They are more accustomed to playing rugby for a living.
So four key members of the Qantas Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens Team – Nick Malouf, James Stannard, Charlie Taylor and Henry Hutchinson – were in for a bit of a cultural shock yesterday, when they were each presented with a colourful weighted shuttlecock – and were then tasked to keep it in the air for as long as possible with their feet.
They were about to play a game of chapteh.
Despite the searing heat that afternoon, intense laughter rang out through the air, as the players tested out the shuttlecock, and playfully egged one another on, when the shuttlecock flew all over the place, sometimes even coming close to hitting some of the photographers in the face!
Unique sporting cultural exchange session with SportsCares youths
Yes, the rugby players were being introduced to the local game of chapteh. And this was because the players had been participants in a unique sporting cultural exchange session with 13 local youth from the SportsCares Foundation, at The Float @ Marina Bay.
Earlier, the four players had been introducing the basics of rugby to a group of 14 – 19 year old youths, sharing ball passing techniques, demonstrating how to form a scrum and explaining what a line-out was in rugby. The kids absorbed everything from the rugby players, eager to learn and improve. And afterwards they had the chance to teach the Australians how to play chapteh.
Dinie Irfan, a 19 year old from SportsCares Xerox United Football Team, had been one of the youths who had taken part in the session. He said, “I had a wonderful time today. I play a lot of football and so I am used to running around a big pitch like this, but it’s very different with rugby as you have to use your hands as well as your feet and there is restriction in terms of where you can pass the ball. It’s always great to learn something new when it’s to do with sport; thank you Qantas and SportsCares for organising this.”
Players Learn Chapteh
Said Malouf, 24, who plays Forward position, “I en joyed chapteh! It’s actually very similar to a game that we used to play in Australia when I was young, where we had a little ball with beans inside and we had to keep kicking it up as it could not touch the ground. The feeling of the shuttlecock was quite different but the idea is still the same.”
As well, Malouf also added that he had enjoyed the cultural exchange session, adding that some of the kids were naturals at rugby. He said, “They are very good! We probably did some kicking and passing there and I have to say that a lot of them are natural. Both the girls and the boys were keen to try out rugby and I think there could be a few stars for Singapore amongst them.”
Hutchinson, 20, who plays Back Row, also shared his team mates sentiments, adding, “It was really enjoyable. The four of us came down here not knowing what to expect and the kids really put on a show and taught us some tricks of their own local game. There’s also a few natural athletes out there – some pretty quick kids, some good hand-eye skills. With a little more training, they can definitely be forces to be reckoned with on the rugby pitch.”
Taking a break with ice cream
And also, during one of the breaks from the heat, the four players had also playfully tried their hand at serving the local-style wafer ice cream, thanks to Uncle Chiang, the traditional ice cream wafer uncle at the event – who had graciously offered to let the players take over his ice cream cart for a brief moment.
More laughter rang through the air, as the ice cream uncle had complimented the players on how well they had been doing, and at the same time, had eagerly posed for photos together with the rugby stars. Some of them had even joked about the players learning how to sell local ice cream – as being a life skill for once they retire from their rugby careers!
Of course not surprisingly, the players were allowed to eat their own creations afterwards!
Session hosted by Qantas
The cultural exchange session, which had been hosted by Qantas, had then ended with the SportsCares youths eagerly crowding around the players, clamouring to get their autographs on the rugby balls that had been given out to them as souvenirs.
Said Benjamin Tan, Senior Vice President for Qantas, Asia and Papua New Guinea, “Qantas is a long time proud supporter of Australian Rugby and of Singapore – one of our first international destinations. We are delighted to be working with SportsCares today, which gave our Rugby Sevens players the chance to share their love and passion for the game, and also learn about chapteh from such a motivated group of young Singaporeans.”
SportsCares is pleased by the event
SportsCares is also pleased by how the event had turned out. Said Ken Kim Por, Director of the SportsCares Foundation, “The session today was an invaluable experience for our SportsCares youth to learn not just about rugby from the very best professional athletes in the world, but life values such as teamwork and integrity that are largely associated with the sport.”
Continued Ken, “It was also great for the youth to take on the leadership role to teach these athletes a thing or two about our local culture, through the sport of chapteh, which they can take back home to Australia.”