By Louisa Goh
Armed with a basic understanding of photojournalism, I officially joined the RED Crew in May 2014. I was warmly welcomed by the crew right from the start into this close-knit team of incredibly humble people willing to share their knowledge and resources.
To me, Red Sports is a place willing to give you a chance if you are willing to do your best. Uncle Les was interested in who I was as a person when he first met me, and less so the level of my technical skills – and I greatly appreciate that. Otherwise, I would still be paralysed with fear at the thought of trying out a new area of photography.
I still remember my first assignments were on A Division floorball at Republic Polytechnic (RP), complete with horrid lighting and swift ball movement. I spent weeks cringing at the photos that came out, but was able to turn to the crew for advice. The list ran from the best spot to sit at (outer right corner), what I should anticipate during a typical game, to the best place to find food (RP canteens are cheap and good).
And they gave me lots of good old encouragement to keep going. Yong Teck even dug up his old work to point out that he also started out with difficulties, and that there would be improvement with time and consistent effort.
Yes, it was difficult, and it still is because each assignment throws up new challenges. And it was terrifying when I went out to write my first story. But the RED crew prioritises good effort, good work, and having fun while out on the job – good principles to work by.
The people we cover
Loud whispers of “Red Sports!” were frequently overheard in May and June, when I spent the most time shooting – and later writing about – various school sports. One of the freshest faces with the crew, I was utterly foreign to, and yet warmly welcomed by many of the student athletes I met.
In all my interaction with athletes, I have always been treated well and often taken aback by just how courteous they are even when they have lost a game.
And I get this overwhelming feeling of appreciation whenever the crew goes down to cover games. No need for fancy writing and crystal sharp photos, these student athletes are simply happy that people care about what they do.
From C Division to A Division, I see that these are people who have put their hearts into their sport, even when they receive no recognition for it. Often, wider acknowledgement of student athletes comes only when they have attained the top award for their age category, and thousands of others are left unmentioned each year.
Ericia Chen, top scorer of Yishun Junior College floorball, could not finish playing in the finals due to an injury. Ryan Tan of Peirce Secondary basketball kept stealing and driving balls across the court when his team lagged behind. Jolene Ng of Saint Theresa’s Convent has a mean defence and tries so hard to score for her team.
Very few others will know of what they have done if no one cared to cover their game. I may not understand why they chose to do sports, but their stories matter.
In this short few months:
I have come to understand that there is a limit to what mainstream media can cover, and it is up to everyone else to step in. Page space is limited, manpower is limited, readership is – unfortunately – also limited and demanding. Redsports.sg is a happy medium for school sports in Singapore with volunteers who adhere to news values and write accurately.
My greatest takeaway is learning how to write expressively, yet concisely, and process photos under pressure. Your assignment is now, your deadline is tonight. And when I went out to cover games on my own, it was exhilarating to push out stories.
The experience is different from school assignments because you are out and about, watching the game, talking to athletes, and rapidly planning rough outlines on the bus ride home. I had to learn how to speak to younger athletes, concerned teachers and referees – all of which I had difficulties with before.
If you are a non-athlete just like me with little knowledge of sports, but willing to learn – this is a great place to start. Not just for sports journalism, but also for writing and photography. It feels intimidating and overwhelming at first (like trying to identify players), but it gets much easier to handle all the incoming information.
I watched about 30 floorball games before I dared to start writing, but Uncle Les and the crew were really supportive of my attempts. Any questions? There are at least five of the crew with an answer, and willing to guide.
If anything, I want to remember to remain humble and freely share my knowledge in the same way the crew did for me when I struggled the most. Redsports gave me more than I could give in my work, with free-flowing advice and support for my exploration of sports journalism even when it was completely foreign to me.
Work hard, learn much, and enjoy the process – you will not regret joining the RED crew.
Want to join Red Crew? Find out more at: Red Sports Internship
Louisa Goh is an undergraduate at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at the Nanyang Technological University.