Sunday, September 28, 2008

The badminton dilemma

As you know, Andre is going for weekly badminton coaching organised by his school. He really loves the sport and his aim is to get into the school team next year, which looked like a clear possibility as he's progressing well.

But you know Murphy's Law, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. When I fetched him to his coaching session last Thursday, I received the bombshell from the coach that the school badminton team is likely to be scrapped next year due to budget constraints. The badminton CCA would still exist but there would be no coach, which to me was just plain silly. What, the kids would just meet up weekly and randomly whack at shuttlecocks?

Since there might be kids reading this, I'll resort to visual swearing - #$!%@!!%#^@!!! That's truly how I felt when I heard the news. It just throws a spanner in the works. You may wonder why since it's only a CCA, right? Well, since Andre is enjoying badminton so much and playing the game reasonably well, we had hoped the school might be able to train him up to a respectable level where he can play in competitions and eventually use it for DSA.

For those who don't know what DSA is, it's Direct School Admission - a scheme that some secondary schools offer to p6 students. That means the secondary school would conduct selection tests and offer direct admission to students before the PSLE results are out. The criteria can be academic or non-academic, depending on the individual school and its needs.

Of course ideally, we hope Andre will be able to get into a secondary school of his choice without relying on a CCA, but no harm preparing for Plan B, right? I admit it sounds a little kia-su since Andre is only in p2, but it's not like we had mapped a path for him right from the start. It was only since his interest in badminton emerged that we thought we might as well nurture it to serve a double purpose.

When I broke the news to Andre that there would be no school team next year, he was so disappointed. He looked like he was about to cry and shouted, "But I've been trying so hard!"

So now, we're at a crossroads. The coach, who is from one of the major badminton academies in Singapore, recommends that we continue coaching sessions at the academy from next year if Andre is serious about the game. Kenneth and I are two minds about it.

  • At the academy, it's serious training. The coaches are past winners from professional tournaments like the Thomas Cup. No kidding. Andre's game will definitely improve exponentially.
  • The academy holds their own competitions so he can still participate, experience playing in matches and hone his skills.
  • For DSA sports, the secondary schools usually hold their own trials and look at individual records, so if Andre does well at the academy, it will carry weight.
  • School budgets change every year, so for all we know, the school team might be reinstated the following year, giving Andre a second chance to be selected.
  • Less tangible benefit but equally important - we feel that kids who are actively involved in a sport tend to befriend those with the same interest, and their activities and conversations are likely to centre around this common interest. Especially in the teenage years when kids are the most impressionable (especially boys, in my opinion), I think it helps to keep them on the straight and narrow path. This view was reinforced by the coach who has groomed cohorts of kids in the sport.


  • The time commitment is tremendous. According to the coach, we're talking 2-3 two-hour sessions of training a week, in order for skills to reach a certain level of proficiency. Especially with Andre's school workload set to rise at the higher primary levels, we're not sure if he can cope with the extra demands without compromising his academic standards.
  • Even if he can cope, there's no guarantee he will ever reach a level good enough for DSA, in which case, is it worth investing all the time and effort for something that will just be a hobby?
  • Not just time commitment from Andre, it's time commitment from me too! Guess who'll be the one who has to shuttle him to and fro training sessions? It's sometimes already a massive juggling act trying to fit my meetings and work in between ferrying kids, especially during peak periods like annual report season.
Looks like there's definitely more pros than cons, but the downside is a BIG one. We haven't quite decided what to do. If you have any views, I'd love to hear them.


Lilian said...

If my child shows promise, AND has proven to be dedicated and committed, wow, I will definitely do my best to let him go as far as he can.

Bringing DSA into the equation will just confuse matters, don't think about that first. And about homework, somehow kids who put in hours in sports learn to work more efficiently and finish their work in double-quick time.

I wish I had such a decision to make...*envy*envy*...

monlim said...

I think you're right abt the DSA confusing the issue. Since we started thinking abt DSA, we've let it become a major factor in our decisions which shdn't be the case. Thanks for giving me clarity on this.

We'll talk to Andre more thoroughly and see how he feels abt it, whether he's willing to put in the training hours. Not so sure abt the part where u say kids in sports finish work more efficiently though... a little nervous abt him in this respect!

bACk in GERMANY said...

I don't think the coach invited everyone to join the academy. So Andre must have shown pretty impressive potential.

It's not just sports. it's also building a passion for a particular sports for the rest of his life. This could be a good thing if he rises to the challenge, i.e. time management between school work and training.

Andre might just have the right amount of determination to excel. I can't help but think about the post where you said you tried to discourage him from learning to play the piano, lest he gave up half way. Obviously a true interest cannot be dissuaded and his recent achievement has proven that he will excel when he gives his best. Lay out the pros and cons as you did here before him and let him make his decision?

monlim said...

Wise words indeed, Cindy! Yes, I agree ultimately the decision has to be Andre's as he will be the one who has to make the commitment. We still have end of the year to decide, will see what he wants to do then.

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