By REDintern Tang Rei-En. With additional reporting by Grace Chia
Bedok North Street 2, Saturday, 30 June 2012 — Aaron Philips looks like an unlikely sepak takraw player.
The tall 16-year-old Eurasian stood half a head taller than his teammates but he stood out not just because of his height, but also because the sport of sepak takraw is traditionally a Malay sport.
“I’ve been playing sepak takraw for about four years,” said Aaron.
His team, Nee Soon Central CSC A, had just lost 0-2 (2-15, 7-15) to Nee Soon Central CSC B. It was their first match in the Community Games sepak takraw tournament.
Asked about what it was like as a minority playing this sport, Aaron answered: “It has been a very interesting experience so far.” His nonchalant tone indicated that he was not very bothered by such an issue.
“I could already speak Malay before I started playing,” he added, after turning aside to reply to one of his teammate’s questions in fluent Malay.
“I started playing sepak takraw because of orientation in Secondary 1. We had to choose our CCA and we went from station to station to try out different sports. The teacher-in-charge selected me because I was able to juggle the ball,” said Aaron.
Playing along side Aaron in the team was Daryl Lim, 16, the only Chinese player in the hall that day.
“Sepak takraw is really interesting and fun but the main reason to why I join this sport is because I realized that there are very few Chinese players playing sepak takraw,” said Daryl.
“The Community Games not only allows me to gain more experience, moreover, I get to make more friends and know more people with the same interest,” added Daryl.
Aaron is in Yishun Secondary School’s sepak takraw team. They had placed second in the North Zone, and eventually went all the way to finish as national champions. He described this experience as “very exciting and challenging”.
Before sepak takraw, Aaron used to play soccer.
“But I prefer sepak takraw. It’s less tiring because we run about less, and we don’t need to play under the hot sun,” he explained.
“Sepak takraw is also very interesting because of the different roles that each person plays. For example, the striker gets to fly in the air to attack.”
Aaron plays the role of the ‘tekong’.
“I serve the ball in, to gain points for the team,” said Aaron.
Despite their loss, Aaron remains upbeat about their prospects in the tournament, and hopes that his team will get into the top two to qualify for the Singapore National Games.
“Our toughest opponent is Nee Soon East CSC. I know most of the players and some of them are my school mates,” said Aaron.
The third member of Nee Soon Central A was Mohd Safiuddin Bin Roslan, 16, a Yishun Secondary schoolmate of Aaron and Daryl.
“I’ve played sepak takraw since Primary 4,” said Safiuddin, whose twin brother Saifuddin, was playing on the opposite side.
“In Secondary 1, I quit soccer. Sepak takraw is a fun game because it has no body contact,” said Safiuddin, whose three older brothers also play the game. “I grew up playing sepak takraw at Block 144, Yishun Ring Road.”
The sport of sepak takraw has drawn the three of them together despite their ethnic differences.
“They are Singaporeans and it’s about the game,” said Safiuddin.
Nee Soon Central A Lineup
Daryl Lim (#7), Mohd Safiuddin Bin Roslan (#5), Aaron Philip (#4)
Nee Soon Central B Lineup
Muhd Alif Bin Abdul Rahman (#16), Muhd Adam Bin Badul Rahman (#13), Mohd Saifuddin Bin Roslan (#3), Justin Poh Jing Heng (#8)
For more photos, go to the next page.