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The Value of Competition

24 november 2016

This week we have hosted and participated in the FOBISIA U15 Games, a highly competitive sporting competition between some of the best international schools in SE Asia. It was quite awe inspiring to witness the sporting excellence of so many young athletes and to see the high level of determination and competitiveness that they brought to each match or event.

  • FOBISIA U15 Games

We are immensely proud of the BISS students who competed and celebrate the individual and collective success they achieved. They shone as athletes in every sense; demonstrating exceptionally high levels of physical fitness, mental strength, sport specific skills, team work and great sportsmanship. We are very proud of you all!

However, this success and sporting excellence has not been an easy journey and some may question whether the high number of training hours and the inevitable stress of this highly competitive event (and others like it) are really worth it. It raises questions about the nature of competition in children’s lives and whether it is good for them now or as a preparation for their grown-up lives.

At BISS Puxi, we do believe there is a place for competition in the lives of children and that much can be learned from competitive situations if they are well managed. Competition in itself is neither good nor bad, rather it is how we think about it, manage it and cope with it that makes it good or bad. We have to ensure that the importance of competition is not given a larger space in our lives than it deserves, or that winning is placed as the singularly most important thing. There is plenty of room for more than one person to be considered successful and we want all children to strive to be their best self rather than being better than others. When done purposefully and in a developmentally appropriate manner that places the needs of the children well ahead of winning, competition can and should be a great experience for children.

Competition can drive us to learn at a faster rate and perform at a higher level. When the competition event is on the horizon, we train harder and faster. We set training and achievement goals and then our performance in the competition helps provide progress checks on our goals. When we are playing a game, we push a little harder and we bring our best effort and in doing so we surprise ourselves of what we are capable of accomplishing. There is a saying that says “Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t want to do. That is why they are successful.” Building the habit of commitment is a wonderful by-product of being involved in competitive sports or other competitive events.

Competition also teaches us to manage our nerves, overcome our fears and learn to take risks. When the pressure is on and we are pushed out of our comfort zone, we have to learn to manage our nerves and focus on the task ahead. We have to pull from our previous learning and apply these practised skills and knowledge in the NOW. In doing so we can build our confidence to do things that are hard or uncomfortable and develop an incredibly useful skill-set that we can carry with us in life, helping in tricky situations such as taking exams, interviewing for jobs and giving presentations.

Of course when we enter a competition, things don’t always go our way. Sometimes we work hard, and still lose. Sometimes we win but still didn’t perform as we wanted to. When you develop a talent and work hard for a result, it feels great. When you fail and learn you that can bounce back, you feel more confident in yourself because you understand that you have resilience. We build self-esteem and grit in these moments and these are two traits that most certainly are essential in adulthood. We also learn to win and lose with grace as competition gives us the opportunities to cope with feelings of pride and disappointment and to learn to process them in healthy ways.

So, for each one of our Fobisia athletes, we congratulate you on your achievements and hope that you have grown through this amazing experience. And to all our other students who are engaged with their own competitive challenges, whether in competitive events or simply improving your personal best, we encourage you to work hard, be committed, be resilient, stay positive and most importantly to take happiness and joy in the activities that you are giving your time to.

Niki Meehan, Vice Principal