Exactly a week has passed since the Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (nicknamed NUMed) hosted their annual sports tournament, the NUMed Games, at the Educity Sports Complex. For the 2017 edition, there were a total of 10 events contested throughout the day; tennis, netball, futsal, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, badminton, frisbee, swimming and athletics (track and field). Despite being comparatively smaller than most of the other participating universities, USMC was able to field participants in each event excluding volleyball – and showed that quality trumps quantity indeed (read till the end for results!).

As a participant, my day began at 6:45am – much, much earlier than what I was used to on a typical Saturday morning! The night before, the USMC netball team had agreed to head over to the sports complex early for registration – and thanks to this decision, for a good hour we had the netball court to ourselves, meaning plenty of time to go through ball drills and practice our shooting. After a light yet reassuring amount of practice, we gathered with fellow participants from USMC to find out who would be competing when and exchange words of support (many events were held simultaneously, unfortunately making it difficult for us to cheer each other on in person). The opening ceremony officially kicked off the games at around nine, and as all of the participants dispersed from the sports’ complex’s indoor stadium for their respective events, our team headed back to the netball court.

For the netball tournament, there were a total of nine teams participating; Reading University and NUMed fielded two teams each whilst the remaining four teams, excluding ourselves, were represented by the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology (NMIT), Monash University (Clinical School), Perdana University and the International Medical University (IMU). The nine teams were split into three groups for round-robin play; the three teams that topped their respective groups would then advance to the ‘finals’, playing in round-robin fashion to determine the colour of their medals.

Our defenders thwarting a shot in our first match. Photo credits: Sean Ng (Ocrux Studios)
Our defenders vying for a rebound in our first match. Photo credits: Sean Ng (Ocrux Studios)

For the first two group matches, we comfortably eased into the role of spectators. It gave me the opportunity to explain a few rules and umpire calls that were foreign to the other members of the netball team who, excluding the captain, had little to none experience playing netball before coming to USMC (we were very much the underdogs that day). It was then our turn to get on the court, and we were relieved to play against the familiar faces of Reading Team 2 for our first group match; not only were we on friendly terms, just two nights before we had a joint training session that ended with a friendly match. During said friendly match however, the USMC team consensus was that we had played poorly – so much so that it lead us to identify and work on our most dire weaknesses the very night before competition. It thus came as a pleasant surprise to us when, after 14 minutes of game-play, our first group match ended with a score of 6 – 0 in favour of USMC. Although ecstatic about our smooth teamwork and subsequent win, we noted the aspects we needed to improve on for our next match against Perdana. The second match was more closely contested; although we led at halftime, the final score came to 3 – 3.

Despite the outcome, the Reading and USMC continued to support each other throughout the day. Photo credits: Sean Ng (Ocrux Studios)
Despite being competitors, the Reading and USMC teams genuinely supported each other throughout the day.
Photo credits: Sean Ng (Ocrux Studios)

Having won a match and tied another, whether we advanced past the group stage was left to be determined by the outcome of our group’s final match between Reading 2 and Perdana. With the members that had attended the NUMed Games in 2016 noting that either way, it was an improvement from winning none of their games the previous year, we weren’t too mindful about the outcome. Whilst waiting for the deciding match, we diverted our attention elsewhere; assuming the role of spectators once again, we watched and cheered as USMC’s two futsal teams played on the neighbouring courts with inspiring tenacity and dedication. Once the match between Reading 2 and Perdana began, we continued to support our friends from Reading as they slowly but surely regained their form. Eventually, Perdana won the match 3 – 1, which meant that we were through to the finals!

“Wait, but why? Didn’t Perdana also win one and draw one, like us?” – the rest of the team members (and possibly you, reading this) asked as they looked to me. In reflection, it was a funny turn of events; with our captain currently in the stadium for the frisbee event, in that moment, I was the only team member present with enough netball experience to understand that despite 75% of our team being ‘netball newbies’, we had advanced to the finals thanks to a better goal difference.

A lighthearted shot taken after the tournament with some Reading netball team members.
A lighthearted shot taken after the tournament with some Reading netball team members.

Whilst the team was still coming to grasps with the fact that we, the underdog team with both the least members and combined experience, had advanced to the finals, the other two finalists Reading Team 1 and IMU played the first ‘finals’ match. By this time, the midday sun was ruthless, and combined with our built-up exhaustion, we were already sweating as we cheered on Reading from the sidelines. IMU continued their strong performance that day, scoring each time they got the ball to their shooters and subsequently defeating Reading 1. It was then time for our first ‘finals’ match, where we played against Reading Team 1 in a closely contested match that ended with USMC winning 3 – 1.

We couldn't resist asking IMU for a picture after they received their gold medals at the closing ceremony.
We couldn’t resist asking IMU for a picture after they received their gold medals at the closing ceremony.

After only 5 minutes to rest, the final match against IMU was underway. They proved to be our toughest competitors, consecutively scoring despite our defence’s best efforts; it made a gripping match deserving of being the last match of the day. At halftime, we were trailing 2 – 8, and as we were trying to catch our breaths and discuss ways to improve during the 2 minute halftime, we were informed that, due to the Games’ tight scheduling, one of our team members had to leave to participate in the high jump event. The news meant that she couldn’t substitute in for our asthmatic member on the team, who was winded from the first half; left with just enough members to play, we made do with the unfortunate situation, making a few position changes in the defence before the second half began. It was during those final 7 minutes where exhaustion fully caught up to the team, and despite our best efforts to push through, the point gap only widened and IMU won with a score of 14 – 3.

the team
Although it was a shame we didn’t manage to become the champions, we were still overjoyed and immensely proud that we had finished as the first runner-up – after all, our journey was still an underdog success story; the USMC netball team went from losing all their games one year to second place the next! With that much of an improvement over a year, aiming to be champions next year doesn’t seem to be too unreasonable, right?

We then headed to the outdoor stadium to cheer on USMC’s track and field athletes, as well as catch up with participants from the other morning events; although there was a lot of banter regarding all of our obvious sunburns, many were pleasantly surprised to hear of our second place finish, and we too were happy upon hearing USMC’s positive results in other sports. Unbeknownst to all of us however, was one final surprise. As all the gold medals were gifted at the closing ceremony, the USMC participants and supporters sat together in the stands, applauding all the champions despite the lack of any from our own university. Thus when it came to the overall results, none of us were expecting much; our ears only perked in curiosity when it was announced that two universities had tied for third place. “And in tied third place.. Southampton and-” Before we could even register who we had tied with (MDIS), the USMC stands erupted in exclamations of joy as we looked at each other in surprise. How did this come to be? We hadn’t even received one gold medal! It was only later, once all the participants could post updates on various social networks, that I realised despite no first place finishes, USMC had managed to secure many second and third place finishes. Below is the full list of events where we placed! 

A list of the names behind the achievements can be found here.

Of course, it’s going to take tremendous efforts from both our indispensable athletes and supporters to repeat our success next year, but with results as stellar as these.. aiming to be the champion university next year doesn’t seem to be too unreasonable of a goal either, right?

It was all smiles as the USMC participants present at the closing ceremony gathered to take a picture as a second runner-up university. Photo credits: Sean Ng (Ocrux Studios)
It was all smiles as the USMC participants present at the closing ceremony gathered to take a picture as a second runner-up university. Photo credits: Sean Ng (Ocrux Studios)

(For more on the day, one of our students, Sean Ng, took many fantastic action shots that provide a brilliant walk-through of the whole sporting event, which can be found here).

NUMed Games: Sports, Sunburns and Surprises

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *