Three years ago, no one would have thought that Mohamad Haikel could become the captain of New Town Primary School's tchoukball team and a national Under-12 player.
Yet, yesterday, he led his school to a quarter-final finish in the boys' senior division at the third edition of the SPH Foundation National Primary Schools Tchoukball Championships held at Junyuan Primary.
It marked a remarkable turnaround from the days when he played truant regularly.
Teacher-in-charge Vicknesh Rajamohan said: "He was very naughty and distracted back in Primary Four, and I did not expect him to be a captain then."
However, the prospect of being excluded from tchoukball training sparked the change in attitude.
The Primary Six pupil said: "I was not be allowed to play if I didn't go to school, and I also had to pass at least three subjects to continue playing.
"That made me go to school and work harder in studies."
A total of 39 primary school teams took part in the competition, organised in line with one of SPH Foundation's key objectives of promoting sports.
It marks a huge rise from the 2012 edition, with only 19 teams, and last year, which had 23.
Haikel's school lost 5-9 in the quarter-finals to Greendale Primary, who narrowly lost 10-11 to Junyuan in the final.
Beacon Primary defeated New Town 12-4 for the girls' title.
Said Jeff Ang, the honorary general secretary of the Tchoukball Association of Singapore: "The standard of play was really high, and active competition will only help to raise levels of tchoukball, which bodes well for the future.
"We are pushing for the sport to be included as a demonstration sport in next year's SEA Games.
"It's a sport for all as everybody has a chance to be involved due to the no-interception rule."
This article was first published on May 24, 2014.
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