Friday, September 28, 2018

Sports do not build character; they reveal it ~ John Wooden

About 3 years ago just around this time, Dumpling started her little journey playing Netball. She returned home from school one day to tell me that she played Netball during a PAL lesson and promptly asked us to enrol her for training outside. As she was only in Primary 1 then, I recall that I was amused by her sharing and even asked if she was sure or was it that they played Captain’s Ball. To this day I still recall the indignant look on her face when she shared that it was indeed netball. Those lessons, started her love for that ball game and the fire has not been extinguished.


So, for the next 2+ years, she has been learning from and playing for 2 clubs outside. From simple ball drills to body conditioning work, she’s been at it almost every Saturday morning and would ask me for my thoughts and comments on her effort and games.

I personally know of many parents who delayed their girls’ CCA for as long as they could so that their daughters could attend other academic classes instead. I’ve also had mums who asked me why we stuck to it even as the school work gets more and more demanding each year.

So, why did I agree to let her do it then and why do I still support her after so long?

In case you were to misunderstand, let me add that my daughter is not in any school team nor are we remotely praying over / working towards using Netball as a DSA. I agreed to it initially because of 1 thing: collaboration.

As Dumpling is an “only”, I was worried that she would not know how to “work” with others, learn to share and even handle conflicts. Hence that was what got me nodding. Along the way, this pursuit of a sport, taught her many great things: grit, commitment (she sets alarm clock for her training), discipline and teamwork. She’s played through sickness (high fever which we later found out where we pulled her out to rest up), injuries (skinned knees, sore ribs) and also in the rain.

There’s been moments where she was at a plateau and she did not seem to improve or “get it” with her ball drills / game strategies and it would leave her (and frankly me) frustrated. But what I came to love about her is that she always bounces back. My favourite moments “sharing” this sport with her (I used to play this game too) is of us attending the annual Mission Cup games (or for this year, the Asian Games) together where we’d shout ourselves hoarse during the games supporting our team and then discuss the brilliant moves across the court.

Dumpling started walking at 10+ months old where she’d skipped the crawling stage entirely. It was almost like she was too impatient to wait and she went right on to the walking stage. I am not sure if it is because of that but she can be the most uncoordinated person at times. With this game, she had to learn how to work around things she is not naturally strong in and she’s had to endure the muscle fatigue and aches, sprained fingers, skinned knees, bruises and at one game at AIS, a really sore nose.


Photo with her fav players over a span of 3 years


Her school has recently started a series of really long training on every Saturday morning (between 4 – 5 hours and us having to reach school at the ungodly hour of 710am!) as they are now in the midst of selecting the school team for the next year. So, I have been getting tired over the long hours of training and the mad rush of sending her for her violin and catechism classes thereafter. I was sharing with a fellow mum that at times I am not sure why I am still sending Dumpling in for such long training especially when I know we have tons of homework to clear the following day.  

But I have an answer now. 

Recently Dumpling had a friendly match playing against one of the clubs that she was training with previously. She met an ex-teammate where coincidentally, they were direct opponents. After the game, Dumpling shared with me excitedly that her ex-teammate commented, somewhat in surprise, that Dumpling has improved a lot in speed, etc. Needless to say, Dumpling was really happy and encouraged. 

So, that's why we are still supporting her after so long: it is simply to honor her love for this sport. This strange, unwavering love of more than 3 years. Importantly, it is also to recognise that grit and commitment, and celebrate progress. 


Giving a Hi-5 to one of our national players who stands at a whopping 196cm!!!

Of course Dumpling still has many areas to work on but I am very sure that I've yet to meet many 9+YOs who's this committed to something. It is that love for the game that drives her "never-say-die" attitude, even when she faces opponents that are bigger and taller, and at times faster than her. And I, I am proud to be a mom of such a tenacious and determined child. 


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