Republic Polytechnic’s (RP) Basketball Girls team ended a seven-year drought when they finally emerged as champions in the Polytechnic-Institute of Technical (POL-ITE) games on Oct 23, 2019. The team scored a total of five wins out of five during the season, with the final game a thrilling 54-43 victory against Temasek Polytechnic.
When the results were announced, the students burst into tears as their efforts and perseverance paid off. The last time RP’s basketball team won gold in the POL-ITE games was in 2012, and since then the teams could only watch the champions’ trophy from afar as they stayed outside the top two positions.
Finishing at the pinnacle feels especially sweet for the captain of the current team, Tan Jun Xiu, 20, a Diploma in Health Management and Promotion (DHMP) student from the School of Sports, Health & Leisure (SHL). Jun Xiu was in the team that picked up consecutive bronzes in 2017 and 2018. She said: “The win was very important to the team as we wanted to achieve more than what they have been achieving the past few years. Thus, we set the goal as a team.”
The team’s coach, 65-year-old Ng Choon Hong, said: “I was happy that they managed to shoot a lot and get a lot of points for the games.”
Their road to their success, however, was not an easy one as they had to undergo a rigorous training schedule every week for three months. The team met up thrice weekly to train and initially started off with physical training and conditioning to build up stamina and strength, which was the toughest for them. During the peak season, their training sessions went up to three hours and they worked on strategies for plays.
Mr Ng said: “I think they got used to running 200 laps.”
The team was also comprised of third-year students who were out on internships. With not a lot of time in their hands, the students had to set aside time and come for training right after work, even if it meant they were late.
Desiree Lee Si Qi, 20, was one of them. Despite her tight schedule, the ex-captain from SHL was driven by her strong passion for the sport. “The seniors wanted to play together as a team one last time to get the best results for our coach, who has been supporting us all these years,” said the Diploma in Sports and Exercises Science (DSES) student.
Each of the teammates also had different skill sets and experiences, making it difficult for them to come as one. They did not have a proper regime in the beginning but still tried their best to play as their coach taught them.
Jun Xiu shared that there were moments everyone felt that a win was not possible, but as the season went on, she saw how much everyone was putting in effort and thought to herself that she shouldn’t give up. “I just kept motivating the team to keep pushing and that no matter what happens just continue to fight hard even if we are losing,” she said.
For the girls, this will be an unforgettable moment in their journey to success. “Whatever we set out to achieve, we did even better than what we expected ourselves to do and it was just like an emotional rollercoaster to think that after three years, our hard work paid off,” said Desiree.