06 June 2007
You know, as you get older, you tend to want to talk more. To share with others, while you still have something worth listening to and while you still have the energy to verbalise your thoughts.
So a long post to come. If you have some time and are interested to read, pls go on.
How It All Started
It was Year 2000 in Adelaide, Australia. I was on a Student Exchange Programme at the University of Adelaide. Knowing Adelaide as the home of canoe polo, I wasted no time in getting myself acquainted with the locals and signing up in one of the local teams in their state league.
We played games in the Winter/Spring season in one of their indoor pools every Saturday. The season lasted for about 5 months. There were about 20 teams in all.
I noticed a group of players from different teams gathering in between their games for some discussion. But I didn't know what that was about.
Stumbling upon the Adelaide State Referee Course
After one of the games, one of the team managers told me a senior player was conducting a referee's course and asked if I was interested to join them. I said yes, why not? He told me they were in the lecture room at the other end of the pool. So I trooped over and found them about to end their last theory lesson. The conducting player, upon hearing my interest in the course, gave me a set of rules and told me to read it over the week. The theory test was next Saturday.
Throughout the week, I spent time reading the rules. This was my first time reading the rules though I have played polo for more than 2 years in Singapore already - the polo system in Singapore was not as established at that time.
I took the test that Saturday. It was a barrage of multiple choice questions, with each answer looking exactly like the other. By some stroke of luck, I passed the theory test.
So I went on to their practical sessions. These were conducted by two senior players. They were supposed to guide you throughout the practice games. But as it turned out, I had to survive most of those games by myself.
Several practical sessions and a few weeks later, I was told that I was a qualified Adelaide State Canoe Polo Referee. Which still is a big surprise up till today. I still have no idea how I did it.
Bringing Knowledge Back to Singapore
Year 2000 was the first time a Singaporean polo team travelled to Australia to take part in their Inter-Club games. Much credit goes to Jeremy, NUS captain at that time, for making that happen.
After the team got back to Singapore, we quickly got to sharing our new-found knowledge. The team re-organised its training methods and playing strategy. And Raymond Liow, as the only player who has some knowledge faintly acquainted with the rules, was tasked to help the team technically.
So I conducted the first rules course to NUS players in the old conference room in the Sports and Recreation Centre 2nd floor in Jan/Feb 2001.
First SCF Canoe Polo Rules Familiarisation Course
That same year, with the help of Chew Keat Yeow, we managed to get together a group of players from various organisations to attend the First Singapore Canoe Federation (SCF) Canoe Polo Rules Familiarisation Course. The system was still very raw and my knowledge of the rules was still very unpolished.
The pioneer group of referees were put to the test at the Nationals that year. Some of the names I can still recall include: Andrew Ng from TP, Jason Kho from NUS, De Pang from SP, Jack from NP. There were others but I can't recall, sorry... The Nationals were held at the then SMU Bt Timah Campus. For the first time as I knew it, there was some sense of law and order in a polo game in Singapore.