Archive for May 28th, 2014

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid


In the 1950s, all ACS Primary School pupils underwent a compulsory PT class every week which took place between Monday and Thursday but not on Friday morning because it was a Chapel period (that is another story). Most pupils did not have affluent parents and there were no sport gears to be worn including Track shirts and pants, shorts, shoes, or towels. Although there was one or two exceptions, every pupil came to school dressed in their white shirt and white shorts. Most of the pupils came in canvas shoes (the cheapest) with or without socks. These canvas shoes can be really “stinky poo” but it can be washed, dried, a white washed with some white liquid. At PE, every one took their shirts off and there was no towel to wipe your sweat nor did anyone had a shower after PE. You sweat and you dry up and you put your shirt back on and off you go to your classroom. The only comfort was the class ceiling fan which rotated at full speed, with the spindle gyrating and waiting to fly off the ceiling mount. (Aside: Some years later, some genius monkey put an unusual looking balloon on the fan blade!! LOL). On looking back, it was wise to have PT classes in the first period otherwise the heat would be unbearable. Interesting enough, when it rains after PE, one could catch a cold in the classroom under the ceiling fan.

Some PT masters were good and they were sportsman themselves. Others who were not sportsman and they went through the drill without much enthusiasm. There were no women PT instructors. Just imagine how the boys would react to a female teacher in shorts and T shirt! (Ask the boys who did the mirror in the shoe trick!!!)

The PT equipment was very simple and they were stored under the staircase office (ground floor, southern block, Main Building) of the Discipline Master, Mr Aw Boon Jin. Lo Mo was his counterpart in the high school. I was never canned by Mr Aw because he told me he knew my father as an old boy in ACS Ipoh. The PT equipment was mainly made of rattan, and two popular items were requisition from the office, ie. A rattan ball or two, (smaller than an average soccer ball), several hula hoops (a circular hoop made of rattan) and some skipping ropes. I often volunteered to bring those equipment for the class for a good reason. After the PT class, I would have the opportunity to roam around the school before returning to the classroom and the teacher in the next period would never question where I have been. Or perhaps they knew and kept a blind eye.
On the main field, surrounded by Tembusu trees along the west side, palm trees on the south side, main building on the east side and the “new” building on the north, several classes would have their 45 mins PT period at the same time. It was one hour after sunrise and the air was still cool. The PT class usually began with simple exercise of the neck and the arms with counting of 1, 2, 3 & 4. Leg exercise usually “running on the spot” or freelance running on the field. The next exercise would involving bending down and touching your legs with your fingers and then swinging your hips to allow the right fingers to touch your left foot and vice-versa. This was a strenuous exercise and one can cheat by bending your knees! This only worked if you were positioned at the back of the pack. More strenuous exercise like doing push ups were the forte of the physically stronger boys but not the author.

After the physical exercise, we were allowed to play games with the rattan equipment. The rattan hoops were used to practice gyrations of the hips (doing a hula hoop, Hawaiian style). It was amazing that one could keep the gyration for a long period. I used to be able to do that and in trying to teach my grandchildren how to do it. I failed miserably as the hoop stayed for two revolutions!

The most exciting game played was the passing of the ball. Each side had a person inside the rattan hoop and his job was to receive the ball from his team in order to score. The class was divided into two sides, and the teacher picked the members of each side. The game began in the middle with the teacher throwing up the rattan ball and two boys would attempt to capture it. As you cannot run with the ball, you had to pass it to your team members. The idea is to get the ball near your team member in the rattan hoop. Of course, each player was marked by the other team member and they can block and take the ball away. This game is very close to the ladies net ball game. In netball, the ball is placed in the net (hoop) to score whilst this game would require your team member in the hoop to catch the ball. No one knew that the game was a “kind” of netball otherwise it would have been labelled a “sissy” game and no one would play it. Ignorance is bliss and we enjoyed the game! Of course, there was no kicking allowed.

In retrospect, we were fortunate to have physical education embedded in our minds during our younger days and the proverb “All study and no play, makes Jack a dull boy”. The PT classes of ACS had its humble beginnings but its effect on its pupils who benefitted from this education have lasted a life-time. Thank you to those PT teachers. You did your best with the minimal material support and your improvisations to make it enjoyable for us to remember it for the rest of our lives.

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

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