Home > News and Publications > Archive > DEC19 > Japan Hones Skills In Sport, Life

Japan Hones Skills In Sport, Life

Overseas Training Camp To Japan

Overseas exposure is crucial in the sport development of athletes. The experience gained from sparring with and training alongside international players exposes athletes to different styles of play and strategy, and increases their ability to adapt to different scenarios during competitions. Singapore Sports School student-athletes have the opportunity to travel for overseas training camps and competitions to learn from their foreign counterparts and up their game. During the year-end holidays, student-athletes from the Football and Swimming academies not only benefited sport-wise, but also from the positive work ethic and attitude displayed by the Japanese.

The Football Academy’s exchange with Omiya Ardija FC is a result of a partnership, first sealed in 2015, which allows footballers from both academies opportunities for sparring and mutual learning.

Football: Omiya Ardija Training Camp
By Muhammad Hilman Norhisam
Football, Secondary 3

Singapore Sports School sent 16 football players to train with our partner club Omiya Ardija FC in Saitama, Japan, from 1 to 7 December 2019. It was the first time training in a cold climate for many of us, as it was transitioning into winter in Saitama. However, the warm welcome from a Japanese coach upon our arrival at our hotel late on the evening of 1 December broke the cold in the foreign land we were in. Not forgetting the parkas lent to us by the Omiya team to keep our bodies warm in as the temperatures dipped to as low as 5 degrees Celsius during our stay in Japan.

Training in the cold was a unique experience. Although our arms and legs were stiff from the cold, we tried to focus on training. As the days passed, we slowly learnt tricks to keep our muscles supple and ready for the next drill.

I found the environment very conducive for learning. Coaches and players from Japanese Under 13 and 14 teams we were training with were very approachable, giving us tips and advice to help us execute a move and how to do it better.

The Japanese players’ respect towards their peers and coaches was also noticeable and something we can learn. Not only were they kind and friendly towards my teammates and I, they showed full attentiveness when speaking to their coaches, maintaining eye contact and standing with their hands behind their backs.

Towards the end of our one-week stint, we played two matches against Omiya’s U14 and Fukaya FC’s U15 teams. Both provided us good exposure in playing at a much higher intensity than our usual and taught us many lessons. In our game against Omiya, we struggled with the cold and was unable to gain much possession of the ball for most of the match. However, we persevered, stepped up our game and played our hearts out to win the game 3-2. Our next game against Fukaya was also a tough one that ended in a 0-2 loss, but we gained much more in experience.

Swimming: Aichi Training Camp
By Crystal Leong Jing Ping (Secondary 3) with contributions by Janel Susantra and Quentin Tan Guan Ting (Secondary 2)

The team of 22 swimmers arrived in Aichi, Japan, on 20 November 2019, full of anticipation for the nine-day training camp that was about to begin. It wasn’t the first time for many of us, but we were just as excited to reconnect with our Japanese friends from Toyokawa High School, train alongside them and soak in the disciplined culture that our counterparts embody.

The wintry weather is not something we are accustomed to, so training in the cold climate (sub-10 degrees Celsius) coupled with the tougher training sets has been challenging. The pool would fog up as we warmed up and breathing became more difficult due to the stuffy air. Yet, training with the Japanese and seeing how focused they are in completing their sets made us more determined to give our best.

Tough training sets were not an excuse for our Japanese counterparts to compromise on discipline and responsibility. Before each session, they would remove a large canvas sheet covering the pool which reduces heat from escaping from the water during cold weather, and replacing the canvas after training. This shows their ownership of the facility they train in, instead of relying on their coaches or staff to do so.

After two days and four hard training sessions, we had a day of rest before training continued till we returned on 28 November. During our recreation day, we learnt a bit about Aichi’s history and culture through activities and a short tour. We visited the Toyokawa Inari (Myogonji Temple) – one of the three biggest shrines in Japan – which was founded in 1441 by a Buddhist monk. It was interesting to learn that there are more than 1,000 fox statues in the shrine. Foxes are believed to be sacred messengers to the people living in this area.

We also had the chance to learn Kendo, a traditional Japanese martial art, which revealed values and qualities that are unique to their culture. It was not all theory lessons as we had a turn in holding the wooden swords and executing some basic striking techniques. When attacking, we had to shout “YAAA... MEN”, striking the sword vertically downwards. (“Men” is one of the five strikes in kendo. It is a long slashing stroke that falls on the centre-line of the head.) Shouting, which is used to express the fighting spirit, a quality essential in all sportsmen and served as a good reminder that we should always persevere and remain resilient.