Article by: Josh Miller
Photograph by: Juan Periquet
ISM’s many sports teams partake in local league games in preparation for the main goal at the end of every season: IASAS. However, while local leagues and schools offer ISM’s teams stiff competition, it is not always enough. Sometimes, the ever-increasing competitive demand at the season-end tournaments requires ISM’s first season teams to look for tougher competition in university teams and semi-professional club teams alike. These exhibition matches against non-league teams are beneficial in raising a team’s standard of play, but at the same time can also demoralize a team.
For example, the varsity girls volleyball team, who won the gold at IASAS just last year, often schedules matches against visiting teams. According to senior Ayaka S., “Almost every year, we get to play against a team from Okinawa, Japan. The team consists of tall American high school students (like SAS!), so it’s a great opportunity to test ourselves.” Ayaka shares that the opportunity to play against teams of a caliber closer to that of IASAS schools “is (certainly) beneficial for us. We sometimes need situations where we struggle to score points against very good teams as it allows us to have mental toughness and perseverance!”
Similarly, the varsity boys soccer team who also took the gold home last year invite semi-professional clubs over for exhibition matches. Junior Aryaan J. reveals that “we’ve only played one game against a non-league team – the Kaya Men’s B Team. We didn’t win, but it really helped our team understand where we’re at in terms of fitness and overall organization.” Given the team’s dominating form in the local league, the elaborate loss brought the team back down to earth and served as a steep learning curve just three weeks away from IASAS. Although demoralising, Aryaan claims, “it helped us gain overall team chemistry, endurance, and communication skills.”
With the overall quality of play at IASAS getting better every year, there is much to be done in preparation during the short seasons. These exhibition matches are great for ISM’s first season sports teams as it helps them identify both their strengths and the weaknesses they may want to start focusing on in training. However, it also tests a team’s individual and collective character when suddenly put in situations in which they no longer come away with an easy victory. Hopefully the lessons learned and experiences gained will outweigh the negatives for ISM’s teams, so that in a few weeks’ time, they’ll be flying back to Manila with gold medals hanging around their necks again!