story | Pham Le Vi, News Editor

photo | Yale-NUS Student Life

Since she took over as Manager of the Athletics Department in June this year, Li Ling has been exploring ways for sports teams to compete outside of Yale-NUS College and Singapore. Her efforts culminated in Yale-NUS’s first athletics-focused overseas trip to Taipei, Taiwan on Oct. 28.

“[This trip] is the recognition of past commitments the teams put inside, and is also [motivation] for the teams to stay committed and bring athletics to another level,” Ms. Li said.

The trip, which lasted for three days, sent  96 students from 11 sports teams to compete in friendly matches against Taiwanese universities. Students interviewed said that they were grateful for the school’s acknowledgement of their efforts in athletics.

Tinesh Indrarajah ’17, a member of the badminton and floorball team, said that the students in the various classes, especially those who focused on athletics in the first two years, have put in a lot of effort to build the teams to a level where they can compete and not do too badly. “This trip is the culmination of all the years of effort,” he said. “I would never have thought we could have this kind of trip in our first or second year.”

“This is what I trained for,”  Rachel Ong ’17, who has been in the tchoukball team since its inception, added. “Going together with the team I trained so hard with, and also with the new freshmen [was a good way] to bond.” She said that she wanted to be exposed to competitive tchoukball beyond what she had seen in Yale-NUS and Singapore, as Taiwan is the top tchoukball nation in the world and Vanung University (which Yale-NUS played against) was the top team in Taiwan.

However, not all the teams’ opponents were up to standard. Sharlene Chow ’18 from the netball team said that they “played against people who had barely played netball before and the umpire did not really know the rules”. “It was quite a pity that netball had to travel six hours out of Taipei to Kaohsiung to play an hour of games,” she said.

Still, with such a big delegation, it is inevitable that some sports will receive more attention than others, she said. “It might not have been [as] enjoyable for us as for other teams but I really think that [Ms. Li] did her best,” Chow said. “[Ms. Li] has done a very good job not only in initiating but being fully responsible for the entire trip.” Chow suggested it might have been helpful to split the delegation up for future trips.

Ms. Li said that the trip was quite messy since it was organised in approximately one month; Athletics only decided on it after the Inter-Faculty Games (IFGs). She said that future athletics trips would be on a smaller scale.

Some students expressed concerns regarding the duration of the trip, and said that the College should focus first on exchanges with local sports teams before overseas exchanges.

Asher Chua ’19, captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, which did not go on the trip, questioned if difficulties in integrating training and competitions limited the trip’s benefits, due to its short duration. Chua said that during his athletics trip in Junior College, his team trained in the morning and competed in the afternoon for five days consecutively. “[This] kind of intensity [would be] more beneficial for the athletes,” he said.

He also said that “more [could] be done locally first before moving overseas”, such as holding friendly matches with different NUS halls or with other Singaporean universities. He added that while the trip was a good opportunity and motivated teams to keep training beyond IFGs, he thought that “it was kind of expensive to fly everyone [to Taiwan over the weekend].”  

Ms. Li said that students paid 30% of the cost and the school paid the remainder. According to estimates by The Octant, Yale-NUS would have paid at least $73,000 for the students. This amount is approximately equivalent to 15 Summer Arts Scholarships, Summer Language Scholarships or Summer Academic Scholarships (each scholarship is up to $5,000).

Cost Students Total
Flight 1 (28-31 Oct) $360 39 $14,040
Flight 2 (29-31 Oct) $275 38 $10,450
Flight 3 (28-31 Oct) $360 19 $6,840
Total amount paid by students (30%) $31,330
Total amount paid by school (70%) $73,103

Ms. Ling said that the Athletics Department aims to “budget a few teams, probably the top committed teams” to compete overseas at least once a year; these teams would be assessed on commitment levels, training attendance and possibly IFGs or Inter-Collegiate Games (ICGs) results.

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