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Wonder Women: Representing Singapore With Pride and Passion
Competing in the Tug of War Indoor World Championships this week is Singapore's Women’s Tug of War team – all of whom are Home Team officers!

Think about Tug of War and images of big, burly men with superhuman strength come to mind. That may not entirely wrong, but a group of nine (almost unassuming) ladies are ready to prove you wrong.

For the very first time, Singapore will be sending an all-women’s team to compete in the 2018 Tug of War International Federation Indoor World Championships in Xuzhou, China. It’s also the first time that the international competition is being held in Asia.

And don’t be surprised – these women also happen to be Home Team officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

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The team doing back-to-back squats as part of their warm-up routine. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

A Little More About the Team

They say two’s company and three’s a crowd, but what about nine rambunctious ladies playing Tug of War?

Among them, four hail from the SPF, two from the SPS while the remaining three are from the ICA. Two to three times a week, they gather at the grounds of the former Bedok Reformative Training Centre, their high spirits bringing life to the otherwise quiet facility.

Training starts at 6pm and ends around 9pm. However, for some members of the team, work commitments mean that they have to leave training a little earlier. It’s no secret that Home Team officers often work on shifts around the clock, and this is the case for the ICA officers on the team – Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Nur Aini, SSgt Nazurah and Sergeant (Sgt) Noraizah – who often work the night shift.

“It’s hard to get the whole team because some of us are on shift, while others work office hours,” said Senior Staff Sergeant (SSSgt) Yusmahwati Suraine (Yusmah), 35, the designated “captain” of the team. “But we understand – sometimes, a few of us are recalled at the last minute.”

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SSSgt Yusmah slinging the rope over her body. As the “anchor”, she’s the last puller on the team and wears a vest to protect her skin. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

There’s No Giving Up

Tug of War is an ancient sport that requires endurance as well as physical and mental strength – it’s not as easy as you think it is.

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“Ready, pull!” Tug of War is often dubbed the ultimate team sport and requires all its members to exercise coordination and teamwork. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Tuggers need a solid core and explosive force from the legs to press down and move backwards – they have to be in tip-top shape asthe pulling stance, which they have to maintain throughout a pull, puts their bodies in an unnatural position. Mental fortitude is important too, as holding onto the rope for extended periods is a strain on both the hands and mind.

To Play Well, One Must Eat Well Too

Since the officers started training for the competition, it has been a team effort to shave off extra pounds to meet the requirements for their weight category. As they will be participating in the women’s indoor “heavyweight” category, the team’s total weight cannot exceed 540kg.

“We avoid carbohydrates, oily food and sweet drinks so that we can meet the weight target. We also have to cut down our food intake, and eat smaller portions,” said SSSgt Yusmah. “Every training session, our coach will check on us, so we really have to lose weight together!”

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The team members have one another’s backs – literally and figuratively! PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

WhatsApp has become a useful platform for the team to stay connected and to remind one another to eat well, so that they’ll be able to meet their goals together.

For a number of the officers, this competition marks the first time that they’ll be competing in the international arena against Asian powerhouses China and Taiwan. Feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement, the team has been doing its best to prepare for the competition, training daily in the lead-up to the Championships, which start on 8 March 2018.

“There’s always a first experience for everyone – some of us may be new to the team, but we’ll give our best with every pull,” said SSSgt Yusmah. “We have to motivate one another to pull as a team. No matter how tough the competition is, we have to give our best and not give up."

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More than close; a sisterhood of Home Team officers. Top row, from left: SSgt Melrize Ng (SPF, PCG), Sgt Nurhayaty Samad (SPS), SSSgt Yusmah (SPF), Sgt Sia Wan Xin (SPF) and SSgt Nazurah Muhd Musa (ICA). Bottom row, from left: Sgt Nuraizah Mohd Said (ICA), Sgt Noorlizawati Ramdan (SPS), Insp Amanda Lee (SPF) and SSgt Nur Aini Yusop (ICA). PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Home Team News thanks the Women’s Indoor Tug of War team for representing Singapore, and wishes them all the best for the competition!

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 08 March 2018
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