Building and maintaining commitment is a continuous process for both leaders and individuals alike. It first begins as a struggle, before requiring constant thought and attention. To learn more about the importance of being committed, SMU Snapshots met up with Chan Wan Qing, who has steadily made her way from the side-lines to becoming a key middle-position player and today, the captain of SMU Touch Football.

With her petite frame and demure appearance, it is no surprise that Wan Qing grew up with ballet. Even when she first joined touch football in junior college, her heart was still with ballet and she often sacrificed touch football trainings for ballet classes. Without regular practice, it was challenging for Wan Qing to keep up with her peers and she struggled with staying motivated for the trainings that she did go for.

Perseverance pays off

Determined to start from a blank slate in university, Wan Qing put in her best effort at every touch rugby training and made sure that she was constantly improving in technique and physical endurance. She quickly made her way from playing wing-position near the side-lines, where she had been placed during her days in junior college, closer to the middle, and now dictates the strategy for each game as a middle-position player.

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Wan Qing going in for a save

Beneath Wan Qing’s delicate frame now lies a resolute determination to constantly improve and become her best self.

“It was only after I was selected to play at the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games, that I realised there is so much more to learn and develop in terms of technical skills. Moving in to become a Middle player meant that I was also more involved in the game, which was fun and helped to build my confidence. That’s when I decided to persevere and be committed to improving my game.”

Hard work, perseverance and commitment. These are the traits that stand out when Wan Qing shares her story. She also gives credit to her former captain for inspiring her to be a firm, but understanding, leader. As a self-professed introvert, Wan Qing has come a long way from the days where she would retreat deeper into her comfort zone at every opportunity.

“Being captain has forced me to speak up and become more confident in leading the team and assisting my coach during demonstrations. The environment in SMU also favours speaking up, so that has also made me open up and become less inhibited.”

The importance of commitment

The biggest lesson that Wan Qing has learnt from her journey with touch football is that anything is possible as long as you put your heart to it, show commitment, and are open to learning.

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Wan Qing and team mate

“In sports, especially during competition, it can turn pretty ugly out in the field when people are harsh with their words.” She adds that “it is important to be able to pick yourself up – always remember the words that were said instead of the tone that was used.” Instead of taking criticism personally and feeling discouraged, which Wan Qing used to experience, she now takes all criticism in a positive light and learns from it to improve her game.

Keeping motivated

Having experienced the sport from different perspectives – as a side-line player, a key player, and now as captain – Wan Qing has learnt as a leader that it is important to keep members motivated and encouraged.

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Wan Qing (middle) and her team mates huddling for a photo

“We need to empower people with more positivity and encouragement. Because if they feel that they cannot really improve or learn anything during training, they would become discouraged and question their value as a member. Leaders should strive to ensure that each member feels valued.”

On the flip side, members must also desire to improve and be committed. Wan Qing thinks back to her time in junior college and realises that her feelings of inadequacy which resulted in her becoming less invested in the sport, all stemmed from her decision to sacrifice touch football for ballet.

“Commitment works two ways. Leaders have to reach out to members to foster a sense of belonging, but members must also make the effort and want to be a part of the team. When it comes to touch football, it can be a challenging sport to pick up, but if you persist with more practice, the efforts will pay off.”

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Chan Wan Qing, SMU Touch Rugby captain

Looking back on her time in SMU, Wan Qing is pleased about the deliberate decisions she has made along the way to improve herself. Leading a team, being groomed into a key player and shedding the fear of speaking up, are achievements that required taking many baby steps out of her comfort zone.