“What if the tables were turned?”

I borrowed this title from Joan’s Facebook post. Joan’s a visually impaired athlete and the top scorer for the women’s national Goalball team. She was reflecting on a 1 v 3 modified Goalball game where she competed and won against three sighted athletes. This happened just before the circuit breaker.

She was pondering about who would be considered “disabled” should the tables be turned – in a context where the sighted athletes had to operate in a “blind” environment instead. You can read about her thoughts and watch the game here. While you are at it, do send her a friend request!

“Is disability a result of one’s condition, or the result of the physical and social environment?”

I thought that Joan’s sharing connected really strongly with the Social Model of Disability and there is an important message here to be shared with my fellow coaches and the public.

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The Problem with “Motivation”

‘Control your Controllables’ (CYC) is a resilience program facilitated by the blind and experienced through the Paralympic game of Goalball. Earlier this week, my team conducted the program for a group of junior college students who did not manage to progress on to Year 2.

During the session, the students were asked to reflect on possible barriers that could stop them from putting in the necessary effort to pass their exams. Many of them alluded to some version of the same problem – the lack of motivation.

Does the problem really lie with the lack of motivation?

I asked the students if they were disappointed that they did not pass their exams, and why they wanted to progress on to Year 2. Indeed, these may seem like redundant questions but I was trying to get them to understand that they do not lack strong reasons nor motivation to strive for better results.

“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.” Steven Pressfield

The problem here isn’t about the lack of motivation. The problem lies with the ability to direct their motivation towards the goal of passing their exams. The problem has to do with procrastination, specifically, they were motivated to do something else rather than to study.

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Goalball Exchange with World Youth Champions from Australia

Australian Brodie Smith In Action

Thanks to the Singapore Disability Sport Council (SDSC), we had the opportunity to have a world champ coach and team help us improve our game recently (11th to 13th of Feb).

Over the short span of three days, Coach Murray and his team have helped me see potential in the team beyond what I could imagine. This was clearly demonstrated by our women team’s progress between the two friendly games on the first and last day of the program.

“Having a mentor coach is perhaps one of the most powerful way for a coach to develop and improve.”

In Goalball, the game is ended as soon as one team wins by a ten goal margin. The SG women’s team lost 0-10 even before the first half on the first day. On the last day, our team lost 1-10, but managed to hold the Australian team up to the end of regulation time.

This was no easy feat for a Southeast Asian team, especially since the last time the women had a chance to compete in a friendly game was in 2016 (drew 10-10) against Malaysia, and they were up against a very disciplined team that recently beat Russia to win the world youth championship  (view link).

Key Takeaways from the Exchange Program  

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