For the first time in its 16-year history, Republic Polytechnic’s table tennis team has qualified for the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games.
The girls’ team was crowned champions at this year’s PolytechnicITE(POLITE) Games, while the boys’ team finished third.
From 2014, polytechnic teams had to finish third to qualify for IVP. Previously, all polytechnics participated in IVP.
Mr Eugene Ang, the staff advisor to the table tennis team, was surprised at this year’s success. “We did not have high expectations for the girl’s team. The last time they performed well was in 2012, when they came in second,” he said.
The staff advisor who has been with the team for six years, attributed the team’s success to the influx of year one players and the coach, Mr Gabriel Lee. Of the eight female players in RP’s team, six were first-year students.
Mr Lee, 37, joined the IG last year as its coach. “The big surprise this year was the girls. It feels like a miracle. I never thought they could have gotten first,” he said. “Both teams this year trained very hard. I think part of why both teams did as well as they did was because of how focused they were on a common goal of qualifying for IVP.”
Mr Lee has also sponsored the teams so that they could participate in outside competitions and gain experience. “People might ask why I do that, but I want to think long term for the future of the team,” he said.
Mr Lee added: “I think that if I give my best, my kids will give their best too.”
Jael Soh, 20, a final-year Marine Science and Aquaculture student, and a former captain of the girls’ team, said: “This year, I think the things that set us apart from other years was the team’s chemistry, and that our coach pushed us further because he knew we were capable of more.”
Jason Ang, the team captain, shared the same sentiments. “The vibe has really changed after our win. I see a lot more smiles during training,” said the second-year Material Sciences student. The team will be playing in the IVP competition in January, 2020.