After interviewing Kah Whye, an athlete playing Boccia, our team has written his story for you.
This is his story.
Find Kah Whye’s achievements here: https://www.myactivesg.com/team-singapore/athletes/n/neo-kah-whye
Persons with Physical Disabilities
Kah Whye is a 21-year-old Boccia player who has represented Singapore in several international competitions. He has been playing Boccia for seven years now. In his free time, he enjoys playing First Person Shooter (FPS) games and tower defence games.
What is Boccia?
Boccia is a precision ball sport in which two participants compete to throw or roll balls of their colour (red or blue) closer to a white target ball called the jack. It is a Paralympic sport, and Team Singapore currently ranks 19th in the world (according to the Boccia International Sports Federation). Both a sport and a strategy game, Boccia requires participants to consider their opponent’s strategy in addition to their own.
Kah Whye first learnt about Boccia during his time in school at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore when his teachers suggested that he join the sport upon glimpsing his potential. It was hard work learning to improve in the sport – due to his condition, Kah Whye initially struggled to throw the ball. According to him, it took two years for him to be able to throw the ball – two years of effort and dedicated training, with the support of his coaches.
All his effort has paid off – Kah Whye is now a senior player in Boccia and a veteran national representative in the sport. He has represented Singapore in many international Boccia competitions, among them the Asian Youth Para Games, ASEAN Para Games, and the Hong Kong Boccia Open Championship.
Later, when faced with a choice of having to give up either Boccia or his other co-curricular activity, Scouts, Kah Whye chose Boccia in order to challenge himself and continue improving in the sport.
Transport, for Kah Whye, is an issue. While many buses are now wheelchair-friendly, not all of them are. This means that sometimes, Kah Whye is forced to wait a substantial length of time before a bus that he can board finally arrives, and before he can find a driver willing to help him board the bus. This influenced Kah Whye’s decision to stay in the West, despite having an option to stay nearer his workplace in the North – it is comparatively easier to take the MRT, which Kah Whye can board himself without aid. Still, the length of the journey and the need to wake up earlier to prepare for it translates into an overall lack of sleep for both Kah Whye and his caregiver (primarily his grandmother), especially on days when he attends Boccia trainings early in the morning.
Kah Whye is also concerned with the strain on his grandmother and father, who are his caregivers. His grandmother often wakes up early in order to help him prepare for his journey out and still has to juggle other familial commitments.
Kah Whye shared his experience of initial discomfort within society. People who see those with physical disabilities, Kah Whye shared, tend to stare, and the experience of being treated like an alien puzzled Kah Whye. However, Kah Whye’s teacher proved a source of guidance, giving him a valuable piece of advice – “How long can they stare? One or two days, but not forever. Just let them stare.” This has helped Kah Whye greatly, and the stares now no longer bother him. Still, as Kah Whye shares, people with physical disabilities are often given pejorative nicknames and/or are on the receiving end of intrusive stares, much like Kah Whye has been. It is a wholly discomforting experience.
In relation to his status as a Boccia national athlete, Kah Whye feels that few people know what Boccia is, despite Team Singapore’s success in Boccia. Many ask him about the sport, but few understand even after Kah Whye explains the sport to them. Kah Whye hopes that more Singaporeans will come to know about Boccia and understand that it is a sport that takes effort and skill, and that they will see Team Singapore’s success in Boccia over the competitions to come.
Hopes and Dreams
Kah Whye hopes to win a medal in a Boccia competition soon. He has his eyes on the world rankings, and looks to be among the top 10 ranked players in future.
Moreover, Kah Whye hopes to bring the sport to more people, particularly the elderly and children. As he shares, Boccia is established as a sport in places like Hong Kong, where Boccia was played among the elderly community. He hopes that the same can happen here, and that he can be part of the effort in spreading the word about Boccia. In future, he hopes that more participants in Boccia will mean more athletes for Team Singapore, and that the Singapore flag can be raised at all Boccia competitions.
Kah Whye, in concluding the interview, shared that only time can tell what he will have and what he will not. He has set his mind to working hard in order to achieve his goals, and will continue to do so.
Thank you for reading.
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