By Adeena Nagib
NTU emerged as runners-up in the recently completed Singapore University Games (SUniG) for the seventh consecutive year, finishing behind National University of Singapore (NUS) once again.
This year, NTU bagged a total of 16 gold medals but fell short of overall winners NUS, who won 30 gold medals. The Games took place from 2 Sep to 19 Oct.
The women’s football team emerged victorious against NUS in the finals, with 27-year-old Yuan Yuan, a PhD student from School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, scoring in the 81st minute to give NTU a narrow 1-0 win.
The team lost last year’s finals, which broke their seven-year championship streak.
Captain Fatin Aqillah, 22, said: “Our coach focused on developing us as players and (helped us) understand that football is more than winning or maintaining a legacy.”
“He felt that understanding football could bring the team further than just kicking, passing the ball and scoring goals,” said the final-year student from Sport Science and Management (SSM).
For the ninth year on the trot, the women’s basketball team won the championship, beating NUS 76-55 in the finals.
The men’s basketball team also successfully defended their title this year, cruising past NUS 80-49 to win their second title in the last five years.
This was their second win over NUS this season, after beating them 71-53 during the group stage.
“This season was one of the craziest, but to me the most fun. We had to come back from double-digit deficits from all except one game,” said captain Sean Hoo, 24, a final-year SSM student.
He added: “Everybody grew and learned a fair bit over the course of the season. I’m proud of my guys, and I have faith that we’ll defend our Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) championship next year.”
The men’s floorball team won the championship for the second year running in a heated final against Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). NTU won 4-2, bouncing back from a 6-4 defeat when the teams first met in the group stage.
Captain Brian Tan, 24, described the season as a rollercoaster ride.
“It was clear that we were the underdogs in the tournament, and that much more was needed from us,” said the final-year student from Nanyang Business School.
“We qualified with one loss and a draw but eventually found the momentum to successfully defend our title.”
The women’s floorball team also won the championship this year, their first SUniG title in five years.
But their journey to the top was not untested, facing challenges such as having to beat defending champions NUS by a four-goal margin to qualify for the finals, and bouncing back from a 6-1 defeat in the group stages to eventual finalists SIM.
Captain Victoria Woo, 23, navigated these obstacles tactfully and decided not to reveal this daunting task to the team.
“I know my girls. Some would play differently if they knew (they needed to win by four goals),” said the final-year student from National Institute of Education.
Woo and coach Guhen Markandran finally revealed the big secret before the last period, with NTU leading by just one goal.
“It became a ‘do or die’ moment. They could either score three goals (in 15 minutes) and go to the finals, or fall short,” said Mr Guhen.
The game against NUS finished 5-1, which led to a rematch against SIM in the finals. The team eventually won 5-4, coming back from trailing 1-4 after the second period.
Mr Guhen said: “The team showed a lot of character. It was their team spirit, fitness and adaptability that won the game.
“When they suffered together in training, they became closer on and off the court.”
The men’s tchoukball and 10-pin bowling team successfully defended their title, while the women’s 10-pin bowling team brought home their sixth consecutive gold.
In a surprise turn of events, the men’s and women’s volleyball teams were left disappointed after their two-year dominance as double champions ended. The men’s and women’s teams finished second and third respectively.
“Even though we lost in the finals, we were still happy that we fought with our all. This season was actually much better than last year,” said men’s volleyball captain Ong Hong Yuan, 23, a third-year student from School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
And the men’s football team could only muster a top four finish this SUniG after last year’s win, with rivals NUS claiming the title.
Captain Mohammad Naufal Nur Hakim, 24, a third-year student from School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said the team failed to maximise their potential and need to improve for IVP.
“We will need to approach IVP better. This season showed that we must always play to our level best and not sit on our laurels,” he said.