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October 26, 2011

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Globalization on the Court

WHEN the Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai) girls volleyball team takes to the court, there are two things people notice immediately: internationalism and a strong support network.

Remarkably, every single one of the 12 players is from a different country, and they receive not only enthusiastic support from each other but also from other classmates on the sideline.

"And it's not just at games," notes Ray Kentish, head of Physical Education and coach at YCIS Shanghai's Gubei campus. "Our students are so supportive of each other, watching each other's practices and games consistently throughout the season.

That loyalty is one of the reasons sports are so important at YCIS Shanghai.

"Our students are sports enthusiasts … much of what they are learning on the sports field, like loyalty to their peers, are lessons that will help build well-rounded global citizens," says Kentish.

The lessons can be directly applied to their future careers as well. Kentish says: "Groups of international teams working together ties in with our aim of preparing children to be globally competitive - they will very likely be working in teams with this sort of makeup off the field in their working lives."

Celest Dines Muntaner, a Year 13 student from Spain, has been active in the sports program since she was in Year 7, participating in touch rugby, football, swimming, volleyball and basketball. For her, sports brings a depth to friendships that is a reward in itself, and one that ultimately feeds back into sports performance: "You get to know people so well when you play on a team together," she says.

"Even beyond learning to work together on the field, the extra time spent together on buses and at tournaments means you really get to know each other off the field as well. Those of us on school teams form a community, even in the off-season. Some of us have played on teams together for two or three years in a row, sometimes in several different sports, so we've become good friends. As a result, we play much better as a team because of how well we know each other and the experience we have of playing together."

For Marcella Rader, a parent of three, the sports program is an important element in a balanced education, which she feels is crucial in fulfilling her children's potential.

"At YCIS Shanghai, the academic program helps to feed their intellectual needs. The global philosophy helps to feed their multicultural awareness. The service and community aspect helps to feed their sense of responsibility and belonging in the community. The sports program feeds their physical needs, but more importantly, it ties all these different aspects of their education into a hands-on experience where they apply and learn to become proficient in skills such as strategy, hard work, tolerance and respect for others in the community."

Kentish notes that although they have fewer teams than some of Shanghai's other international schools, YCIS Shanghai sports teams still consistently outperform many of their competitors. "We instill in our students the importance of determination, of trying their best no matter what the circumstances, and our athletic performance shows that our athletes have learned this particular lesson well."

He goes on to add that the range of sports offered is varied. YCIS student athletes play a variety of sports, at a variety of levels: basketball, volleyball, soccer, table tennis and cross-country. Some are fiercely competitive at the Division I level, while others are geared to allow every child the experience of playing on a team.

"Regardless of the sport or the level, our students are learning the value of teamwork, the process of working together to reach a common goal. That's a valuable life lesson that will stand them in good stead wherever they go next," says Kentish.

Quick Guide to School Sports Leagues
? Asia Pacific Activities Conference (APAC)
APAC is composed of 12 international schools in the Asian region: China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam. The schools host three-day sporting tournaments and fine arts festivals in 17 separate activities.

? Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS)
ACAMIS is a regional grouping of schools, with one school per region in each group. Sports competitions culminate in a three-day tournament hosted in turn by each school.

? China International Schools Sports Association (CISSA)
CISSA is a "total participation" sports partnership based in Shanghai with 20 member schools from Shanghai and neighboring cities. Schools are divided geographically - East and West - and play weekday games against other schools in their division and then both zones come together for day-long Saturday events. Each coach then selects a player to represent their division in an East vs West representative game.

? Shanghai International Schools Activities Conference (SISAC)
The SISAC mission is to provide seasonal sports competition and activity events in a well-chaperoned environment for students of international schools in Shanghai and neighboring cities.


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