on match. They could afford to lose 1-19 to VJC and still get third place, but it was not to be: the last set of 8 boards were tough and a slew of errors left them to a punishing 0-20 loss. Despite the good plays and the build-up, RI2 had faltered at the final moment to allow VJC to nick 3rd place away from right under their noses. RI Team 2 Captain Wu Hao Hsuan (15S06C) shares: “It was a really great experience for the team especially for the J1s who will have the opportunity to represent the school again in the Nationals next year. Although RI2 didn’t fare as well as RI1, I think all of us gave our best shot and that’s what really matters. I truly hope that the J1s would treasure this experience and dominate the event next year, bringing back glory to the school.”
All in all, Xue Heng reflects that the journey “wasn’t easy” as “all 3 partnerships in our team had partnership issues at some point or another during this 1.5 years.” Despite that, Raffles Bridge managed to rally together and pull through to emerge victorious, and the last win was “really emotional”. Raffles Press would like to congratulate Raffles Bridge on their victory, and wish them luck for the upcoming tournaments!
Team 1: Liu Yuchen (15S06J), Yu Yuxiang (15S06J), Teo Xue Heng (15S06C), Liang Shi Yi (15S06G), Wang Tingxuan (15S06L), Ren Siyu (15S06L).
Team 2: Wu Hao Hsuan (15S06C), Ng Wei Jie (15S03F), Daniel Tan (15S06P), Reuben Foo (15S06L), Cheng Xingyu (16S06M), Shi Jing Lin (16S06J).
by: Adelyn Tan (16A01E), Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E) and Huang Jiawen (16S06G)
Photos by Hee Xin Wei (15S03I) and Chang Po Chun (16S03K)
20th May saw our Badminton Girls playing their finals against NYJC for a shot at 2nd runners’ up, and our Badminton Boys going toe-to-toe against AC in a bid to earn the championship title for this season. With four matches going on at once, the atmosphere in Toa Payoh Sports Hall was tense, with a strong show of support from spectators looking forward to intense performances from both the Girls and Boys’ teams.
Badminton is a deceptively simple sport, requiring players to win rallies so as to score points; when a player wins a rally and scores a point, they then serve again from the alternate service court. The side that first scores 21 points, or 2 more points than their opponent in the event of a deuce, wins a game and wins the match once they win three games.
Wei Yee (16S03K) represented the RI Badminton Girls in their first match of the day. One would expect the very first player of the day stepping up to the court to suffer from bouts of nervousness, but Wei Yee was confident in her strokes, maintaining a comfortable lead throughout the game. Not long after the match had started, she managed to secure a win for RI, boosting the morale of the team and their supporters, setting the mood for the next game.
In the doubles, we had Kelly Tan (15S07B) and Charissa Wong (15S03G) in the first doubles, and Charis Chan (16S07A) and Elizabeth Yaw (16S06C) in the second. The coordination within each pair was seamless, enabling the RI girls to maintain strong lines of defense while directing their attacks at the blind spots in their opponents’ line of defense. Keeping up a steady momentum, both pairs sailed smoothly to victory with scores of 21 – 09, 21 -11 for the last games of the 1st and 2nd doubles matches respectively.
Particularly intense was the RI badminton girls’ 2nd singles match of the day, the follow-up game to two winning streaks, played by Chung Shiqi (16S06O). A seasoned and experienced badminton player, Shiqi had a powerful smash that she often used to her advantage. After dashing to the front of the net for the shuttlecock and sending it flying to the end of the court opposite to where her opponent was positioned, she won the first game with a clean score of 21-13. At the beginning of the second game, while Shiqi initially had a lead, her adversary soon began to catch up. The crowd watched with bated breath as the match turned into a battle of wits, skill and strength with many impressive moves made on the part of both players. Despite facing intense pressure, Shiqi kept up the pace, edging her opponent out point by point. Finally pulling away from her opponent towards the 20-point mark, she ended the game with a decisive hard slam, securing the 3rd match for RI girls’ team with a score of 22-20. All the players held their own with impressive footwork and technique, never faltering under pressure and showing remarkable teamwork when playing doubles, clinching their well-deserved third place title for RI.
Likewise, the Badminton Boys fought the good fight, keeping their opponents on their toes at every turn. Their first two games were closely matched — with supporters cheering them on all the way, the players put in all their effort and never once gave up or allowed frustration to get the better of them. Our boys fought hard till the very end, leaving the court with their heads held high despite their losses in the first two games.
RI proceeded to turn up the heat in the next two games, beginning with the 2nd Singles game played by Chin An (15S07A) who kept the game all over the court, consistently keeping the pressure up. He made several drop shots, clearly outmatched his opponent with his skilful net play, and won the RI Boys’ team its first game of the afternoon with impressive scores of 21-8 and 21-3.
The strong play was sustained through the 2nd Doubles, with Li Zhengxi (15S06B) and Jackie Tan (15S03C) showing commendable coordination, keeping it point for point with AC from the very beginning. With three points scored by AC within the span of a minute early in the game, the tension in the hall was palpable, only heightened by AC equalizing with RI at the 14th point. A neck-and-neck game right from the very start, both pairs made many comebacks, keeping the scoreline extremely tight. With capable players on both sides, there was a great deal of skill on display, with the point gap steadily narrowing and culminating in an intense last bout. Despite the pressure, both players kept their cool, worked together, and pushed through to win their second game. (21-19, 21-19)
With the score at 2-2, it all came down to the final game between Daryl Ng (15S06S) and Ronald Yeo of AC. Arguably the most breathtaking game of the afternoon, the final Boys’ singles saw a huge variety of lobs, smashes and drop shots traded all over the court, with Daryl containing Ronald impressively well in the first set (21-11). The second set followed with both players keeping each other on their toes, the point gap closing rapidly as the minutes passed, equalizing at the 14th point. A series of deuces ensued with scores keeping both sides on knife-edge as an epic exchange ended the set, only ending when AC took a victory 24-22.
It was down to the final set to determine if RI would win the championship title. It was one which saw RI not get off to a good start, with a 1-4 scoreline in AC’s favour during the first few minutes. At this point, Daryl put down his racquet, took a bit of a walk on the court, took a drink, and then came back in every sense of the phrase. Within moments, it was evident that his form was much more on point, with a series of smashes that led to a 6-6 equalizing comeback. A few more rallies brought us to a scoreline of 8-9, and a realization that this RI-AC match was the only match in the entirety of the hall which was still on. A long rally between the players saw total silence from all within the four walls of the sports hall. A kind of magic hung in the air, as everyone watched a stunning display of agility and grace, spellbound, and the only sounds were those of the skids and hits as they played – a stark contrast to the how the RI supporters erupted in thunderous cheers when Daryl scored to equalize after that particularly intense rally. The spectators held their breath when the scoreline reached 20-14, and a final quick smash brought RI to a score of 21-14 and the championship title for the Badminton Boys
“We really wanted this. We wanted to make it count,” as quoted by Kelly, the Girls’ captain. The afternoon truly was a triumphant battle of wits, endurance and strength from both the Boys and Girls’ teams. Perhaps best summed up by Vice Captain Zhengxi: “We came here. We did our job. Job well done.” Indeed it was. From us here at Raffles Press, well done, Badminton teams! Our sincere well – wishes for all future competitions following an incredible season this year.
“Raffles is golden, witness the moment.” – Daryl Ng, Boys’ Captain (15S06S)
Raffles Badminton 2015:
Boys: Daryl Ng (15S06S), Li Zhengxi (15S06B), Eng Chin An (15S07A), Jackie Tan (15S03C), Nigel Siew (15S97B), Ong Xing Xiang (16S06N), Zhu Bolin (16S03F), Neo Wei Ren (16S03M), Qi Xueqian (16S06F), Deo Teo (16S03S)
Girls: Kelly Tan (15S07B), Lee Shu Zhen (15A03A), Charissa Wong (15S03G0, Chin Wei Yee (16S03K), Charis Chan (16S07A), Elisabeth Yaw (16S06C), Goh Jia Ling (16S06S), Agnes Tan (16S06N), Zuo Hao Lin (16S03N)
1st singles: Zhu Bolin
1st doubles: Deo Teo & Qi Xueqian
2nd singles: Eng Chin An
2nd doubles: Li Zhengxi & Jackie Tan
3rd singles: Daryl Ng
1st singles: Chin Wei Yee
1st doubles: Kelly Tan & Charissa Wong
2nd singles: Chung Shiqi
2nd doubles: Charis Chan & Elizabeth Yaw
3rd singles: Lee Shu Zhen
by Gladys Lim (16S03K)
Photographs by Hee Xin Wei (15S03I) and Gabrielle Jeyaseelan (15S06A) of Raffles Photographic Society
Raffles entered the last game of their season unbeaten, but not complacent. Despite the clean sweep of their last 7 games, the team had trained hard and stayed dedicated this year, and the fighting spirit blazed in each one of them that afternoon on 22 May, as they readied themselves for the pivotal match of their season. The final match was against River Valley High School (RV), whose team had been credited for making it to the finals with only 9 players, and to boot, had clinched victory against tough opponents from Hwa Chong Institution. But in spite of this, the Raffles team was determined to put on the best fight of their season.
Once the match commenced, RV started off with the first centre pass, but a missed catch by their team’s Goal Attack (GA) coupled with a quick pick up by our team’s GA Tessa Wong, and an accurate shot by Goal Shooter (GS) Isabelle Belanger put our team ahead of their opponents. This boosted the Rafflesian team’s morale and steadied their play. Jeimin, who played in Centre position, provided good support for the team with her effective leaps and considerable reach. Timely runs and good flow on the attacking side allowed the team to take a comfortable lead of 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, our team’s defence increased the intensity of our play. Good coverage by our Wing Defense (WD) Yvonne Goh, enabled Goal Defense (GD) Rukimini Roy and Goal Keeper (GK) Ayshath Zaseela to intercept and make turnovers for the team. Our tight defence cut off RV’s offensive path, making it tough for them to advance their attacks. The pressure led to a held ball that gave Raffles possession. Nearing the end of the quarter, GD Rukmini Roy made a dash out of the goal circle for an unexpected interception from their opponent’s Wing Attack (WA). The second quarter concluded with Raffles putting in 17 shots and RV putting in 5 shots.
Entering the third quarter, Raffles continued their lead but RV did not give in. A long lob into their goal circle was successfully shot in by their GA. Yet, we stayed alert and WA Freda Mah was able to make an interception and score. The shooters and mid-court players communicated well during a smooth trade of passes between WA Freda Mah and GA Tessa Wong. They were assisted by Eyu Yan Yan, who took the court as a Centre. She displayed keen foresight and made quick runs into free space. Tessa Wong also executed swift movements in the goal third with GS Isabelle Belanger who helped put in shots. With a score of 42-19 in favour of Raffles, the quarter drew to a close.
For the last quarter, the coach substituted some players in to give all the team members an opportunity for court time and to experience the adrenaline on court. Nadia Quek took on the position of GA and scored an accurate shot a fair distance away from the goal post. Natalie Rodrigues who entered as a WD also put up a good show with her skilful deflections and interceptions. On the defensive side, GD Grace Tay made some powerful jumps against her opponents in the goal circle. Geraldyn Leong played as WA and did exceptional feeding of the ball to the shooters, ensuring that the opponent’s defenders could not challenge the ball. River Valley on the other hand, made conservative short passes to put in 8 more shots. The game ended with a score of 52-29 to Raffles, securing our girls a triumphant victory.
To the spectators, the competition faced by Raffles Netball may have seemed insignificant – judging from their seemingly easy victory. But they undoubtedly faced much internal pressure to succeed. For this season, the team’s regular coach, who had been out due to the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, was substituted by a former national coach, Mr Goh Seck Tuck. Tessa Wong (15S07A), Captain of the Raffles Netball team says, “Coach was very serious, dedicated and experienced. He was straightforward, and expected only the best from us, yet was understanding of the struggles we went through. He has taught us to fight against the odds, and helped us to enrich our capabilities, such as by challenging us [through giving] new drills.” Indeed, their coach had impressed the beauty of overcoming obstacles not as one, but as a whole, upon the Netball team. For everyone, it had indeed been a memorable season as each had a unique takeaway and renewed passion for the sport, especially after constant and tiring – but meaningful – trainings to amp up for the match. There was one thing the team would be sure to remember: the sky’s the limit. Every process determines the outcome, and indeed it was a well-deserved championship title for Raffles Netball.
List of Players:
Ayshath Zaseela, Isabelle Belanger, Grace Tay, Natalie Rodrigues, Freda Mah, Eyu Yan Yan, Geraldyn Leong, Rukmini Roy, Tessa Wong Ting, Yvonne Goh, Tang Jeimin
by Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E), and Olivia Tan (16A01E)
photos by Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E), and Raffles Photography Society
May 15 saw our Basketball Girls playing a decisive match against National Junior College in their (successful!) quest for third place. The team had fought hard on their way to the finals, facing formidable opponents, such as Hwa Chong Institution in their semifinals. During the intense match, #4 Bernice drew first blood with a clean shot that was met with cheers by the Rafflesians watching. Throughout the first quarter against Hwa Chong Institution, the adept team managed to stay ahead of their opponents with a score of 24-16, leading by an impressive 8-point difference.
Together with Captain #12 Woon Wei Jing keeping the team together with a spark of her own, the girls managed to press on with extraordinary three-pointers at the most unexpected moments of pressure. Both spectators and players could feel the intensity of the atmosphere during the third and fourth quarter, it wasn’t a surprise that both sides made a couple of slip-ups in the passes. We changed our line-up periodically to break the flow of Hwa Chong’s play, as #4 Bernice substituted #9 Charmaine, and #9 Charmaine later subbing #12 Wei Jing. Time-outs were called at the most burning moments with the coaches on each side rattling out strategy by strategy, raising their voices at times to get their points across with fierce sternness.
Despite making efforts to resist the mental and physical pressures on them, the girls experienced severe cramps nearing the buzzer, rendering them immobile with pain. It was also unfortunate that out of the eight players that played that day, at least four were fouled or injured. But in the end, it was a moving to watch how each and every one of them got up, stood strong, played on — against pain or pressure, they never once gave up.
There were moments when the Rafflesian crowd was slightly miffed, especially when the referee called travelling and pushing; despite protests and the incredulous looks on the team’s faces. With Hwa Chong narrowing the point gap in the game’s last few minutes, tensions climaxed, pressuring both sides’ coaches to call a timeout whenever the opponent had control. The court had an air of cutting distress during overtime, with each side searching desperately for an edge over their opponents. But throughout the process, several accidental fouls were made under pressure—resulting in a constant exchange of free throws. As expected, making two clean shots under such intimidating circumstances with all eyes on you (including the ticking time) is not an easy feat. However, the team’s #10 Lim Jie En who was subbed in at the crucial time managed to make both shots to the roaring cheers of the crowd, upping the team’s morale by a notch.
If anything at all, it was their teammates’ injuries that caused the most mental pain for each player. #4 Bernice Yeo crashed to the ground with a serious cramp that ran from her toes to her thighs, refusing to subside despite efforts to apply muscle sprays. However, Bernice was not the first to experience the cramps. Due to muscle fatigue from high intensity workout, several of Bernice’s teammates experienced similar pains—yet it was apparent that her cramps were of much higher severity. The girl’s coach, concerned and anxious, went onto the court to carry Bernice on her back to the bench, calling for timeout. It was indeed heart wrenching to see a fellow Rafflesian in such pain, but the sight of the coach’s care and concern was met with a warmly-moved applause from the spectators of both schools.
With a couple of key players down, it was indeed a rough time for the team, considering that they were already shorthanded due to injuries. Moreover, it was evident that Hwa Chong was not going to back down as they managed to break the draw on the scoreboard by making two consecutive two-point baskets, thus having a lead over Raffles. The atmosphere on the court was taut with concentration and desperation; and despite #4 Bernice’s re-entry into the court, the girls, under pressure and not in their best condition, were having trouble keeping up, thus ending the match with a close 62-58.
Captain Woon Wei Jing was gracious in agreeing to answer our questions, in spite of the team coming so close to winning. She admits that they “could have done better”, and that they should not have “let their guard down” during the first half. However, Wei Jing was clearly proud of her teammates, as she knew that they had “fought really hard” and she was very “impressed” with the team’s “good spirit”.
The Coach’s statements echoed that of the captain’s, agreeing that each and every one of the girls “played their best” and “persevered to the last minute” despite being clearly “shorthanded”. So that afternoon, the girls went home with their hearts heavy, but also determined, as they looked ahead to their third-fourth match against National Junior College on Friday.
The 3rd – 4th match began well, as we gained an early lead, with #4 Bernice scoring the opening points, and the girls managing to win rebounds and constantly pressure their opponents, causing NJ to miss many shots. But midway through the quarter, NJ subbed all 5 players, while our 5 remained. With their fresher players, NJ managed to turn the tide in their favour. Within the last two minutes of the quarter, NJ scored 9 consecutive points, and it didn’t help that their last two baskets were 3-pointers. Our morale took a definite blow, as we ended this quarter down 8 – 12. The pressure was on to catch up.
The second quarter saw a bit of a stalemate, and a subsequent breakthrough by our girls. Initially, it was frustrating to see that whenever we closed in, NJ would score and pull away again, keeping us under constant pressure. Our team held on though, with a notable play being where #4 Bernice made a spectacular move to keep the ball in play by jumping out of the court and knocking it back in before she touched the ground — a testament to the skill level of the players in this match. The pressure escalated further however, when NJ began to score unanswered, till by mid quarter, the score stood at 11 – 20. The tension was palpable. NJ was pulling away, and the girls had to turn the game around. The coach called a timeout, breaking NJ’s momentum, and giving the girls a breather and strategy refresher. It seemed to work, with #9 scoring right after, and again later on, this time with 2 defenders on her. It was clear that we’d regained our momentum. We ended the quarter well, closing the gap to 17 – 22 with some satisfying plays. One which stood out was when #6 Rachel failed to convert her free throws but kept going, intercepting a pass immediately after her throws, and successfully scoring a 2 pointer. So for this quarter, though we were still trailing behind, now we had the momentum, and we were chasing NJ down.
During the half–time break, one of the boys’ basketball players (who declined to be named) mentioned NJ’s strategy of continually substituting their players, while we were, as the coach mentioned in the semi-finals, “shorthanded”. It was thus an uphill battle, with the girls facing more well-rested opponents. As he said, “the only limiting factor is stamina.” But the girls pushed on, with the 3rd quarter seeing them close the gap and really chase down NJ. Captain #12 Wei Jing opened the quarter with a brilliant 3 pointer which closed the gap and ramped up the pressure on NJ, which mounted even further when #9 Charmaine equalized at 22 all, setting off a wave of cheers from our side. What followed was an almost point-for-point exchange for the rest of the quarter, and at one point the score stayed unchanged for three and a half minutesThe atmosphere was charged, with our spontaneous cheers of “Defeeeeeend defend!…” interspersed with shouts of “D-UP!” from the boys’ basketball team. Both teams had fought neck and neck this quarter, with every point being hard fought, and that set the mood as we entered the intense final quarter.
The final quarter started with NJ trying to pull away as they widened the point gap to a 26 – 34. In between the fight for an upperhand, NJ subbed everyone, again trying to wear us out. Perhaps because they were more energized than our players, resulting in a subsequent pair of free throws, bringing the score to 30 – 36. But they couldn’t take away our momentum, as we caught up 35 – 36, with a stunning shot from #4 Bernice from under all three of her defenders, converting one free throw, and #9 subsequently scoring both her free throws to thunderous cheers, an incredible feat considering how exhausted she would have been this late in the game. The comeback was real.
Perhaps all too real for NJ, as they called a timeout; maybe feeling the need to restrategize and break our flow. During the timeout, there was anticipation in the air. We were a mere point behind, and down to the last minutes. So when a decisive 2-pointer was made our side erupted in cheers, with the score of 37 – 36 putting us in the lead for the first time since the first quarter. The girls were on a roll, and at 1m16s to go, #12 Wei Jing scored a stunning 3 pointer from the right, straight down into the hoop, securing our lead in a truly spectacular fashion. With a minute to go, the girls were able to maintain their cool amidst the cheers, the palpable tension, and their own exhaustion, and it was incredible to watch. When the buzzer finally sounded, all of the supporters on our side simply exploded with mirth, shouting and cheering with wild, total abandon (this writer was hoarse by the end of it all, and had to desperately search for water before doing the interviews). The girls were too worn-out to celebrate, but one could see it on their faces — that mixed in with all the exhaustion, was also joy at having just played an incredible match.
After the match and their team talk, we again caught up with the captain Wei Jing about the game. As it turns out, they has been training thrice weekly for three hours at a time since the holidays, and she shared that in fact one of the most memorable parts of the season was the trainings, “that [they] were able to endure the trainings as a team” and “never gave up”. Their training clearly paid off, as they managed to overcome “all the cramps, all the injuries, foul trouble” and mental and physical pressure, as Wei Jing shared. For this match, they faced a couple of obstacles in particular, with one being their short-handedness, since as Wei Jing shared, they really had “few that can play such long minutes, up and down” for about an hour, and it was “mentally and physically tiring” for those on the court. Also, nearing the end of the season, many had sustained injuries, and couldn’t continue to come down for training, further exacerbating this issue. This game also saw them facing foul troubles, and Wei Jing provided an insight into this. Apparently, they were taking a “long time to adapt to a new style of defense”, from ‘zone defense’ (which is slower) to ‘full court man’ (which is faster paced). On the whole though, they pushed through and overcame these, and as Wei Jing said to sum up, though it was “not exactly what we expected earlier on, [she] would like to thank the team for putting in so much effort, and that they hope to continue this intensity for next year, and get even better results”. That afternoon, despite the constant pressure, the exhaustion, and the tension as the game wore on, the girls played even harder and eventually ‘bounced’ back. It was incredibly moving to watch, and Press would like to give our most heartfelt congratulations to them on their 3rd place! Through these two games, the girls’ basketball team truly showed us what it means to hang in there, and give your all. They showed us what it meant to be a team — that they didn’t simply support each other because they were a team; they are a team because they support each other.
by Kristal Ng (16S07C), Tasharani Palani (16S03P), Ian Cheng (16S03M)
Photos by Gabrielle Jeyaseelan (15S06A)
The rumble of thunder marked a sense of foreboding over the spectators in Yishun Sports Hall as the A Division Floorball boys took to the floor. Despite the heavy rain, the hall was filled with Rafflesian supporters as they cheered on the floorball boys.
After drawing with them 1-1 during the group stages,the Raffles Boys Floorball team were once again faced with their fierce competitors, Victoria Junior College. Buoyed by an undefeated streak all season, our floorball team looked set to claim their championship trophy once again.
Our boys definitely proved themselves worthy as defending champions as RI flew to an impressive start with three successive goals within the first period. The first was made by Jun Wei (#17) from mid court, and the mint green ball streaked past the the defenders into the waiting net. The subsequent goals by Zong Wei (#88), and Amirul (#45) were no less impressive, and it invoked roars from the watching crowd.
The second period was no less intense with great saves by both goalkeepers, their quick reflexes swooping to scoop up the ball and shut out any attack; Haziq’s (#29) skillful maneuvering was clear as he wrested the ball from VJC players’ grasp. VJC successfully took advantage of a slight falter to slip in a goal at the 10th minute. Nearing the end, our boys seemed to take a more defensive stance, executing practised long distance passing and dribbling.
Tensions were definitely high in the last period, with Amirul (#45) getting whalloped on the head three minutes into the game and having to sit out. However the injury was not serious and he resumed play once more. An alarming clash between Jun Wei (#17) and the opponent goalie also drew gasps from spectators on the stands, but both boys recovered quickly, patting each other on the backs in a show of sportsmanship.
RI regained control of the arena again as Zong Wei executed a “well practised” move of sweeping around the goal to flick in the ball, two and a half minutes before the end. VJC tried to make a last minute comeback in the last 17 seconds, with an impressive shot that flew in an arc over the players heads into the goal, but it was not enough as RI once again emerged as the A Division Floorball Boys’ Champions.
Later, goalie Jared Tan attributed their success to “the three early goals… we expected this game to be close later on and [when] it got closer, we were afraid [we] cannot score.” But ultimately, “We won thanks to a good team.”
To add on, some floorball members pointed out two players who outdid themselves during the game and generally overall during the season. In particular, we have Shaun Pua (#13) (15S06S), who despite picking up the sport only in J1, managed to improve tremendously within the short few months leading up to the season to “become really, an integral member to the team”, to quote a member who chose to remain unnamed. Apart from Shaun, Zong Wei (#88) was also highlighted for his tremendous efforts and performance during the game, scoring “two amazing wrap goals that really got the crowd going and got our team pumped up”, one to get the ball rolling, and the other that eventually sealed the game for RI. Silas (#22) had a few words of commendation for him: “As he and I rotate in the same positions, I know how hard it is to play as a forward and keep our composure at times. He really showed me today how to keep calm and patient and use his chances well, and refocused after every shift to do better in the next.”
To provide a brief behind-the-scenes glance into the floorball boys’ preparation for the season, they slogged for hours at physical training in thrice weekly sessions, that led up to as late as 8.45pm at times. Aside from that, their coach also ensured that they didn’t neglect their personal mental and emotional development as a member of a team, putting them through reflective thinking to analyze their performances during games and trainings. Even as training intensity and frequency lightened, players still ensured that they were in optimal physical condition via runs and exercises in their own time. Thus, it is with resounding agreement that the team members claim that they were “really proud of the team after seeing their hard work come into fruition”. Lee Minhao (16S03P) mentioned that even as “a non-team member of the CCA, I can’t help but feel honoured to be part of this CCA”.
In retrospect, to summarize one player’s sentiments over the game, we quote Silas Choe (16S03P) who said “All in all, we went out on court and got the job done, and that’s what matters. Honestly, the win was not very important to me at the start, but it just made the privilege of playing the match that much sweeter.”
RI – VJC : 4 -2
Tng Zong Wei (#88) – 2 goals
Foo Jun Wei (#17)
Muhammad Amirul Afiq (#45)
Josiah Lim (#3) – 2 goals
#1 Sean Jou (15S03L), #3 Julian Quak (15S03B), #7 Kenny Goh (15S07B), #9 Joshua Teo (15S06N), #10 Ethan Lim (15S06E), #11 Ng Juin Jie (15S03G), #14 Nicholas Ho (15S06S) #13 Shaun Pua (15S06S) #16 Daniel Ong (15S06G), #18 Brian Tan (15S06M), #34 Russell Yip (15A01E), #45 Amirul Afiq (15A03A), #60 Justin Tan (15S06O), #77 Clement Chew (15S06N), #92 Gerald Peh (15S07A), #8 Sean Toh (16S03R), #71 Jared Tan (16S03K), #88 Tng Zong Wei (16S03J), #22 Silas Choe (16S03P), #29 Haziq Rased (16A03A), #19 Kamal Hariz (16S07D), #17 Foo Jun Wei (16S03S)