Text by Lok Bing Hong and Lauren Chian
Photo by Eugene Goh
- NTU’s Inter-Hall Games are back after a two-year-long break during the Covid-19 pandemic
- Hockey will be postponed indefinitely due to location constraints, organisers said
- Sports secretaries and captains speak of the challenges they faced in organising this year’s IHG, as well as their hopes for the season.
NTU’s Inter-Hall Games (IHG) kicked off on Monday (Dec 12) for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, though organisers say all floor hockey matches have been postponed indefinitely amid a player shortage.
The sports competition, played between students representing their Halls of Residence, is scheduled to last until February 2023.
This marks the first time that IHG has launched in nearly three years, after the pandemic put a damper on in-person activities. The games were cancelled in 2020 and 2021, although Binjai, Tanjong and Banyan Halls ran their own internal competition last year.
But floor hockey teams will likely not get the chance to hit the courts this year, unless organisers can resolve location constraints and a shortage of athletes, IHG President Chin Yuhan, 21, of Hall 3 said in a Telegram message to sports secretaries on Dec 4.
Yuhan wrote that the National Institute of Education — which normally provides the facilities for floor hockey matches during IHG — could not offer hall teams a venue this year.
“For now all hockey matches will be postponed indefinitely, and if the venue is not open for use all the way till March, then hockey will be cancelled,” said Yuhan in the message, seen by Soapbox.
Even without the venue hiccup, many halls are simply not able to field enough players to form floor hockey teams, Yuhan told Soapbox.
“The number of participating sports from different halls have also depleted, and so we can really see that some halls are struggling to form a team, or are even unable to,” he said.
Hall 13 Sports Secretary Fiora Teng, 21, said her hall initially planned to get players from other sports to fill roles in its floor hockey team.
“Hockey is quite a niche sport as compared to more popular sports like soccer. It’s difficult to get people,” she said.
Hall 5 Sports Secretary Tubao Mary Chiariel Reosura, 20, said the primary challenge transitioning out of Covid-19 has been keeping up enthusiasm for the games, and that her hall also struggled with sign-ups for floor hockey.
“There are people who are more adventurous who will try all sports. Even then, for unfamiliar sports such as hockey, garnering interest remains tricky,” said Mary.
Some sports secretaries, whose main roles are to help organise the games, have revived the old practice of playing for their own halls to offset a lack of athletes.
Fiora and Hall 13’s other sports secretary, Jonathan Chen, 21, are the organisers for volleyball this year, but said they plan to represent their hall in other sports such as touch rugby and basketball.
“It was tough at first due to the lack of information. We also did not receive much guidance from our seniors as their IHGs were disrupted,” said Fiora.
For most halls, traditionally popular sports such as football, badminton, basketball, and volleyball saw sign-ups restored to far healthier levels, several sports secretaries told Soapbox.
Hall 8 Sports Secretary Ethan Tan, 21, a Year 1 student organising the sepak takraw games, said it was easier to put together a sepak takraw lineup because the sport only requires four players per side.
He hopes his team makes it to the quarter finals this year, after his hall did not make it past the preliminary rounds in 2019 — when IHG was last held.
Ethan added: “We aren’t that confident but we will go in trying with an open and positive mindset.”
Mary, the sports secretary for Hall 5, is optimistic about her hall’s football team.
“Their captains have a drive and passion, and I’ve really seen this team go through a lot together, training every week, organising friendly matches with other halls and forking out money to fund the activities as our hall isn’t funded as much as we need,” she said.
Crescent Hall Sports Secretary Daniel Irfand, 22, said his hall’s volleyball team has bonded closely in the lead-up to the games.
“We have night suppers and now we watch the World Cup together,” he said.
Ivan Siao, 21, Crescent Hall’s other sports secretary, said he was glad first-year students like him can finally experience IHG for themselves.
“Definitely feeling enthusiastic about IHG. I feel very blessed as a Year 1 student to experience the games in-person which my seniors like Daniel weren’t able to,” he said.
Still, IHG president Yuhan said there were concerns among some students that the competitive spirit between halls would dissipate after a two-year hiatus.
“You have two generations of seniors that did not have a huge competition with the other halls,” he said.
“Some have doubts because of key players leaving or not staying in the Hall. Others are still as confident as before that they will be victorious,” he added.