Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TANJUNG RHINOS - ROAD TO VICTORY 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Written by : Tuan Haji Salleh bin Kaimi

Tn Hj Salleh with Our greatest referre, Subkidin Mohd Salleh and Tn Hj Khalid Ayub
The quest for victory spurred Tanjung Rhinos to work harder. After becoming finalist in the MSSD Rugby Tourney, where we lost to a national level finalist – English College, the coaches drummed up the players to be champion at KAT’S zone level carnival at Segamat in late April. Thus training after training followed. The aim was set to dethrone the current and defending zone champion – SMV Muar – which represented South Zone at KAT’S national level carnival at Muar last year.With great enthusiasm, the coaches and the players trained and trained. Friendly matches were arranged with other school teams to build up confidence. At Segamat we managed to get the players focused, Matches were played at SMK Bandar Putra ground. We managed to beat SMV Batu Pahat, SMV Muar and SMT Johor Bahru. Our prayers were answered when we entered the final against another reputable team – SMV Segamat. It was a very tough match as every try and conversion was evenly matched by the other team. Tempers flared as each team was trying to outdo the other and as a result  we were deadlocked with the same point though we were leading at first. To save time penalty conversion was decided upon and it was really a nerve-wrecking moment for players and supporters alike. Crucial moments were when we were tied again at 3 – 3 and at last we won by a very narrow margin. It was a triumphant moment for the Rhinos as we would be representing Johore for the very first time. But with that came the heavy burden – achieving the target of at least a semi-final berth. The coaches set the momentum going.

Trainings were held daily after the mandatory school activities – from 5.00pm to 6.30pm. Stamina build up, tactical and spiritual values were inculcated into their minds. The spirits of camaraderie and brotherhood strengthened among the players. Everyone’s spirit was high. The mid-year exam prior to the school holidays slowed down their activities and were later given off-days during the first week of the semester break. The rejuvenated players reassembled after the first week. Light trainings were encouraged as we could not risk injuries to the players. The day of departure arrived – 7th June. The players were given motivation in order to achieve their set goals. We departed after a photo session with the Principal. There were 18 players, U Rahman, En Salmezan and En Mohd Salleh plus the two drivers, En Yusuf and En Yuhadzlan. The players were excited as for the majority it was their first trip there. A few were texting and others were sleeping – making up for lost sleeping hours and the hyperactive – karaokeing!!!!!. 

Karaoke time!!!
Lunch stop at Leban Condong after the Dzuhur prayer at the Rompin mosque was heartening as we managed to loosen our tired legs and sampled the delicious lunch – but the prices were a bit steep for simple fares taken. We proceeded to Kuantan in the heat of the day via the new Pekan- Kuantan highway before turning into the formerly sleepy but fast developing Tanjung Lumpur – a suburb of Kuantan. We arrived at about 6.00pm and checked-in at the hostel. Luckily our “temporary dwelling” was facing the field – thus we got fresh breezes blown through the open field and the lush invigorating Bukit Pelindung was nearby. Accomodation was Spartan with high ceiling but poor toilet conditions – prevalent in almost all school hostels that I had been to. Waking up was hard to do. The players had to be cajoled to wake up to perform the mandatory dawn prayer. At first they performed the prayers at the nearby surau downstairs but later in the dorm itself as it was quite troublesome especially as time was limited as a few cubicles in the toilet had functioning facets with proper doors. Thus the students had to ease themselves and later take their bath on the lower floors – a time consuming routine indeed.

Welcome to SM Teknik Kuantan!!
After breakfast – normally two pieces of thin bread, scramble egg and a piece of chicken frank or just fried mee and sweet “teh O”- imagine eating fried mee with your own “forks and spoons”- totally unthinkable especially for teachers!!! Has the standard gone down that far??? Not to let these things hamper our preparations, off we went for our practice session. First at MPK ground at Taman Gelora. It was my idea that we “invaded” the just trimmed pitch as we couldn’t find any other suitable venues. The workout touched only on tacticals. It rained heavy that night which was supposed to be the opening night. The rhinos coiled up on their mattresses for an early night since there was nothing much to do. I did not feel the presence of any mosquitoes unlike others. Sound sleep we had but the next dawn was another hustle. Due to the heavy rain we realised that the pitch would be a little soggy and not conducive for play. I suggested that we build up their stamina and later decided to let the players jog/run up the nearby Bukit Pelindung. I challenged  them that I managed to do that with my children and wife and cousins in 20 minutes. After briefing and warming up, they ran up the 220metre steep hill topped by Telecom Transmission Towers. Jog they did but reached the accessible top in 40 minutes. Panting, they managed to loosen their muscles and breathe fresh air. After picture taking with landmarks at the top, they descended slowly finding U Rahman waiting for them at “base camp “.

After lunch and a rest, the players teamed up on the field – to familiarise themselves with the pitch at the venue – as those other teams. It ended with a rest, prayer, dinner and informal pep talks by the coaches. The opening ceremony was done at SMV Pelindung – in the school hall as the weather was unfriendly – and only those staying at that school hostel had to attend. Our coach had all the players glued to his motivational talk with video presentations – of matches played before. On another night, it was Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone – his determination to become champion in order to spur the players to greater height. We went out “ngeteh” at the nearby roti outlet as we had not had that drink for a few days! Friday, the day of the matches arrived as the sun shone on them. The venue – SMK Sultan Abu Bakar Kuantan. Our first match was against  SMV Arau, the team we drew with during the Arau Invitational last January. The players were, for the very first time, dressed in the most eye-catching and up –to – date jerseys sponsored by Golden Straits Villas Beach Resort. This time we won. Later it was rest before Friday prayer. So we returned early to the hostel before the prayer which we performed at the newly-opened Tok Sera Mosque, a stone’s throw away from my homestay – a semi D. It is air-conditioned but we had to perform the prayer outside as it was full to the brim.
@ SMK Sultan Abu Bakar, Kuantan ground
Versus Voc-Ar at the 1st game
After prayer, we had a tough time against SMV Sijingkat but we persevered. A technical glitch occurred and we had earlier sought the help of our Principal to bring the required documents. As a result our key player was not allowed to play in the second match. The required documents were duly delivered as quickly as possible before the match against SMV Kuala Kangsar. The key player showed his mettle by going one on one and touched the ball under the goal posts. A rare feat indeed. Bad umpiring/refereeing reared its ugly head when the referee’s decisions were questionable. As a result, three of our players were sent out – red cards. This a bit demoralised our other players that they lost the game. Nevertheless they carried on fighting gallantly. Frustrated, the players rested for the night with pep talks by U Rahman as they had another match Saturday morning. I had earlier bought kropok lekor sagu from my favourite stall in Tanjung Lumpur to supplement their diet and they were all gone in 5 minutes with the promise to order more the next day.

Facing SMT Sikijang challenged
Lost with SMV Kuala Kangsar
With enough rest, they woke up as scheduled and were raring to give their best against SMV Butterworth. A draw result 5-5 was enough and Alhamdulillah we qualified for the 3rd and 4th placing as we became the group’s runner-up. After lunch the students were given pep talks by the coach and the Principal – on their last mission that would place them at no 3 or 4 respectively. The players promised to give their best. It was a closely contested match as both teams inched their way to victory by scoring one after the other simultaneously. We won by 7-5. The final was played later between SMV Kuala Kangsar and SMV Kuala Terengganu (Wakaf Tembusu) , the incumbent who later retained the title. The prize giving ceremony followed officiated by Tn Hj Tajuddin Bin Jab, the Director for Vocational and Technical Education. The winners and losers were congratulated and later a photography session was held with the “boss”, and later with other contesting teams. The exhausted players were later treated to an early dinner by the Principal at a seafood restaurant in Tanjung Lumpur. The players joyously enjoyed their rice meals with their favourite drinks.The students were left on their own – resting for the night as there wasn’t much to do at night and they had achieved the target set by the Principal – a semi-final berth !. Sunday was an off-day and the students were let loose at Mega Mall, one of Kuantan’s premier shopping complexes before checking-out at noon – after lunch. The closing ceremony was later afficiated by Tn. Hj. Tajuddin bin Jab with brass band presentation by the Methodist Girls School Band.

Sang our school song 'Berilmu untuk berjasa' after lucky win against Ampangan
We sang Bertemu dan Berpisah (Auld Lang Syne), had tea and later boarded the bus for the journey home – praying at a small mosque near Gambang and having dinner at the Muadzam Shah R & R. The journey was smooth with the students fast asleep as they had to attend school the day after. We reached the school at around 2.00 am Monday morning, exhausted but glad with our achievements. For the players, we have another assignment to accomplish – The Iskandar Malaysia 10’s Rugby Challenge 2011 due on the 9th and 10th of July, 2011.
Well boys – Happy “Hunting”’

Msk.com
27 Juni 2011.

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