Friday, 13 April 2018

St Andrew's Secondary hockey players lose match but win admiration for sportsmanship

St Andrew's Secondary hockey team requests umpire not to count a goal, earning opponents' respect for fair play
By Natalie Choy Ching Mun, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2018

The St Andrew's Secondary hockey team lost a match and a potential medal, but won widespread respect following an act of sportsmanship.

During the Schools National B Division boys' bronze-medal play-off on March 29, the score was tied at 1-1 in the third quarter of the game when Northland Secondary's Muhammad Raihan Adris went down with a sprained ankle.

After a time-out, the umpire blew the whistle to resume play. The Saints defenders threw the ball to the other side of the pitch for their opponents to start, but a miscommunication saw one of their forwards taking the ball and scoring a goal, giving them a 2-1 lead.

The Saints then requested that the umpire overturn the goal when they realised the ball should have been in Northland's possession and their opponents were not ready.

The score reverted to 1-1 and remained unchanged until the end of regulation, resulting in a penalty shoot-out which Northland went on to win 4-3, taking the bronze.

"It wasn't the right thing to do, to let the goal be counted, because it wasn't fair. We scored even though it was supposed to be their ball," captain and centre-back Sean See, who made the decision, told The Straits Times.

"It was too sudden. They (Northland) were caught off guard, they weren't ready. So I asked the umpire not to count the goal," added the Secondary 4 student, who said that his teammates supported his decision.

The Saints may not have won the match, but their act of sportsmanship earned them the respect of their opponents, who clapped and thanked them for playing fair.

The boys also won praise from umpire Miskarmalia Mohd Ariffin, who said she had "never seen anything like this" in her 12 years of umpiring.

"I was honestly very impressed by the boys. It shows that they have been really brought up well, by their parents, teachers and coaches," she said.

"After the game, the St Andrew's boys were obviously disappointed, but they kept their heads up, and even came to shake our hands and thank us for the game. The sportsmanship they showed was really heartwarming."

St Andrew's head of physical education and co-curricular activities Aaron Kong said: "Winning is definitely a bonus, but the boys should win with grace and through proper methods.

"I am really proud of Sean and the rest of the team for making that decision in such a big moment."

The act was also hailed by Northland's vice-principal Daniel Yip, who said: "When the St Andrew's team requested to revert the score to 1-1, our team really appreciated their act of graciousness and sportsmanship. At the end of the game, my captain, Yap Jharen Glen, went to thank the St Andrew's team."

The match was realistically the last chance for Sean and some of his teammates to earn a schools medal for St Andrew's, but he is not upset by the loss.

"It is my last year, it is my last B Division game. But I am happy we did the right thing and (finishing the season in the) top four is good enough," he said.

The Saints' act is one of some recent acts of sportsmanship displayed by young athletes in the school sports scene.

In 2016, Raffles Institution's (RI) striker Jonathan Chua earned praise for rejecting a penalty in the A Division boys' football quarter-final round-robin match against Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

Jonathan had been awarded a penalty but told the referee it was a mistake. The referee changed her decision, and RI, who had trailed 2-1 at that point, went on to lose 3-1.


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