The Crocodile Challenge Cup is seen as the elite platform in Singapore in which Primary School paddlers can compete and develop their skills (photo credit: VOXSPORTS for SportSG).
By Cassandra M Tan
Singapore Table Tennis Association's (STTA) aim of nurturing more home-grown talents appear to be taking shape, judging by the level of performance from many of the competing primary school players at the Crocodile Challenge Cup 2013.
As table tennis gains popularity in Singapore, the sight of young paddlers competing in competitions has become increasingly common.
Ranging from the age of 7 to 12-years old, primary school children competed at the Crocodile Cup Challenge Finals held at Velocity over the past week, and demonstrated skills that wowed many of those in attendance.
Through the Crocodile Cup Challenge, young athletes were pushed to face pressure from a large audience. Even with many pairs of eyes on them, they were able to remain calm and focused.
What started out as just a scattered few of people turning up to watch the Finals soon transformed into a large crowd of spectators watching from all over the shopping mall.
Chia Yoo Soon, a parent of one of the participating Primary School paddlers, was quick to praise the event as he found it to be beneficial for his son, who eventually won a medal.
The competition heats up as the older athletes fight for a spot in the national team to compete at the prestigious 2013 ITTF World Hopes Week (photo credit: VOXSPORTS).
“I believe it is very good because it gives (the young athletes) the exposure to compete,” he said, “It teaches them discipline, sportsmanship, and a lot of good values that they need for growing up.”
In order to compete on the world stage, the young paddlers have to learn how to lose graciously, even when the stakes are high.
Competing to represent Singapore in the prestigious 2013 ITTF World Hopes Week the following week in Austria, the older athletes in the eleven to twelve-years-old category had only one chance to prove themselves worthy to be a representative in the last match of the day.
It was a tough match for both the boys and girls, but there could only be one winner. It was a moment of humility learnt as the losers stepped aside to allow their opponents to receive the medal.
Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, was Guest-of-Honour at the event (photo credit: VOXSPORTS for SportSG).
Largely stereotyped as a Chinese-playing sport, winner and representative of the ITTF, Pearlyn Koh Kai Xin, came out with an interesting and quirky analogy to disagree, “Pandas from China are good, but pandas from other countries are equally good. Table tennis is not just a Chinese sport.”
As the proud parents of the young athletes swarmed around the prize-giving ceremony armed with their cameras, parent Chua Yat Seng believed in the idea of nurturing talents from a young age.
“This sport is very competitive, so it’s very important to start learning the basic skills at this stage so that they can compete with the rest of the world.”
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