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A Dragon’s Tale
Posted date: 05-Oct-2015

Hear from Gordon, captain of our U Sports Dragon Boat team as he shares with us his journey with U Sports thus far:


Gordon (standing) leading the team during training.


Has physical activity always been part of your life since young?

Gordon: Yes, since young I am quite interested in physical activities. I joined canoe and canoe polo in my Poly years. I also gym regularly, at least 2 to 3 times a week.


Tell us how you got into dragon boating specifically.

Gordon: I joined the dragonboat team after completing my full time national service when I was 20. I was looking for a sport to join and a friend of mine referred me to a Dragon Boat team under NTUC, it used to be called Young NTUC Dragon Boat team. After trying out for a few sessions, I (found that I) enjoyed the team effort of this sport much more as compared to canoeing – where it can be quite lonely most of the time as we would be rowing alone. Dragon Boat is more interactive as we have to ensure the strokes are in sync and people are constantly encouraging each other.


When did you join nEbO and U Sports and how have they helped your passion in dragon boating?

Gordon: I joined NTUC after I ORD from national service. The Young NTUC Dragon Boat team then merged with U Sports approximately 2 years later, and that bring us to today where I’m with the team under U Sports. U Sports has been very supportive of us. Knowing the importance of team unity, U Sports gave us ample opportunities to have team bonding events. Also, a number of us joined Dragon Boat with a competitive mindset, U Sports has been very supportive in bringing us to races and also providing simple refreshments during trainings and competitions to make sure we are well covered and encourage everyone to work hard.


What activities do you do now with your team? What activities do you spearhead for nEbO and U Sports as well?

Gordon: U Sports Dragon Boat team used to only have competitive rowers and training used to be once a week only. Now, we have raised our level of competitiveness by training on Saturdays and Sundays for the competitive rowers. On top of that, we have land training every Wednesday evening to build up the physical fitness of the paddlers, and we will then proceed to the swimming pool to do Pool Paddling that gives the paddlers a better avenue to correct and perfect their rowing techniques. Because of the setting of the swimming pool, paddlers can help each other to spot the mistakes and its easier to guide and correct the individuals compared to when on the boat.


On top of that, U Sports Dragon Boat team stays committed to the vision of the U Sports – which is to engage people through sports. Thus, besides catering to the competitive rowers, we also open our doors to train another group of leisure/new paddlers, some with no knowledge of this sports prior to joining us and do not know where they can start to pick up learning dragonboat. The team is glad to bring this group in for training every Saturday to learn the basics of rowing. Eventually, if they choose to paddle competitively, they could move over to the competitive training.


The team spearheaded activities for nEbO through the setting up their own dragonboat team. The group of committee from U Sports Dragon Boat team agreed to share our knowledge with them and to advise them accordingly on how to set up their Dragon Boat team and their own Dragon Boat committee. Some of the nEbO paddlers also trained with us to understand how the training works before the formation of nEbO Dragon Boat team, so that they could lead and bring nEbO Dragon Boat team to greater heights.


Gordon giving the rowers a team debrief.


Tell us about your experiences with the U CHAMPs Programme, how you entered, what you learned in terms of leadership and member bonding?

Gordon: U CHAMPs programme is a initiative by U Sports to develop the potential leaders in the respective sports team to enhance their skills on leadership and communication to their team. The U CHAMPs programme that I went had a mix of other U Sports leaders from other sports group such as, running,cycling and floorball and etc. It was brought up to us that this programme would be a good platform to enhance our leadership skills and also how to better communicate with the whole team and network with other sports group to understand how they operate and if there are any differences from us. The group of committee members from the team who went for the course found it very helpful, especially the part where the trainer of the course taught us how to be clear and precise of instructions to the team, and be aware of our tone and body languages and how different tones can turn something positive to negative. We applied what we learnt after the programme to the team as it is very relevant to us.


Share with us the NTUC Challenge which happened on the 12th July 2015 and your experience of being UWEEI’s sole trainer?

Gordon: NTUC challenge 2015 was indeed a challenge to me. We have actually planned for UWEEI to come down for 1 session of tryout 3 weeks before their race but due to wet weather, we were unable to proceed. Also due to othe commitments the paddlers from UWEEI had, I was only able to teach them the basics of rowing and do some simple air paddling 3 hrs before their race. It was indeed something very new for me as normally I would train my paddlers in the boat, but due to circumstances, we had to do it on land that day. However, I would say I am quite pleasantly surprised with them. Even though most of the UWEEI paddlers were very new in this sport and that some even touched the Dragon Boat paddle for the 1st time in their life just 3 hrs before their race, they were rather synchronised throughout the whole race.

It was very heartening to see the whole team shouting the timing together throughout the whole race and that even when overtaken by the rest, they still tried their very best to keep in sync and paddle hard until they crossed the finishing line. I believed everyone from UWEEI felt great the moment they crossed the line as they cheered and gave their teammate a pat on the back, to acknowledge each other’s effort. This scene actually serves to many as a gentle reminder that sportsmanship and team cohesiveness can sometimes bring more joy than coming in 1st in races.


What’s next for Gordon?

Gordon: I am planning to upgrade myself by going for the upcoming Dragon Boat coaching course, as so to become a full fledged coach. That way I can continue to serve U Sports in a different way such as training up new people to enjoy this sport. It would be a pity that I would not be able to paddle as much as before, but I believe that it would be so much more meaningful for me to help bring up the level of the team, like how other seniors before me sacrificed their own rowing time just to guide me back then. This is the only way that the team and the sport can continue to live on.


If you would like to find out how you can join the U Sports Dragon Boat interest group, drop us an email at You can also see more about the team’s activities through their Facebook page.