FUTSAL, basketball, badminton, volleyball, netball, tennis, table tennis, ultimate frisbee. If you head down to the sporting grounds of a Victorian university, odds are you may find some international students from the ASEAN region making friends and relaxing by playing one of these sports. Now, they have a new outlet in which to do so.
Taking place for the first time on the weekend of October 1 and 2 here in Melbourne, the ASEAN Student Games are open to international students from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and applications for both individuals and teams are open until Friday September 16.
Individuals and teams play under the banner of their country, with the final tally to show how many gold, silver and bronze medals students from each country won over the length of the games.
For those from smaller nations such as Brunei, it may be difficult to get a team together. But the organisers say students in that situation can join with another team, and compete for a country other than their own. After all, it’s not all about the competition.
ASEAN games organiser Vincent Tjendra says it’s about “friendship, getting to know your neighbours”.
And it’s already begun, way before the games have taken place proper, the Master of Engineering student says.
When applications for the executive committee were opened, more than a hundred people applied. The organisers took on everyone they could, and now there are so many of them, they have to meet in food courts to get their planning done.
“Although it sounds big, we’ve each gained 20 friends,” says Tjendra.
“We emphasise that and not just being colleagues…that’s the whole idea why we’re doing it.”
It’s also provided first-year students an opportunity to learn from their seniors.
“By second semester, most first year students are settled down, and want to gain experience and make new friends,” says Tjendra.
Among them is Dwayne Ong, who says he became interested when he saw the application for marketing committee members.
Since then, he has accompanied Tjendra on visits to different universities to spread the word about the games, or “lecture-bashing” as they like to call it.
Ong has no regrets about getting involved and is keen to help continue the games next year, he says.
If applications are anything to go by, the games are shaping up to be a roaring success. But Tjendra isn’t surprised.
“We reckon all south-east Asian countries just love sports,” he says with a grin.
The organising committee has received two hundred applications, some comprising individuals and others teams. Already 15 basketball teams, 30 futsal teams, 5 volleyball teams, and 80 badminton players are looking to join.
The schedule is still being organised, but it is expected the games will all take place in the city over what is sure to be a very full two days.
Meld Magazine is proud to be the official media partner of the ASEAN Student Games. To find out more information about the games, including how to register, visit the Asean Student Games website.