SportsSg / SportsCares x Jungle - An Intern Experience
The Jungle MMA is honoured to collaborate with Sport SG | SportCares for the past week. We had youth and children visiting our gym in groups of 8, each group going through an hour long of Muay Thai lesson. These youth and children are from the less privileged and the Jungle is gratified to be given this opportunity, being involved in this meaningful project led by SportCares. As it was the March school holiday week, SportCares got in touch with a few organisations to provide the less privileged young athletes with other sport classes, apart from the sports they were doing. Jungle became one of the organisations connected as the SportCares intern in-charge of the project is none other than my current course mate.
After reasonable negotiations were made, the Jungle boss gave a thumbs-up to this collaboration and planning was carried out regarding the possible timings in which the youth groups could drop by. There were 6 groups of male youth, 1 group of female youth and 1 group of children.
As a learning process, I was privileged to be given the chance to lead the youth classes ( of course, under the watchful eye of Coach Alex and Coach Henry!) As the youth were complete beginners to Muay Thai, it was easy to formulate the skeleton of how each class could be run. As a member of Jungle, you will probably be familiar that the warm-up is often skipping. However, we all know how difficult it is to skip with the thick rope especially on the first attempt. Getting the correct beat, correct skipping technique is definitely not achievable within a short period of 2 minutes or so. Hence, I decided to lead them through an easier warm-up, where I inculpated the usual warm-up exercises such as light jogging, high knees and butt kicks that any other sports would be exposed to.
The very first class I took was on a Monday. It was a little awkward, as the youth were unprepared for the rigors of Muay Thai. I initially failed to bring their energy levels up and was slightly uncertain as of how the 60 minutes should be utilised. Luckily for Coach Henry who stepped in to help me! During the debrief, the boys mentioned they were unprepared to come for Muay Thai, hence their hesitancy and slight resistance. When I heard that, I felt bad for them and understood why they did not seem like they were enjoying themselves. Putting myself in their shoes, I would have felt the same way as they did. The second class came after an hour of break. After having a gist of the situation and how a class could be run, I had more confidence in taking the second class. I found a way to vocalise my message across and the youth were well engaged.
The second day of the collaboration week was the most intense as we had three classes: 1 male youth class, 1 kids class, and 1 female youth class. Fortunately, each and everyone from the different classes were all extremely cooperative and it was evident that they enjoyed themselves within that short period of time frame. The kids class came first. After the 1-1.45pm Muay Thai class, the kids flooded Jungle’s ground. The noise level was intense, the screams were non-stop and 8 cute little humans were running around aimlessly. I was a little lost at first as I have never ever handled a kid on my own, let alone so many kids at a go. There was an obvious change in my tone, much gentler, much calmer so that I will not scare the kids. They were so adorable, seeing them having that immense soaring high levels of energy made me reminisce my own childhood. In less than 20 minutes into the lesson, the attention span of the 8 children were completely gone. They were doing their own things, running around, hitting one another. No matter how I tried to get their attention, nothing was reciprocated! And hence, I let them have a whale of their own time. When it was time for the kids to leave, this little girl came to hug me and thanked me. I felt so touched and loved by my little one-time student.
Frankly, I was expecting the girl youth class to be the most mundane as I held on to the stereotypical mindset that girls are probably going to be more “lady-like”, more reserved and hence might not be enthusiastic about the Muay Thai class. Per contra, the group of girls was the most cooperative out of all the 8 classes that I led. Uniquely, their group was the smallest in number, with a total of 5 pax and on top of that, 2 were held up and arrived later. Out of the 5 ladies, one of them was the coach of the girls. She came 15 minutes earlier and was the first person to reach out of the group. I was amazed at how supportive their coach is, the fact that she took her personal time out to participate in the activity with her students. I felt that this is really something commendable where the coach does not draw a line between herself from her students. Instead, she made the effort to bond with her girls and encouraged them to turn up for the Muay Thai session. While I was coaching the girls, it was apparent that each and every player was close to the coach. They were talking to her and joking with her as if she’s just like any other friend of theirs which was really heartwarming to see.
No issues were faced during the third day. Each and every class went smoothly as both groups were well-engaged, and they were attentive as of what was being brought across to them. It was encouraging to see how the youth were loving the class and the sport that they were being taught. Nothing beats the sounds of laughter! The one-hour time frame which seemed crazy long on the first day felt like seconds as they days passed by. I found myself having a good time leading the youth through the basics of Muay Thai, seeing them being amazed when I do a demonstration. Even though I am not experienced in coaching nor Muay Thai, I tried my best to teach and guide them through the basics to the best of my capabilities after watching from the side as Coach Henry or the other Jungle coaches take the usual classes.
On the final day, there was only one class. No doubt, this particular group was the hardest to teach. They were not listening, neither were they following what was taught. It was clear enough that these youth were the more violent ones, who came with the intention of learning Muay Thai to hurt others and not as a form of self-defense. I had to emphasise many times for them not to go hard. Even so, my words pretty much went under. Even though the boys were rebellious and difficult to control, they feedbacked to the SportCares in-charge saying that they enjoyed the class extremely much. Of course, I do feel satisfied knowing that.
Through this 4-day of hands-on mini coaching, I came to understand the importance of knowing the dynamics of different types of personalities or groups of people. Some may prefer to spar, some may prefer to be technical. Some are quieter, some may be rowdier. As a coach, it is essential to know how to make on-the-spot changes whenever necessary. There can never be the best lesson plan and it is good to have variations and multiple back-ups in case one fails and there is another alternative to fall back on. The takeaways were uncountable and once again, I can’t be more thankful to have such a memorable experience as the Jungle intern!