Rope skipping helps pupils develop their stamina, agility and body coordination.
Guess what the hottest sport at Hong Wen School is. No, it's not soccer, basketball or table tennis.
It's rope skipping, which is so popular that the school has been awarded Niche Programme status for its many achievements in this sport.
This love affair with rope skipping was evident to all at the recent 5 Kids Long Rope Skipping Competition, in which six teams from Hong Wen took part, dazzling the crowd as they leaped in near perfect synchrony. Three other pupils from the school also performed during an interval, enthralling the crowd with stunts that were tests of speed, stamina and coordination.
How did rope skipping become such a hit among the pupils?
Ms Lee Lay Eng, the teacher in charge of the rope skipping CCA, explains that rope skipping took off back in the 1990s when Hong Wen began sending teams to an annual primary school rope skipping championship. "Since then, this sport has become a CCA in Hong Wen School," she states.
Pri 2 pupil Yee Chen Yi charms the crowd with his skipping performance.
Not content to stick solely to the competitive stage, the skipping team promoted their sport with performances at events such as the Mooncake Festival, Prize-giving Day and the Pri 1 Orientation. As they wowed audiences with their tricks and talent, more and more pupils jumped onto the bandwagon, and from a team of 20, rope skipping grew into a CCA boasting 183 pupils from all levels.
Within the CCA, the pupils are divided into two groups: about 40 percent are highly-trained skippers who take part in competitions and the school's performance team. The other 60 percent are pupils who are beginners or enjoy the sport non-competitively. During practice and training sessions, teachers will identify individuals who show promise as competitive or performance rope skippers.
Not just a CCA
At Hong Wen School, rope skipping isn't just a CCA. In fact, all Pri 1 pupils are given a skipping rope so that they can join a fun and vigorous form of exercise that builds stamina, agility and body coordination.
"Rope skipping is incorporated into the Physical Education syllabus for the Pri 1 pupils," says Ms Lee. "This will ensure that all the pupils have one year of solid skipping foundation as this is the best period to build up their fundamental and loco-motor movements."
Pri 1 pupils have one period of rope skipping lessons each week. For all other levels, the sport features as a fitness and conditioning activity in PE lessons.
Hong Wen School has been awarded the Niche Programme status for its excellence in rope skipping.
Rope skipping has also leapt into the social arena. Hong Wen pupils have tapped their skipping skills to contribute to the broader community as part of their National Education programme. Working with organisations such as the Singapore Heart Foundation, the school has sent pupils to skip for a good cause at events such as an official visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Kampong Glam in 2008. The chance to strut their stuff at such public performances also helps the pupils build up their confidence and prepare them for future competitions.
Great leaps forward
Alas, none of Hong Wen's teams walked away with top prizes at the 5 Kids Long Rope competition. But the pupils are undeterred and are now training for the 5th Asian Rope Skipping Competition to be held in Hong Kong from 23-27 July. A welcome boost to their self-confidence came when the school was named overall champion for the junior boys, junior girls, senior boys and senior girls categories in this year's South Zone Inter-Primary Schools Rope Skipping Championships.
At the moment, rope skipping is not a CCA in secondary schools. But Ms Lee is hopeful that her pupils will continue to hone their skills in the sport after they leave Hong Wen. She reveals plans to form a Rope Skipping Alumni. Former pupils would be invited to share their experience and tips with younger schoolmates.
"We will also continue to fuse skipping into the PE curriculum as this is an effective way to talent scout young skippers," she adds.
One such talent is Pri 2 pupil, Yee Chen Yi. He only picked up the sport last year but is already participating in competitions and was one of the three star performers at the 5 Kids Long Rope event.
"I like sports like basketball and swimming but I enjoy skipping the most because it is fun and interesting!" he declares. And with new plans in store to further develop the Hong Wen's budding talents by exposing them to more foreign competitions and international trainers, pupils like Chen Yi can expect to jump for joy and make great leaps forward in pursuit of their favourite sport.