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Fantastic But Not Flawless

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story Xie Yihao

Yale-NUS versus USP Basketball Game
Yale-NUS beat Tembusu and USP in the ICGs, who tied on 34 points. (YNC Photography)

In their reflections, Yale-NUS College athletes liked how the Inter-College Games (ICGs) were organized and acknowledged the effort and dedication by the officials and organizers, but noted areas for improvement.

Last month, Yale-NUS won the 2015 ICGs with a total of 46 points, clinching five gold and seven silver medals in 16 events. This was an improvement from last year when Yale-NUS came second to Tembusu, with thirty points in total. Despite Yale-NUS’s success, issues surfaced in the event’s organization, including clarity of regulations, safety and refereeing.

Many thought the policies regarding participation of Inter-Varsity Polytechnic (IVP) and Singapore University Games (SUNIG) players were confusing. Aaron Ong ’18 was banned from competing in Ultimate Frisbee as a result of miscommunicated rules. “When the ICGs were first conceptualized, its committee set a rule that disallows NUS Varsity athletes who competed in IVP from competing in IFG and ICG events for their respective sports,” said Ong who was not a IVP player but a SUNIG athlete, in an email interview. But, when the names of the Ultimate Frisbee players were submitted to the organizer, he was told that he was not eligible to compete because he was a SUNIG player. “I was just more disappointed at the fact that I couldn’t be there on the field to play with the team, after training together for so many months,” said Ong, who was the only member in the team with competitive experience.

In terms of safety issues, Shelby Ellis Goh ’18, the captain of the women’s soccer team, recounted in an interview conducted online about how one teammate sprained her ankle during a game, and “the referee took really long to do anything about it and in the end the commotion alerted the medics and not him, and the medic was ill prepared as well.” While no serious injuries happened, safety protocols could be improved upon.

Some also said that the student referees in certain games were not professional enough. According to Rakesh Prabhakaran ’17, there were no flagrant fouls or foul-outs in the basketball games. As a result, the basketball final between Yale-NUS and University Scholars Programme (USP) was too rough and physical. Ong ’18 also said he felt that professional referees would make the games fairer. He commented that there is room for biased decisions when students are refereeing games of their own college and their friends’ college.

However, issues like these are unsurprising given the scale of the event undertaken by the ICG’s organizing committee. The committee consisted of students from all five Colleges in University Town (UTown) and was responsible for ensuring the tournament ran as smoothly as possible.

Tinesh Indrarajah ’17, a member of the committee said in a written interview that logistics were the biggest challenge. For instance, for each basketball match, a lot of preparation is required. “I need to make sure the UTown sports halls are booked, ensure there are game balls, carry the table and chairs for the officials, get the scoreboards from one college and 100 Plus cartons from another, keep track of the medic’s contact details, buy ice for injuries,” Indrarajah explained about his roles.

Indrarajah also mentioned several measures that sought to ensure fairness in the games. Match schedules were randomly generated from drawing lots, and teams would only find out when and against whom they would be playing on the actual day of the game. The referees were usually Inter-Varsity Polytechnic (IVP) players who should know the sport well. They were also quite impartial even if they refereed their own College’s games, Indrarajah commented. Despite these challenges, the tournament was generally regarded as a success. Goh “didn’t see too many flaws” in her ICG experience, saying that “if there were any, [the organizers] dealt with them well, meaning I think it was run pretty well.” Similarly, Prabhakaran felt that the games ran smoothly, adding that he was glad that “there was some true sportsmanship and competition in the games”, and that he had enjoyed playing in the ICGs.

The ICGs concluded on Sunday, Feb. 22 with a closing ceremony held in the Tembusu Multi-purpose Hall.

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