Player-coach, no problem

Player-coach, no problem
School Sports Star nominee interview with Damai Secondary School's Goh Aik Lang, who doubles up as the school team's coach as they didn't hire a coach.

He is not a qualified handball coach, just a player in the school's B Division team.But as Damai Secondary School didn't have a handball coach, 17-year-old Goh Aik Lang, who made it to the national squad in February, took it upon himself to train them.

"I noticed a drop in the team morale, so I wanted to see if I could help," said Aik Lang, who decided to take over the reins last year.

And help, he certainly did.

Tapping on his own knowledge, he excelled in his dual role as player and coach and led Damai's C and B Division Boys' teams to third and fourth places respectively in last year's National Schools Championships.

It doesn't hurt that the players already look up to him in the first place, as Damai's handball teacher-in-charge Cristy Lin pointed out.

She said: "I don't know what it is about Aik Lang, but his teammates respect him a lot, especially the C Division captains, who always approach him for training advice.

"He doesn't need to be given authority to garner respect."

Aik Lang, who is preparing his team for the championships this month (B Division) and in August (C Division), admitted that it is sometimes difficult to draw a clear line between his roles as a coach and a player.

He said: "I'm not a very serious person and sometimes my teammates won't take my instructions seriously, so I have to talk to them and remind them why we are training.

"I won't raise my voice or shout at them, because that would just intimidate them and put them off.


"By talking to them nicely, they will know what you expect from them and will want to do it better."

Aik Lang demonstrates leadership skills beyond the court too.

The Secondary 5 student is the chairman of his class and was a student counsellor for his school from 2012 until he stepped down last year.

Lin, who is also Aik Lang's form teacher, said: "He's the kind of person you can assign a task to and be sure that it will get done.

"I can tell that he's a bit more tired after joining the national team's thrice-a-week training sessions, but he still does his work well."

His many responsibilities mean sacrifices have to be made, so he appreciates the value of good time management.

This article was first published on June 11 2015.
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