Derek’s Sports Achievements:
Bronze Medallist, SEA Games Rugby 7s, Vice-captain, 2015
Bronze Medallist, SEA Games Rugby 7s, 2007
Silver Medallist, ASEAN University Games Rugby 7s, Vice-Captain, 2012
Rugby Captain, Singapore Management University, 2013
1. How did you get started in rugby and how did you know rugby is the sport for you?
I was approached by the rugby teacher-in-charge to join the rugby team when I was primary 3. He saw me competing in the school meet where I had won the sprint races. He thought my speed could be utilized on the rugby field. Also, he always shared interesting stories about his rugby exploits during class and that peaked my interest, so I figured to give it a shot after clearing the idea with my parents.
I didn’t immediately know it was the sport for me. But I found it very enjoyable to participate in a team sport which involved a good combination of physical strength, spatial awareness and ball skills. Personally, I felt it was far more interesting than the repetitive nature of training on the track.
2. How did rugby make an impact on your life and why do you think it is important for kids to take up sports?
As clichéd as it sounds, rugby made me the man I am today – I owe a lot to this sport.
Representing my school at the various age groups levels had allowed me to qualify and continue my education in the ACS family from primary school all the way to junior college. Furthermore, my first representation at SEA Games 2007 gave me an edge to be accepted to Singapore Management University under a student life scheme that was targeted at rewarding students for holistic excellence rather than pure academics. This opportunity was a god-send that gave me a second chance to apply myself academically in university and since then I have never looked back.
There is also an intangible benefit of participating in a team sport. Over the years and countless gruelling training sessions together, the bonds I have forged with my teammates are unbreakable. Till this day, a vast majority of my best friends are known through rugby and other sports.
Not only does sports provide a healthy outlet for a child to develop oneself physically and mentally, it also provides a strong pillar of social support through friends, which is perhaps an aspect of sports that might be underrated.
3. Back in your athlete days, how was your training schedule like? How did you juggle sports with schoolwork?
Training became time consuming during my secondary school days. There were 4 to 5 training sessions a week – a combination of technical training on the field, physical conditioning through track work, gym sessions, and even mental training to focus our minds to cope with the stresses when the games are nearing.
It required discipline to manage my time wisely and this trained me to focus and immerse myself fully when working on a specific task. I think that setting specific goals, be it in academics or sports, is very important.
4. How can parents play a role in helping to support and encourage their kids in achieving their sports goals?
My parents were always supportive of my sporting exploits but never added additional pressure. When I was dropped from the first team, they always helped by lending a listening ear. I felt that their support and patience allowed me to recognise what I wanted to achieve in sports at my own pace. Once I knew what I wanted to achieve in sports, I took full ownership of my own journey and this allowed me to have a long sporting career relative to most of my peers.
5. Any secret advice for our aspiring young sports talents out there?
Finding excellence in sports is a journey. It requires a whole heap of hard work; perseverance when things aren’t going your way; and patience coupled with self-belief. Have faith in your abilities and back yourself! Things might not happen overnight but trust the process. One day, after months and years of hard work, something might just click and everything comes together in a beautiful symphony. Lastly, when you achieve success, remain humble – acknowledge everyone that has contributed to your success. If you let the victories inflate your ego, you will lose your edge and perhaps, more importantly, your friends.
Sports should enable you to become the best version of you. Good luck!
Thanks for the wise words, Derek. We wish you the very best in your future endeavors!