Here in Singapore, the sport of rugby is alive and well especially in the junior ranks.
But this is arguably, only known to those who follow the sport. Though the number of tournaments may be healthy; the numbers when it comes to junior rugby clubs based locally is still far from being significant. So when we heard about Vikings Junior Rugby, we just had to scrum down and catch up with Mark Lee, one of the club’s founders, for a quickfire feed in Q & A sesh.
“Vikings was chosen because the values of being adventurous, fearless and tenacious.”
– Mark Lee, founder Vikings Junior Rugby.
What led to the setting up of Vikings Junior Rugby?
“It was an opportunity I saw in the Singapore sports industry and past experiences. My partner Wee Lee (who is involved with multi sports for young kids) and myself saw this potential. We have managed to assemble a fantastic team of coaches led by National Captain, Gaspar Tan. I’m proud to say our guys and girls have a pedigree of both playing and coaching experience over the years. They have at least represented Singapore at age group level internationally and they see Vikings Junior Rugby as an avenue to give back to the sport they love.”
“Fact is – there are limited options for junior teams sports in Singapore aside from Football and Basketball. Friends I knew outside the rugby circle never had the opportunity to play rugby and always had the misconception that you can only play rugby in a school that offers rugby. There is very limited (only a handful of) junior clubs across the country so this an opportunity to take up the sport at a young age.“
On the subject of “misconception” – What, in your experience, are the common misconceptions that parents (may) have when it comes to junior rugby?
“Injuries and muddy clothes! As with injuries, Safety is the most important thing when it comes to Rugby. Education is key that the child will learn how to fall, take contact and tackles. In terms of being prepared to take contact, we can dare say that Rugby is more prepared than any other team sport. As for muddy clothes, that’s another thing altogether! Haha!”
Mark is also a Judoka so he’s no stranger to contact sports. But is it healthy or necessary even, that kids get involved in contact sports?
“Well contact sports aside from physical side of things, trains you mentally to face physical challenges. Learning how to get knocked back and getting back up again is already a challenge to some who has never faced that.”
“Through coaching and encouragement from peers, coming back from setbacks like this set you for life mentally. Being able to face stronger opposition and thinking the best way to overcome it. Imagine transferring that into the classroom or workplace?”
“In terms of being healthy, the human body is a fantastic piece of work. It adapts fast and you’ll be surprised through consistent training that the body changes rapidly. Through good nutrition and proper training, I’ve seen some kids I coached over the years develop into physical specimens. Carrying this onto National Service and almost always doing well in basic military training.”
So what can Vikings Junior Rugby bring to the field?
“Our immediate goal is to get more participants so that we can participate consistently in future tournaments locally and overseas. In terms of sustainability, we will like to see more volunteerism from the parents, supporters to feed into to the club eco system with various roles – be it management, organize logistics, taking photos, assisting in the coaching for the future and maybe even learn to play. Everyone counts to make the sport sustainable and not just a handful of passionate people. As for the player pathway, we start from a young age of 3 all the way to Under 17. We do hope to see our trainees progress to senior club rugby and maybe even donning National Colours!”
The ball is out and here’s an opportunity to go blindside with your shoutouts!
“I would like to thank the team management and coaches for making an exciting experience thus far. The parents who have been a total treat, waking up their kids early, learning some rugby 101, playing touch and ever enthusiastically taking photos during our sessions!“
Rugby is not only a sport. It builds character and discipline, among others. The rivalry on field often evolves into beautiful long-lasting friendships off it and the stories shared, if not always serves as inspiration. So get involved and let your kids play!
Photos: Vikings Junior Rugby