Little John stands tall
Growing in confidence, the Unity Secondary student is lighting up schools basketball
Standing at 1.62 metres, John Christopher has always been conscious of his lack of height.
But that hasn't stopped him from wanting to follow in the footsteps of his idol - Stephen Curry of the NBA's Golden State Warriors.
When he joined Unity Secondary School in 2012, he already made the starting five for the C Division team that finished third in the National Schools basketball championships.
With John as a shooting guard, Unity went on to claim the C Division title the following year.
This year, John and his teammates proved themselves in the B Division, storming to the title to enhance Unity's reputation as basketball powerhouses.
Speaking to The New Paper, John, who will turn 15 in July, recalled how he overcame the odds when he first joined the school.
"When I first got in the school team in Secondary One, all the other players said I wasn't good enough because I was so short. They told me I could never make it," he said.
"It really hurt, but I just kept telling myself to prove everyone wrong."
John's coach, Steve Goh, 32, saw that what the youngster lacked in height, he made up for with determination.
Said Goh: "In the B Division, the boys are much bigger than him, so John tends to get blocked easily.
"But he's such a positive figure in the team, it's almost infectious.
"He never gives up. He puts in the hours to train after school just to improve his game."
Thng Yong-An, 15, has watched his teammate grow into his role over the past three years.
Said Yong-An: "We've played together since Sec One and we have a great connection when we play. It's like we're twins.
"He can really play better than some of the taller boys. And he's always a positive person, and it spreads to the rest of the team, myself included.
"It's like we all get our spirits lifted when he's on the court, and we couldn't have won without him."
John was the star when Unity Secondary beat Dunman Secondary School 67-65 to lift the B Division crown at Jurong East Sports Hall.
The diminutive Filipino scored 25 points, including a crucial three-pointer in the dying seconds of the final to lead his team to victory, and his heroics also earned him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
John's performances on court have done wonders for his self-confidence.
He said: "I think I've proven what I can do to everyone who's doubted me, so my height doesn't bother me as much now. I'm still conscious of how short I am, because all my friends are at least 1.7 metres tall.
"Playing basketball has definitely improved my self-confidence a lot.
"But I'll learn to get over being short some day. Hopefully, I haven't stopped growing."
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