Back in the Anglo-Chinese School at Barker Road, squash was already offered as an ECA (Extra Curriculum Activity) during the 1980s. After ACS became independent in 1992 and shifted its present campus at Dover Road, ACS (I) had no existing sports facilities in the school campus even for many other sports.
Squash training was conducted externally until 1995 when 2 squash courts were built in a dark and not so well ventilated corner of the school, which is at the old multipurpose hall in the boarding school, that you see today. Hidden away from public’s view, many of my then peers did not even know that there were existing squash courts. It was in this quiet corner where value systems were strengthened, friendships were forged and champions were created.
Prior to 1995, the squash ECA was just another recreation sport, accepting students who were keen on learning a new sport. There was no need to have any selection criteria to be in squash. It was an introductory program for the students to know more about the sport.
In 1996, the new teacher-in-charge then, Mr Simon Bongard, took over the reins and laid out the goals to put squash in the fore front of ACS(I) sporting culture.
‘GO HARD OR GO HOME’ was his motto. The blazing fire in his eyes and the depth of his stare into your soul gave birth to a new level of discipline and commitment which was enforced into the hearts of every player.
The strategy was that squash would only be taking in players who did not make the cut for the very popular badminton selection trials. The filtration process enabled squash to attain players whom already have had gone through a couple of years of refining their hand eye coordination via other sporting activities. After the selection system was in placed, what was remaining was the engagement of a committed, skilled coach in the area of high performance.
ACS (I) did not have the luxury of a coach that could stay with the team longer than 6 months. It was a recurring problem and it was nearing the Inter School National Championships. Mr Bongard had to make a decision and took a calculated risk to train the team with his limited knowledge of the game.
In 1997, after many years of title drought, ACS (I) Squash attained a podium finish, 2nd runner up for the ‘C’ Division category. It was in 1998, ACS (I) enlisted the help of Mr Victor Koh, to be the coach of the Squash team. In the same year, ACS (I) brought home the first Gold medal in the ‘C’ Division category. The same batch of players continued to deliver in 1999 and bagged both ‘C’ and “B’ Division titles for the first time in ACS (I) Squash history.
In 2007, ACS (I) (having started the IB program in 2005), became the first school to attain a ‘Grand Slam’ finishing in Squash, coming in Champions across all 3 divisions.
The achievements were not possible, if not for the following factors:
- A committed and driven teacher in charge
- A committed coach
- A good value and discipline system in placed
- Committed players/students
- Strong Support of the school management
Today, ACS (I) possesses 5 air-con squash glass courts, first in all of the schools in Singapore. Mr Victor Koh is still coaching ACS (I) ‘B’ and ‘C’ Division teams, grooming champion teams to build upon the legacies that ACsians before us have fought hard to give us. I am honored to be back to help train the A Division girls and boys and the team’s regular guest, Mr Simon Bongard, comes down regularly to have a hit with the boys.
All these people and commitment are what makes up the past and present bloodline of ACS (I) Squash’s culture and heritage. If you are in ACS (I) Squash today, you have the duty and honor to uphold the legacies that your seniors have started. Do not rest on your laurels, but continue to work hard to attain new experiences and success in which you can one day contribute back to the school.
If I must end with this, I truly believe that The Best Is Yet To Be.
Benson Seow (Class of 2000) , ACS(I) Squash Coach (2013-2016)