Row To The Beat

Dragonboat committee members discuss their commitments, their will to win and their sharing of NS experiences.

By Yong Shu Chiang        1 February 2019

Ronald Cheong and Loh Jia Wei have been “in the same boat” for two years. They are committee members of the SAFRA Dragonboat Club, with Ronald serving as treasurer and Jia Wei as the president. “We have been sharing ideas on how to improve the club and do better for our next race,” says Ronald, 42, who is married, has a young son, and works as a consultant with an international life insurance broker.

Jia Wei, 25, is the club’s youngest-ever president. He is single, works as a manager and coordinator for an F&B establishment, and first joined the club to keep fit.

“You can be fit and strong, but what’s more important is the camaraderie among teammates and coordinating as a team.” Jia Wei began his journey as a SAFRA volunteer by taking charge of the club’s recruitment. Ronald, 17 years his senior, has been a SAFRA member for more than 20 years. Despite the age difference, the pair have been working well together for the good of the club, which conducts training three times a week and competes in up to seven local races and one overseas race each year.

What is your most memorable experience with the club?

Ronald: Winning races with the team! Dragonboat races are very competitive and race preparation is always a challenge. It requires the team to maintain or reduce weight, maintain or increase strength, with lots of highintensity cardio required. All this requires commitment and a focus on safety to prevent injuries.

Jia Wei: Our team won a final at last year’s Singapore Dragonboat Festival, beating a few strong expat teams along the way. That accomplishment, seeing smiles on everyone’s faces, will always be etched in my mind.

Is it challenging to balance club commitments with work and family?

R: Jia Wei and the former club president approached me to take on the role of treasurer, since I am familiar with finances. As I’m passionate about dragonboating, I don’t really have any problems with managing time commitments. And you can’t really measure passion.

JW: For me, having to juggle work, family and a relationship is a big challenge – you need support from your friends and family. Committee members like Ronald have taught me how to prioritise and manage my time. Communication and planning well are also important.

How do your NS experiences compare?

R: I am an Air Warfare Officer (Ground Based Air Defence) and the Commanding Officer for 9th Divisional Air Defence Battalion. I am in the ROVERS (Reservist on Voluntary Extended Reserve Service) scheme. Every batch of NSmen have different experiences, but the bonds that soldiers forge differ from those shared in civilian life.

JW: I am an Underwater Combat Medic in the Navy, currently attached to RSS Vengeance. It is interesting to hear what older NSmen went through. Our club includes NSmen of all generations and vocations. We share stories about our NS lives and vocational duties. This reminds us the importance of our different roles when it comes to safeguarding our country.

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