Enjoy the long awaited Episode 4 recalling UV’s many ‘adventures’ during his career as a teacher!

EPISODE 4 – TEACHING IN AND AROUND IPOH

Teaching is not essentially academic in nature.  It involves an overall development of the child.  A teacher is not only expected to teach subjects offered by the school but also to train the child to adapt to society.  This can be achieved in many ways, from being a personal example to being involved in training them in games and guiding them in activities related to clubs and societies formed within the school.

In MGS Ipoh, the excellence in ensuring students giving their “Utmost to the Highest” is ensured by not only maintaining a high standard of academic achievements but also to excel in games and other social activities.  In this episode, I would particularly like to highlight sports and games.

It is most common for men teachers in all girls’ schools to be assigned to training the students in games.  The late Mr. Teh Chin Seong was assigned not only as the Sports Secretary (a job without extra pay but lots of extra work) but also to other activities like being a coach in the various games the school was involved in.

I was not exception.  The very first year I started work in MGS Ipoh, I was assigned as the softball coach.  Softball was not a game that many schools in Ipoh were involved in.  There were actually only three schools initially taking part in competitions in 1968.  They were St. Michaels, Anderson and MGS Ipoh.  Those were the schools participating in the girls’ competition.  Later, more schools joined in.  St. Michaels and Anderson had girls teams because they were Sixth Forms schools with girls.

That year, MGS Ipoh was to chair the Competition Committee of Softball for the Central District of the Perak Schools Sports Council.  This was before the new system of Malaysian Schools Sports Council was established.  Then Perak was divided into 3 Zones, Northern, Central and Southern.  It was the responsibility of the school to organize competitions for the Central Zone.  Unlike now, Principals of chairing schools were not the chairpersons.  The teachers of the games were!  Thus it was that I, as a greenhorn chaired the competition committee of Softball for Central Perak that year.

It was a simple task as there were only three girls team and two boys teams involved.  What a game to be involved in to learn the ropes.  That year, Saint Michaels came out champions.  I wonder how many of those players of the three teams are still around Ipoh today.  I would love to hear their comments.  MGS Ipoh’s team was thrashed that year.  That made me very determined to improve the team’s performance the following year and intensive training took place.

In the years that followed, softball team of MGS Ipoh became strong and it was not uncommon for us to beat teams with scores like 10 – 0, 20 – 0 and even once 70 -0.  This happened because many new school teams started entering the competition, among them being Raja Perumpuan Ipoh, Menglembu Secondary School, Perak Girls School and a few lesser known schools like Sri Intan and Sri Puteri.  SMI and Anderson continued but their girls’ teams could no longer dominate the game.  In the early seventies, MGS Ipoh’s softball team was the strongest in the state.  However, strong opposition started coming from Nan Hwa Sitiawan and eventually Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh.  The latter would eventually be a school that dominated softball in the 80s, 90s and even today.

The Perak State Softball Association was formed and it encouraged the game among school children.  However, many schools could not adopt this game because of the high cost of equipment.  I became the secretary of the Association for some years and since the Pengarah of Education Perak was automatically the Vice-President, it wasn’t easy to serve in the Association when you are a teacher.  However, being a Maverick, I considered him as an ordinary person with the official post and not my boss!  A few times I did cross swords with him on Association matters and many within the Education Department thought I would be hung out to dray for crossing him.  However, he was a true gentleman and leader and never let outside activities cloud his professional judgement!

Eventually I qualified as a State Softball Umpire and also a National Softball Umpire and did my duties in various games  conducted all over the country.  My involvement in Softball saw me being appointed as the Kinta District Softball Technical Chairperson, the State Coach for the Softball School boys and girls team and being involved in the organisation of various softball competitions in the State.

When I was in Sam Tet, I assisted the school coach in training the boys too.  This school team was the strongest in the State of Perak for a long time.  However, when I was promoted as a Principal I was sent out of Kinta District to Kuala Kangsar District and I stopped my softall activities.  I hung up my mittens, gloves, bat and mask for good.  However, the years of demonstrations of softball skills to players caused me to suffer from wearing out of both my hip joints and knee joints.  Recently, I had a bilateral hip-joint replacement and need to go for knee joints replacement soon.

The role teachers play in promoting sports is vital to the nation.  It is a pity that so few teachers take this role seriously and learn to be good at doing this task.  Through the years, with neglect by school teachers who are not fully qualified in the games they are assigned to and the lack of interest in this task has resulted in the deterioration of the standard of sports in Malaysia.  Teachers, lay the foundation for sportspeople of the nation and if the foundation is weak, everything after that would be flimsy!