The winners in the sporting excellence category say sport has helped them build their intelligence, self-esteem, communication and strategic thinking skills. We invited them to share their stories.
Winner: Phan Nguyen Mai Chi from Vietnam
Bringing a love of chess to Adelaide
Chi learnt to play chess with her father when she was only five years old and started playing competitively at age nine. She’s achieved significant success in national and international competitions in Vietnam and represented her university in Japan during her time studying there. Since arriving in Australia, Chi has continued her competitive chess career and is teaching young Adelaideans about the wonderful, intellectual sport of chess.
Why did you decide to study abroad in Adelaide?
I went to Japan to study for my bachelor’s degree and wanted to pursue my postgraduate studies overseas as well. I didn’t really know which country to go to. I was looking at Canada, Australia and others. My mum had been to Australia, and my friends who studied here told me it was a comfortable place to live. When I spoke with my agent, she suggested South Australia because the people are friendly, and the cost of living is lower. I’m glad I came to Adelaide as it’s not too crowded or noisy. It reminds me of the city where I lived in Japan.
Tell us what you love so much about playing chess.
I love everything about chess. You’re like a general in a battle. You devise strategies and tactics to win over your opponent. I’ve made some good friends through playing chess in Adelaide and interstate like when I went to play a tournament in Melbourne. It’s not as popular here as it is in Vietnam, but I hope it can prosper. It’s a very intellectual sport which teaches children to think with a logical mindset. I believe becoming a chess player is one of my best decisions so far. It’s enabled me to become a better person and be prepared for future challenges.
What tournaments have you played in Australia?
I joined my first tournament in January. It was the 2018 Australian Chess Reserves, and I won first prize. I’ve also played tournaments in South Australia, and I play on the weekends with other strong players, so we can learn from each other and continuously improve. I’d like to try for the Australian Chess Olympiad team in 2020. I’m also coaching a young student, and I hope to make more young people passionate about chess.
What does winning this award mean to you?
I was quite surprised and feel very happy about it. The recognition means a lot to me. I will try harder to help the younger generation by coaching and competing in tournaments. I want to contribute to chess in Australia.
What’s your favourite thing to do in your free time?
My favourite activities are reading, studying and playing the piano. I also like to do martial arts for exercise.
Highly Commended: Yongjun Ng from Malaysia
Yongjun has been part of South Australia’s Ultimate Frisbee community since he arrived in Adelaide in 2014. He’s represented South Australia in the Southern University Games and the Australian University Games. As a leader, Yongjun has provided coaching and player development for the University of Adelaide team as well as the Phoenix Ultimate club, the South Australia Under-22 men’s team and the Malaysian Summit of Australia (MASA) Games team.
Ultimate Frisbee is a fast, free-flowing game requiring teamwork to pass the frisbee up the field to be caught in the end zone. Due to the absence of referees, it relies on a spirit of sportsmanship and honesty to see the game come to a fair conclusion. Yongjun says playing Ultimate Frisbee has helped him develop skills such as leadership, communication and time management, as well as improving his self-esteem and providing a friendly community.