Your most memorable moment learning a new sport

Challenge 2015 May Your Say

What are you planning to do during the four-day National Day long weekend in Singapore?

Send us your stories at

The winning entry will receive an attractive prize worth up to $100. All other published entries will win vouchers worth $30 each. Please include your name, agency email address, agency and contact number.

All entries should reach us by May 27, 2015 .

Challenge 2015 May Your Say

Nirmala Narayanasamy,
I first started jogging in 2001 when I was 31 years old. I was an obese 110kg then, and having my period every day for more than a year. I was referred to KK Hospital and advised to start exercising and dieting. So I started jogging and walking. I would jog for five minutes and walk the rest of the hour. I slowly built my stamina till I could jog continuously for an hour. I lost 41kg in one and a half years! Now jogging is a part of my life and I do it at least three times a week. Even after a few weeks’ gap (e.g., going overseas for holidays, or when I am ill), I can still come back. My stamina is there all the time. I am glad I discovered jogging. It is the easiest, most convenient and free sport you can do any time to keep fit. I introduced my sister to it and now she is also addicted, and has lost 7kg. That’s my memorable moment – losing 41kg just by discovering jogging.

Congrats, Nirmala! We’re sending you two Halo Sport Visors for you and your sister. Keep on running!

Tay Boon Hee,
During my childhood kampong days, we were very poor. I had a very memorable time playing zero point with my neighbours. The only equipment used was rubber bands forming a long rubber rope. Each end of the rope would have one person holding it. The player would try to jump over the rubber rope, starting at the ground level and slowly going up to the knee level, waist level, shoulder level, ear level, head level, one palm above the head and then both palms. This game helped us learn about different body parts and communicating among our kampong boys and girls.

Clement Png,
I didn’t come from a well-to-do family, and in my early childhood, my dad always felt some guilt when he saw other parents treating their kids to a meal or enjoying sports activities as a family. One day, he told me, “Son, let’s try something new.” We went to the void deck, and he picked up a random water bottle from the ground. After emptying the water from it, he capped it and instructed me to remove my slippers, and so did he. Placing them approximately six feet apart, we had now marked our own goalpost. We began playing soccer with that empty bottle. Excitement overwhelmed me. I had never experienced this much joy kicking something. I didn’t even know then that a ball was used for this sport. I really thought that people everywhere used empty bottles just like we did.

Annie Tan,
The most memorable moment I had when I first picked up scuba diving was definitely meeting my husband there. He was the young handsome trainee instructor who was strict, didn’t smile and had no room for nonsense. It was definitely important to understand the dangers as we were going to be in a totally new environment under the sea. But once we cleared our open water test, he was completely different. Picking up a new sport and getting to know my husband definitely made learning a lot sweeter!

Marc Teoh,
Bowling used to be a meaningless sport for me. To a large extent, there’s no opponent, just the bowler against 10 stationary pins. How fun can it be? It didn’t help that in my first few throws the ball went into the gutter, which re-affirmed my belief that I was throwing money down the drain. Then a more accomplished friend took over. Initially I was amused by his preparation: airing his hand, wiping down his own bowling ball with great discipline, and maintaining poise and feet movement with great consistency. Were all these necessary? Then the moment came. The ball left his hand and rolled towards the gutter before “miraculously” hooking back and smashing all 10 pins with aplomb. I was amazed. Wasn’t the ball destined for the gutter? Was there a remote control? Soon I was enthusiastically seeking advice, doing research and purchasing my own personal bowling equipment. Before long, I was able to understand the mechanics of bowling, and deliver the occasional “remotely controlled” strikes with my buddies.

Huang Xiaoman,


That’s my teammates and me, during our very first dragon boat training session at Kallang Basin in March 2005 with the MNDragons, a dragon boat club representing the Ministry of National Development (MND). About 15 of us from the AVA, BCA, HDB, NParks, MND HQ and URA had formed a team representing MND and started our first dragon boat training. Most of us had never touched a paddle before, but we rowed the boat back to shore, faces beaming with excitement and joy. I remember that in that very first session, we had to come together no matter what happened, if we wanted the boat to move. I understood then that the key to moving the boat fast is synchronisation and teamwork, rather than relying on any individual’s brawn. That training allowed us to meet new friends and interact with people from different agencies in the MND family. It was a successful and memorable experience that promoted team building between all of us.

Sylvia Wang,
I’d always thought that tennis was an elegant sport and decided to pick it up in secondary school. That was when I discovered that playing racket sports is not for everybody. A lot of hand-eye coordination and good judgement on where to place the ball in your opponent’s court determines the winner of the game. Many times, my racket hit the ball a moment too fast or too slow, and I would watch in despair as the ball flew out of the court or hit the net flatly. My tennis coach used to comment that I was like a professor – spending too much time measuring the wind speed, so much so that I forgot to swing my racket at the precise moment. I’m glad to say that I still like the sport, but probably more as a spectator. Tennis is no longer just a sport, it is a collection of memories that I’ve grown very fond of.

Abdul Rahman Salim,
I picked up paintball as a sport in mid 2012. A colleague at my previous workplace, who is a competitive paintballer, heard that I had had a taste of paintball and introduced me to competitive paintball. A couple of other colleagues were recruited and trained to be competitive players too. In 2013, we participated in our first Singapore Paintball Series, competing against 16 other teams from Singapore and Southeast Asia. Despite being the underdog, with no sponsor, team jersey or gear, and having only beginner equipment, our team, SG Frontiers, beat all the odds to emerge runners-up. The medal that we earned was my first-ever medal in a competitive sport. Paintball has been part of my life since then and I have been growing my interest in the sport.

Seah Choon Sheng,


When I was in primary one, my parents enrolled me in swimming class. I was afraid of being in water. Still, I was enthusiastic about the lessons because I believed that the coach would recognise my anxiety and patiently lead me through the practice progressively so that I could overcome my trepidation. However, when the lesson started, the coach bellowed at everybody to jump into the water and start swimming. I was terrified, but being an obedient child, I jumped in. All my friends seemed to know how to swim. It was clear that I needed help as I thrashed violently in the water to stay afloat, gulping mouthfuls of water in the process. This experience made me even more fearful of swimming and resulted in me persuading my parents to let me quit the class. This memorable moment in learning taught me to watch out for my students who might be struggling to keep up. I make it a point to provide them with additional time and care so that they can catch up with their peers. I constantly remind my students that I am available if they have any problems. Yes, I am proud to have become a teacher!

Ng Yi Wen,
Water polo is a dirty game. It didn't take me long to realise this in my first tournament, back in 2006 when there were only three junior colleges that had a girls’ water polo team. My teammates and I had never played water polo but wanted a change from just doing laps up and down the pool. So with a couple of last-minute practice sessions... we felt good enough to take on the other teams. Everyone else was an amateur after all, right? But I don’t think any amount of practice could have prepared us for what was to come.

As if threading water non-stop for four eight-minute quarters (with an adrenaline-pumping sprint down the pool every 15 seconds) was not enough, there were all these 50+ kg blood-sucking leeches to worry about, who would not only grab with a vice-like grip any part of your body that dared to get near them, but would also desperately try to drown you at the same time. I felt like I spent a lot more energy gasping for air than trying to get the ball into the goal. These girls were vicious and we responded the only way we knew how – fighting fire with fire.

We pulled suits (inadvertently exposing certain assets), twisted arms, elbowed, pinched – you name it, we did it. The referee had a field day blasting her whistle, dishing out “counter fouls” and “exclusions” like hot cakes to this wrestling bunch of inexperienced players. And then, finally, I broke free! With one unforgiving kick under the water, I retrieved the ball, threw my arm forward like a whip and scored. For each and every hard-fought goal, the feeling is just indescribable.

After the game, completely exhausted but still in high spirits from a sense of achievement, each of us compared our battle scars: long red trails running down our arms, chest and back, a couple of purple bruises, and someone had a torn suit. I was rather put off by the dirty play, but something about the experience stuck with me and made me continue playing till today. Perhaps it was the strong camaraderie among teammates, or the feeling of being tough enough to play such a demanding sport. Most of all I think it was the realisation that playing rough and playing dirty was not the same thing, and that there is a lot more individual skill and team strategy behind a really good water polo game.

    May 2, 2015
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