FEATURES

10 April 2019

Sportswomen in the Force

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Sportswomen in the Force

By Hadi Hafidz


1950s marked the turning point for Singaporean female athletes when we had our first female Olympian, Tang Pui Wah, who participated in the 1952 Summer Olympics. Fast forward to more than 60 years later, female athletes now make up a large group of those involved in competitions such as the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. Amongst them are our very own Singapore Police Force (SPF) female officers who have been balancing their work commitments to keep our nation safe and secure while contributing to Singapore’s sporting achievements.


In celebration of 70 years of women in policing, Police Life caught up with our National Sportswomen, Senior Staff Sergeant (SSSgt) Yusmahwati and Sergeant (Sgt) Nur Atiqah to find out more about their sporting journeys.

 

Learning the Ropes

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SSSgt Yusmahwati (first from the back), the anchor of her tug of war team. (Photo: SSSgt Yusmahwati)

SSSgt Yusmahwati knew little about tug of war prior to her signing on with the SPF 16 years ago. Never would she have expected that a brief attempt at the sport would eventually lead her to the world championships. She was first exposed to the fundamentals of tug of war during a try-out session for the SPF’s inter-division competition back when she was in Ang Mo Kio Division. Although it was immensely tiring and painful pulling the rope, SSSgt Yusmahwati thoroughly enjoyed herself.

“Tug of war is not only a game of strength but it is also a tactical battle which requires strong teamwork to execute the plan. We could be either immediately pulling backwards together at the start of the match or collectively digging our heels and hold on while waiting for our opponent to lose their strength before we begin pulling. The camaraderie which we forged is the reason why I love the sport,”
explained SSSgt Yusmahwati, who currently serves in Woodlands Division.

The positive experience during the try-out session motivated her to train hard and her efforts paid off as she was eventually selected to be part of the team. After pulling their hearts out in the gruelling day’s competition, SSSgt Yusmahwati and her team ultimately won the gold medal!

“At that point of time of winning the gold medal, I did not foresee a greater goal just yet. I was just extremely happy that my hard work paid off,”
shared SSSgt Yusmahwati

Pulling Out All Stops

SSSgt Yusmahwati continued training with the team and won several more gold medals from the following years’ inter-division competitions. With every gold medal won, SSSgt Yusmahwati became more serious about competing in larger-scale competitions. In 2014, SSSgt Yusmahwati, along with other pullers from Ang Mo Kio Division, attended try-out sessions for the Tug of War Association Singapore, a Tug of War Club formed in 2012 to compete in the Tug of War International Federation (TWIF) Indoor World Championships.

After sacrificing her day off, training extremely hard, she finally received the selection results. “When I was told that I had been chosen to be part of the Tug of War Association of Singapore, I was over the moon as I knew then that I would be able to compete against pullers from all over the world,” exclaimed SSSgt Yusmahwati. Although her team did not emerge victorious in the competition, SSSgt Yusmahwati was glad to have gained exposure at the international level.

In 2018, upon hearing that there were plans to form a national tug of war team to enter the upcoming TWIF Indoor World Championships, SSSgt Yusmahwati did not hesitate to go for the tryouts. Together with a team of experienced Singaporean pullers, SSSgt Yusmahwati was not only selected to be part of the team, but her dedication, ability and leadership skills led to her being chosen as the team captain.

For months leading up to the competition, SSSgt Yusmahwati’s off days were dedicated to intense physical exercises such as pulling a tyre attached to a rope for 30 metres, with a heavier teammate seated on it. However, nothing was as challenging as the dieting process.

“I remember that during our journey to Nanjing, we were only allowed to take a few sips of water as we needed to adhere to the weight limit which was taken only the day before the competition,”
shared SSSgt Yusmahwati.

After all that was said and done, the national team finished the competition in 7th position. SSSgt Yusmahwati and her team were proud of the result, considering that it was the national team’s first international competition together.


Passion Ignited with a Goal

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Sgt Atiqah (at the foreground in red attire) attempting to regain possession of the ball from her opponent (Photo: SportSG)

Sgt Atiqah was nine years old when her teachers first encouraged her to take up a sport as her Co Curricular Activities (CCA) in school after seeing her win the gold medal during her school sports day 100-metre race. After trying out several sports, Sgt Atiqah realised that her interest was in hockey after a practice match amongst newcomers.

“I remember freeing myself from the opposition’s defence and having the ball passed to me. I looked up and noticed that it was only the goalkeeper that was standing between me and the goalpost. I gave my hardest swing and scored a goal! I will never forget the joy when the ball hit the net. Since then, I constantly trained with the school team to improve my skills,”
shared Sgt Atiqah who currently serves in Woodlands Division.

Her hard work paid off when she was selected to not only represent her school, but also the youth national team. As a result of that, she gained experience and improved her abilities from playing in various competitions with these teams, which ultimately landed her the opportunity to be part of the national team. However, just when all seemed to go according to plan, her progress came to a sudden halt in 2016 when a ligament injury suffered during training forced her to withdraw from the World Series League 1, a competition that was merely two weeks away.

Giving All They Had

Nonetheless, Sgt Atiqah kept her chin up. Upon recovery from her injury, she trained extremely hard and was eventually included in the national team that participated in the 29th SEA Games in 2017. The experience, however, left her with bittersweet memories. Having won their first match in the group stages, hopes were high and after subsequent matches, the team only needed a draw in the last group match to qualify for the finals. However, the team lost the match and only managed to secure a spot for the bronze medal match instead.

“After dusting off our disappointments, we shifted our focus towards the bronze medal match. During the match, we constantly pressured our opponents when they had the ball and when we regained possession, we attacked their defence with all we had. Although completely gassed out by the end of the match, we threw our hands up in celebration knowing that we thoroughly deserved our win,”
exclaimed Sgt Atiqah.

With the Hockey Series Finals looming close, Sgt Atiqah shares that she mostly trains on her off-days to prepare for it. Although balancing work and training is extremely challenging, she explains that the support and understanding from her family, colleagues and the national team, is something that keeps her going in spite of her hectic schedule.

Finally, Sgt Atiqah gave her advice for those who are interested in taking up the sport. “No sport is easy to learn and no one is born with athletic skills or knowledge. It comes back to the person’s desire and passion, especially when you have to manage both work and training. The beginning is always the hardest. At the end of the day, when you look back – you will realise that it was all worth it.”

We would like to wish our national athletes all the best for their future competitions, and thank them for their hard work with the SPF to help keep Singapore safe and secure!

Did You Know?

The SPF is also home to several former national athletes. Let’s take a look at some of them and their achievements!

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Insp Stella Tay (first from the right) with her dragonboat teammates. (Photo: Insp Stella Tay)

Inspector Stella Tay Xinyin, former dragon boater

• Police Security Command officer
• Competed in SEA Games 2011

“We exert an enormous amount of force every time we push the paddle into the water. It is physically exhausting, but doing so actually builds our resilience which helps me to endure the physical and mental rigours of my policing duties.”

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Sgt Noelle running in one of her 400-metre track events. (Photo: Singapore Athletic Association Officials)

Sergeant Noelle Lee, former track runner

• Community Policing Unit officer, Bukit Merah West Neighbourhood Police Centre
• Bronze Medallist for 4x400m at Taiwan Open Athletics Championship 2015

“As track runners, we constantly aim to improve our timings. However, we are only able to achieve that by staying completely focussed during training. I think that developing such focus helps me in carrying out my policing duties effectively.

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Insp Azhmeera (second from the left) challenging for the ball. (Photo: Insp Azhmeera)

Inspector Azhmeera Shasha Jan, former footballer

• Investigations officer, Jurong Division
• Competed in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations University Games in 2012

“Soccer is more than just a sport. It builds character and, more importantly, has made me a better team player which is critical for our policing work.”

 

Last Updated on 10 April 2019