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No Experience? No Problem!

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story Xie Yihao

Cendana College competitors
Competitors and organizers from Cendana College pose following their victory in the IRCGs. (YNC Photography)

On a typical Saturday night, the Low Tuck Kwong Hall (MPH) is normally occupied by Yale-NUS College sports teams training for their upcoming competitions. On Saturday, March 28, however, it played host to Yale-NUS’s very first Inter Residential College Games (IRCGs), an event tailored to students with less sports experience.

Close to seventy students from Saga, Elm and Cendana competed in badminton, dodgeball, floorball, table-tennis and basketball games. Cendana College emerged victorious with 12 points, followed by Elm College that scored 11 points, and Saga College with 7 points. The event was organized by the Athletics Council and RC3, a Yale-NUS student organization dedicated to promoting interactions between Residential Colleges (RCs).

The IRCGs was organized to promote sports to a wider student population. “The inherent goal of the IRCGs was to allow students who do not play sports or [certain] specific sports to compete”, said Hannah James ’18, a member of the Athletics Council. “We just want to create a space for those who have interest to play on a fun level, no commitment whatsoever,” she said.

The organizers felt that the results were encouraging. Sharlene Chow ’18, the Elm College representative on the Athletics Council, commented that she was happy to “see so many people in the MPH that [she’s] never seen doing sports there before.” She said that she had discovered athletic talents among those who are not the most active sportspersons.

To boost participation regardless of prior experience, the organizers banned players in the ICGs and IFGs from competing in the sport that they played in those events.  The organizers felt while competitiveness level of games could be higher, having players with more experience would discourage amateurs from joining.

College team athletes generally supported this decision. Shaun Tan ’17, an ICG basketball player, said that the rule to exclude the experienced players “allowed other people who played the sport as a hobby or for leisure to play against each other, and it was a lot more fun than the ICGs”.

“I didn’t feel any pressure or any stress to do well or score goals, so it was just for fun and to get to know people,” said Lynn Lee ’17, a ICG Frisbee athlete who represented Cendana College in basketball. While she understood the rationale to exclude higher level players, she added that “if [the organizers] want to make it more serious, the policy might be a bit contentious”.

James and Chow believe concerns about restricted participation could be addressed in the future. Chow is optimistic that as the student population grows, there will be more sports talents and IRCGs will become more interesting to spectate. James added that more diverse recreational games that require no experience such as “capture the flag” can be integrated in subsequent IRCGs for everyone to play together. James emphasized that the “ultimate goal…is to provide everyone the opportunity to play, just that we’re targeting mainly people who don’t play sports [in the IRCGs]”.

According to James, college team athletes can also be involved by “refereeing, organizing the games, or maybe offering a coaching session for anyone who’s interested”. Chow added that the future organizers will facilitate the games through more helpful measures, such as better explaining rules to the inexperienced participants.

Another key objective of the IRCGs was to forge RC identities. As the move to the new campus draws near, Saga, Elm and Cendana will start to develop their own differentiated cultures and identities. “It would be a great way to foster [students’] RC identity by competing in the name of your college,” said James.

Organizers tried to take this into account when they recruited participants. This was done by each RC’s own athletics representative to make it feel more RC-centered. Chow, as the representative of Elm College, said her role was to personally invite students in Elm to take part in various games and highlight the competition’s RC community-building value.

According to James, the next IRCGs would probably span four to six weeks and take place after the 2015 IFGs in fall 2015.

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