Inter-school sports games not about ‘losing face’, say organisers

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Issue 508, Page 2
Word count: 1000
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

An inter-school sports league in Taipa is looking at expanding its member base in order to give more local children the chance to enjoy competing in friendly matches and also to foster their personal development.

Founded in February 2007 by The International School of Macao (TIS) and Sheng Kung Hui Primary School (now called Macau Anglican Collage or MAC), the Taipa Sports League has recruited nearly 400 students from both schools to take part in internal matches including table tennis, soccer, cricket, tennis and badminton.

The Macau Daily Times talked in an exclusive interview to TIS Vice Principal, Howard Stribbell and MAC Principal, David Brown who shared their visions and thoughts about the League’s future.

“It’s been a great success,” Mr Brown said, “it’s so successful that we want to include all the schools.”

“We want the children to have fun and enjoy competing against different children in a friendly way,” he added.

Mr Stribbell agreed. “It has been surprising though about how beneficial it’s been for two schools to get to know each other,” the Vice-Principal said.

Mr Brown recognised that TIS and MAC are basically “competitors” when looking at their language of instruction, but he said they have a “broader view than that”.

“We’re friends in a good way. Students just get together and have a lot of fun. It comes right from the top really,” the Principal said.

“Ok, there is a competition but in a friendly way, it’s not cut throat,” he added.

Matches are sometimes followed by a barbecue which gives both schools more chances to communicate with each other.

“We would chat about problems and then realise TIS has the same problems that we’ve got. It’s nice in terms of development for both schools,” Mr Brown said.

In order to stand out the importance of participation, the schools developed a banner instead of coming up with a final trophy at the end of the season and students who have participated in any of the games are required to sign it.

“It’s an acknowledgement that everybody enjoyed the games. It also gives the children motivation and good feelings about what they’ve done,” the MAC Principal said.

“We want children to achieve things that are tangible,” he added.

Mr Stribbell also said that the banner is a “memory” or “keepsake” that reminds children of their participation.

Since the establishment of the League, TIS and MAC students have been the core players, while Fong Chong and Sam Yuk Primary School also “play a bit” recently and the Portuguese School has expressed interest in joining.

“We want to be a model of friendly participation or cooperation, not about who gets to be the city champions,” Mr Stribbell said.

Despite the League appears to be beneficial for both teachers and students, the founders have been finding it “quite hard” to recruit more schools to join.

“TIS and ourselves are having more western base and philosophy. Our attitude to sports is not only about competing but we see a bigger picture which is the friendship perform the personal development of children. It’s not about losing face,” Mr Brown said.

“We have much emphasis on the social aspect, we want children to learn from each other and respect each other,” he added. 

However, the TIS Vice Principal pointed out that they are not “trying to compete” with the sports plan of the education department which actually encouraged them to “go ahead” when the project was first started.

“We’re just trying to offer a complement to it and something different. The schools can do both. It’s not one or the other,” Mr Stribbell said.

Meredith Vega and Liam Alexander, both 13 years old from MAC, are two of the active soccer and badminton players in the Sports League.

They said they enjoy being part of the team as they can “meet new kids” from TIS or other schools.

“We talked to each other before we played and we enjoyed playing against them. It was challenging but also really fun,” Meredith said.

Not only do the children want to stay in the League, their families are supportive too.

“My mum really wanted to come see me play but because of work she couldn’t go. She was asking me so much about it and I told her I really had fun,” Meredith said.

Liam, whose father works at MAC, said: “sometimes my dad plays for the school and coaches soccer. So mostly he will come to the games and it’s really fun having him there.”

On the other hand, Meredith said her mother never said to her that she was worried about her being distracted from study.

“There was one time I was missing sailing because of badminton and so she was worried about me missing this for doing that. She just told me to pick one that I really wanted to do,” she said.

At MAC the League is part of the extracurricular program and practice or training will always depend on teachers’ volunteers.

Bruce Canterbury, an English teacher at MAC who also takes up soccer, cricket and badminton coaching, said training focused on tactics will usually be given when there is a match approaching, while during non competition period students will concentrate on practising basic skills.

“We can never do any of these without all the teachers volunteering their times with the students,” Mr Stribbell said.

The next inter-school cricket games between team TIS and team MAC will be staged on November 7 and November 14 at TIS on the campus of Macau University of Science and Technology.

As well, a staff cricket match, which is followed by a barbecue, is scheduled to be held on December 5.

According to the Principal, the majority of the students at MAC are local children mainly from Macanese background, whilst another 20 percent are Portuguese.

As for TIS, Mr Stribbell said 40 percent of their students are from Macau, Hong Kong and China, and the rest are mainly from expatriate families representing 40 other countries.

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