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NUS students support SportCares through Waves of Hope Swimathon

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Waves of Hope Swimathon pre event carnival

Students from the NUS Rotaract Club and the SportCares folks posing for a group picture at the Waves of Hope swimathon pre-event carnival. (Photo by NUS)

Just over a year ago, SportCares was approached by an earnest group of students from the NUS Rotaract Club who were organising a swimathon called Waves of Hope. While we aren’t permitted to donate cash to fundraisers, we supplied our towels and pins for the event goodie bags. The students said they would adopt SportCares as their social cause in 2014.

Quite frankly, being the often cynical adults that we are, we didn’t expect to hear from the university students, again.

We could not have been more wrong.

Not only did the committee keep their word and adopt SportCares as their social cause, they have brought an extraordinary degree of professionalism to the Waves of Hope planning and a genuine interest in learning more about the youth in our Saturday Night Lights programme.

In Vision 2030, Sport Singapore’s new masterplan for sport, the report talked about youth developing their values and capabilities and becoming “Future Ready Through Sport”. By any measure, the NUS students exemplify the Vision 2030 promise to help people Live Better Through Sport. We hope that you will support the NUS Waves of Hope swimathon on 6 September at Yio Chu Kang Swimming Centre. They're looking for 600 swimmers to swim a total of 8000 laps. 

Two weeks ago, the team hosted a mini games carnival at Jurong Stadium for about 80 of the boys from Saturday Night Lights—and the kids had a blast. “I don’t want to feel like [NUS Waves of Hope] is just about raising funds," said Ariel Gwee, the head of the committee. "So we decided to combine the SNL training with the carnival games we plan on organising on the day of the Swimathon. It’s not just for the boys; it’s also for my team as well.” 

Waves of Hope Swimathon pre event carnival

The boys from Saturday Night Lights having a blast at the mini games carnival at Jurong Stadium. (Photo by NUS)

Spending some time with the SNL boys before their regular training session proved illuminating for the university students. “I’m clearer about what SportCares is doing and it’ll help when I convey this information to the public,” Ariel said. “I think this event will help craft our message, let our swimmers know what they are swimming for, and how the funds will be used. I want to tell the public that there are different communities to be helped, not just the sick or the elderly.”

Waves of Hope Swimathon pre event carnival

The SNL boys got to try something else besides football at the mini games carnival. (Photo by NUS)

SportCares mission is to use of sport as a force for social good through personal empowerment, social inclusion and community bridging, all of which were on full display for the Waves of Hope team the previous Saturday. Their selection of SportCares was an unorthodox one, given our short existence and the absence of widespread awareness of what we stand for and how we deliver programming to empower youth.

That’s why it was all the more important for the Waves of Hope team to engage the boys from Saturday Night Lights. Several university students braved a friendly football game with the SNL boys. Although the combined teams of SNL boys and NUS students were a little stiff around each other initially, as the game progressed most of the tension decreased visibly, the ice broken with shouts of ‘good save’ or ‘good shot’ between players. 

Waves of Hope Swimathon pre event carnival

Several university students took on the SNL boys in a friendly football game. (Photo by NUS)

“They’re really bonded among themselves,” committee member Brandon Chai said.” I think SportCares is a platform for them to interact with one another and we’re glad to have been part of that for a day.”

One of the carnival games – a ‘Titanic’ game – involved both players taking turns to place marbles of different sizes on a bottle cap lid floating in a basin of water, a game that saw the SNL boys take turns against the NUS student cum game master. The boys, who had been broken into smaller teams, crowded around the small desk egging each other on, playfully questioning their friends’ moves (“You sure or not?”) and trying – albeit unsuccessfully – to charm the female game master (“Give chance, leh”).

In a deceptively difficult game that required the boys to throw lightweight plastic balls at cans filled with water, the bravado and competitive spirit between teammates made even the most stoic game masters smile.

A confident footballer, Sean was surprised to miss his first three shots at the pyramid of cans. His teammates burst into laughter. “Come on, lah!” they exclaim. Only Sean’s last two shots connect with the cans and knock them off the table. Sean shrugs good-naturedly and issues a challenge to his teammates. “Now, you try.”

The more they played, the more the boundaries came down. “Everyone participated and I’m really happy,” Ariel said. “After a while, we got to know some of the boys better and it’s pretty easy to talk to them.”

“Today has shown how sport has the potential to unite people for a common cause,” Brandon added. “That’s what Waves of Hope is about – using sport as a platform for a greater cause.”

Waves of Hope Swimathon pre event carnival

(Photo by NUS)

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