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Returning player leads S’pore Sports School to win

With foreign-based Chow Yong Jun pulling the strings, Singapore Sports School (SSP) hoisted their maiden National School Games (NSG) B Division water polo title with a 9-5 win over Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) in the final on April 17.

The 14-year-old, having joined Serbian club Valis Valjevo’s youth water polo squad on a two-year stint since January, returned to Singapore on a one-month break to prepare for his weighted assessment at SSP.

He took part in just one training session with SSP, but that was enough as the youngster’s experience proved to be pivotal in the final at Our Tampines Hub.

Yong Jun, who also scored a goal, was pleased with the win, adding: “We have a lot of synergy, the chemistry was good.”

SSP captain Matthias Goh hailed his teammate’s performance: “His presence was 100 per cent felt in the team, even though he came back two days ago... having jet lag, he still played very well.”

Mathias, 15, was no slouch himself as he scored seven of SSP’s nine goals, with five coming in the first two quarters. SSP’s Rhys Vaswani also got onto the scoresheet with a goal.

SSP coach Rio Shirahama said the team, who had increased their training intensity from five times a week to eight or nine times, benefitted from Yong Jun’s passing and control.

“I think that this game is the best they have played in the NSG, especially in the first two quarters. We used a new tactic that we have practised for the last week,” said the 25-year-old.

Even Yong Jun’s presence rattled their opponents, with ACS Barker coach Kuah Kar Huat admitting his players were nervous before the final.

He said: “There’s always pressure in playing in a final. I think with Sports School having a player coming back from Serbia, it created some mental distractions because we have not played against him on the way to the final.”

The 56-year-old also feels that they let their opponents “run away” with the game after conceding six goals in 14 minutes.

He added: “We were a little bit too safe and a little bit cautious in the first two quarters and we took a while to recover from that.

“The second half was a much better performance from my boys... (but SSP) did better than us and we did not deserve to win today.”

ACS Barker captain Chan Jon-Wy felt that the team “lost their composure” in the first half, saying: “We got a bit pressurised and that’s what caused us to slip and they widened the score.”

In the earlier third-place play-off, 2023 champions Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) thrashed Raffles Institution 14-0.

This year is the first since 2015 – barring the pandemic years when the NSG were put on hold – in which ACS (I) did not qualify for the final.

water poloSchool SportsTampinesSINGAPORE SPORTSANGLO-CHINESE SCHOOLRaffles Institution