Emerge 2012 gave youth a glimpse of what it felt like to be physically-challenged, through sports competitions.
By Rachel TjahjadiSports take on a whole new meaning at City Harvest Church’s Emerge Youth Conference this year–an extra handicap is assigned to each player, literally.
In line with this year’s theme “Social Cause”, the five sports competitions in Emerge 2012 took on an element of physical disability, giving the players a chance to experience the disadvantage faced by the physically-challenged. The youth conference, birthed to inspire the younger generation of CHC, comprised various competitions categorized into “Body”, “Soul”, “Spirit”, and “Salt and Light”.
The competitive games, Silent Basketball, Blind Cross Fit and Fuzzy Frisbee competitions were held on Jul. 14, while the non-competitive Captain’s Ball on Wheels and Socialympic Relay will be held during the Emerge Weekend.
Lionel Choong, 23, the person-in-charge of Blind Cross Fit, said, “This competition raises awareness of how the blind in our society are actually very fit. Through this event, we hope to allow the participants to experience how it feels like to live a visually impaired-life while doing day-to-day actions such as carrying heavy things, and getting on the floor andup again fast.”
270 participants gathered at the basketball courts and field opposite Sengkang Sports and Recreation Centre on Saturday morning for the three sports events. While the day started with dark clouds overhead, the bad weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of these youths. Their enthusiasm ran high as they cheered for their teammates out in the rain. They were not going let anything rain on their parade, literally.
The participants of Silent Basketball experienced the disadvantage of speech-impairment in this game: not only were the players were not allowed to communicate with their teammates, even the referees had to use hand signs to make their calls. Instead of the usual loud, boisterous noise heard during the game, 32 teams played in total silence. As the players struggled to come up with better strategies to communicate, they experienced the obstacles faced by the speech-impaired in their day-to-day routines.
Those in the Fuzzy Frisbee game, on the other hand, put on fuzzy goggles and gathered into teams of 10 to compete in a game of Frisbee. While some players were more experienced than the others, all found it hard to play with blurred vision. When the game first started, players were struggling to throw the Frisbee to their fellow teammates at long distance, causing them to exclaim an exasperated “I can’t see!”. But the cheers from the crowd and encouragement from one another built their confidence and each of them slowly got into the momentum of the game.
One of the most physically demanding games in the competition, Blind Cross Fit required participants to complete different tasks at different stations blindfolded; including taking turns to carry one another across the field, and doing lunges as well as push-ups. Scores were accumulated by tabulating the scores awarded for each station.
While the participants looked extremely worn out after competing, it was obvious that they had fun and gained a lot from the experience of living through what the visually-handicapped go through every single day.
As the sports competitions drew to a close, it was evident that the obstacles and challenges each event presented fulfilled their purpose: each participant not only became more aware of the predicament of the physically-challenged, they were also empowered to help them and make a difference in our community.
One of the competitors, Anthony Lock, 18, said, “The silent basketball is just like a normal 3 on 3 basketball game, but during the game we aren’t allowed to talk. The difficulty was that we were unable to change our plans and strategies in the middle of the match as we could not communicate with one another. But what I learned from this whole experience is that the mute and deaf people have it really hard, especially when no one understands them. Hence we have to really make the effort to pay more attention and time when communicating with them.”
Andre Kamarudin, 24, a university student shared the same sentiments. “I learned that it requires a lot more effort for a mute person to communicate with us and it can get really frustrating if we are not paying full attention to them. In future, I’ll want to be more sensitive towards the disabled.”