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Not dropping the ball: Juggling CCA and academics

15 Jan 2020

Afiq Danial Abdul Rahman

The ‘O’ level results have been released. For secondary school fresh graduates, this is the moment they have been anticipating – the culmination of four or five years of hard work. We checked in with a Mayflower Secondary school student, to find out how he feels about his results, and how he managed to efficiently split his time between his CCA and his studies. By Tung Yon Heong.

They sauntered into the hall leisurely, belying their feelings of trepidation and excitement. Like cohorts before them, the newly minted secondary school graduates were about to partake in a ritual enshrined in Singapore’s traditions – the collection of ‘O’ level results in the school auditorium.

As the results were handed out in nondescript grey letters, many broke out in cheers; some wept quietly, comforted by their parents and peers.

Afiq Danial B Abdul Rahman, a former captain of the Mayflower Secondary school football team, could not have been more overjoyed with  his results. “I feel really grateful, I exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t have done it without my teachers, my parents and my peers.”

Afiq’s father, who accompanied him, was beaming with pride. “I’m very proud of my son,” said Mr Abdul Rahman.

In two worlds

It hasn’t been an easy journey for Afiq. His father had to stop working due to health issues and his mother is a housewife. Afiq has three siblings.

Despite the challenges, Afiq excelled in his CCA as well as in the classroom. Last year, he was awarded the Edusave Character Award (ECHA), which awards students based on their exemplary behaviour and outstanding personal qualities. He was also briefly attached with the Home United Football Club. And the fact that he only picked up football while in Secondary school makes his achievements all the more impressive.

The key to Afiq’s O-level success, he felt, was his ability to deftly juggle his commitment to the football team and his studies. “I separate the two clearly: When I’m in the field playing football, I don’t think too much about my studies; likewise, when I’m studying in class, I don’t think about football. This way, I can fully concentrate and do well for my studies, and at the same time excel in my CCA,” he said.

There were times when Afiq’s CCA commitments clashed with his study schedule, and he had to prioritise and cut back on his CCA as a result. “In Secondary 4, I was sitting for my mid-year exams and at the same time I was preparing for a football tournament. But the teacher in charge of football, Mr. Gad, helped me out by reducing my participation time.”

Trusting his son’s judgement

Afiq’s father had initial misgivings about Afiq’s commitment to his CCA. However, he took a hands-off approach and gave Afiq the freedom to plan his schedule.

“I was afraid that his CCA might affect his studies,” said Abdul Rahman. “But I had confidence that he could manage both his CCA and his studies. I don’t like to stress my son, because he knows that Secondary 4 is a crucial year for him. Let him be on his own; he is an adult already – he can think for himself. As a parent, I let him be independent and take responsibility.”

Thankfully, setting his priorities right has paid off for Afiq. He currently has an EAE application for the Sports and Wellness course at Nanyang Polytechnic. Afiq hopes to go to a university and eventually embark on a career in physiotherapy.