15 Motivational Tools from Incredible Dragon Boat Captains

This appears to be yet another random “List Post” from List Blogs that we often encounter online, say, from BuzzFeed or Lifehack. Well, apparently, it is! Only this time, it contains real experiences and genuine wisdom shared by Dragon Boat Captains who I admire and respect in my dragon boating life in Singapore.

In anticipation of the upcoming Singapore Dragon Boat Festival, I have asked Team Captains from various dragon boat teams based in Singapore and each of them has shared their method or style of leadership. While these amazingly inspiring captains have different styles in leading, inspiring and motivating their teams, at the end of the day, it’s really all about the camaraderie, unity, fitness, enjoyment and the love of the sport.

dragon boat singapore

1. Leadership style has to be authentic

One Team Captain said, “I think it’s very important in dragon boat, as in other sports that the Captain leads from the front. This means that he/she needs to be one of the top paddlers (not necessarily the absolute top time trialist, but definitely one of the top group), and have been paddling for long enough to have the experience, technique and know how to lead the others.”

2. Set an excellent example

He continued: “They need to be willing to put in the hours required, ideally being at every session so that they become the main stay or pillar around which the rest of the team can be built. They need to be mindful of others and the team dynamic and to encourage others through talk and action. They should know the individuals within the team and always work to encourage and push them to improve.

3. The Captain’s role

The role is very different to a coach or team manager. The coach manages technique and strategy, the manager the logistics. The Captain needs to inspire those around him to train harder, push harder, to never give up and to always chase victory.“, he ended with this (but asked not-to-be-named).

I am a big fan of this team’s passion, unity and strength! (All my loudest virtual cheers to its Captain and members!)

dragon boat singapore

4. Be united

Formerly called, Okinawa Dragonboat Club, headed by Ex-Captains Kei Iwamoto and Noriko Yoshimura, the all-new Japan Dragons is now blessed with the leadership of Shingo Ogi. New name, new captain; same united team.

He said that changing the name was his first job. “Everybody knows previous name is Okinawa Dragonboat Club but Okinawa is only one of the prefectures in Japan.” He wants to carry his country’s name to be able to attract many Japanese paddlers to join the team. (Of course other nationalities are welcome as well).

5. Goal setting

The challenge of getting more new members has not prevented the team to continue on and train to be strong and united and as Team Captain, he believes in setting goals for the team and its members.

6. One for all, all for one

Team sports means: One of all, all for one.” The team targets to join the SDBA-AustCham 10K challenge and is also preparing for the 200m sprint races in November 2014. As Team Captain, he thrives to be impartial and wants to hear every member’s opinion on the training program and what are the areas to be improved. They organise BBQ Parties, Game Nights and other social activities. “Get more training to gain more stamina.” Less (words) is indeed more for Captain Ogi San!

dragon boat singapore

7. Passion is contagious

“Emails and words alone may work in offices, but not on the water and definitely not on race day.” – Tharin Walker

Ex-Captain of the American Team (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012), Tharin shared: “Leadership by example is a common phrase, but it’s extremely meaningful in Singapore dragon boat clubs. In jobs or military service, there are factors like pay and promotion. In our teams, these factors simply don’t exist. If the leadership of a team wants members to put their time, their energy and their hearts into the more or less year-round season we have here, then they must set the example they want club members to emulate.

8. Learning cross-cultural leadership

As a former captain of my own team, Tharin has been an inspiration to me. Together with Wayne, Chris and John, Tharin has mentored me in so many ways during my term as Chairman of the International Dragon Boat Community (IDBC) Singapore. It was where I’ve witnessed his style of leading and representing the American Dragons Singapore, a team which is also composed of different nationalities. The ever fierce Captain Francisca Ferreira de Almeida took over in 2013.

dragon boat singapore

Our next featured Dragon Boat Captain is the Iron Lady and current President of the Filipino Dragons (Singapore) or FDS. Former FDS Women’s Captain, Michelle Nadal Balagot is known in the community as Mickee, she has been with the team since 2008. When the team was just starting, she assumed several roles including Membership Committee Head. Currently, Mickee is working closely with FDS Team Captains, Jaz Quevada and Jen Macapagal, and Assistant Captains Michael Bacareza and Marian Seva.

9. There’s time to rest and there’s time to party

WORD: “Get your well-deserved rest. It’s an early start tomorrow and we want everyone to be fresh and strong! Thinking of partying and drinking alcohol tonight? Think twice… you are important to the team. Don’t be a mess, be at your best!” Lino Arboleda Jr., Founding Team Captain of FDS, also reminds the members of this, especially when the team is preparing for big races.

10. Inspire and Transform

When asked about her style of leadership, she remarked: “I have a strong belief in the fact that as captains, we should first serve as role models to the team by being visible during trainings and manifesting discipline as an athlete. Although we are a club, it has been established that competitiveness comes alive each time we go for a race.

11. Keeping the Momentum Up

Having said that, we try to keep the momentum up by always giving a reminder to the team that we are one in going for the win and that we will have to work hard for it. It is always inspiring to look back on how the team started. We always have to recognize the fact that winning does not happen overnight, it is something a team should work hard for and that we have to accept and embrace every challenge that comes along our way because through that, we achieve excellence. Lastly, more than our arms and core… we do paddle with our HEARTS.”, Mickee ended.

dragon boat singapore

Our next Dragon Boat Captain is Marcin Czaplicki of the Spanish Armada. He is the successor of former Captain Unai Rodriguez. Marcin has been actively representing his team, along with Enzo Acerbi, in the IDBC Singapore.

12. Paddle as One

As Captain, Marcin said, “I tell them (team) that dragon boat is different from all other team sports. It is a sport where twenty two individuals have to become as one individual.

13. Sportsmanship = Victory

Marcin believes that the core (team officers) has to put everything that they can for the members. However, all the strokes that bring the team to victory are from all the paddlers. “In the end, the team’s victory is what you make of the training and the attitude before, during and after the races.

dragon boat singapore

One of my favourite teams in Singapore is the Dragon Riders. They are a close-knit bunch of happy individuals. Through IDBC, I met three of their secret weapons: Ka Lin, Connie and Yimin. Ka Lin Ng has been the Team Manager for the past two years after her stint as Women’s Captain. The Dragon Riders has three captains, they are: Senior Captain, Men’s Captain and Women’s Captain.

14. Open Communication

The Dragon Riders Captains wanted to share to us that, “We always aim to do our best for the team above the individual. We lead by example, show genuine care, concern and respect for one another, maintain open and personal one on one communication with all members to build an all-inclusive team and encourage all to win collectively.

15. Reaching Out

Ka Lin remarked: “Having a good working committee to provide/listen up for feedback, reaching out to members and managing team operations are the keys to maintaining team comfort.

dragon boat singapore

I would like to thank you, the reader, dragon boater or supporter, for taking time to read (and hopefully share) this post. The Dragon Boat Team Captains featured here were kind enough to share to us their own methods of leading and inspiring their teams.

Nonetheless, no matter what fashion they wield in order to encourage and inspire, be it during trainings or races, I guess more than keeping fit, being inspired and getting motivated; being in the dragon boat world helps strengthen our sense of cooperation and build good character, too. We learn more of the value of patience, practice and persistence.

Salute to our Dragon Boat Captains! Salute to us, and this big family of dragon boaters in Singapore.

All the best in the forthcoming #SDBF2014!


Photo Credits: Kelvin Pao (Spanish Armada); Samuel Kolehmainen (Gaelic Dragons)
Blog Masthead Design: Jay Valentine (Filipino Dragons)

Community Reminder: All activities in the reservoir are to be carried out only during daylight hours from 7am to 7pm.
Community Announcement: Please support our very own Dragon Boat Team Singapore on their journey to the SEA Games 2015! Recruitment is on, so register your interest HERE.

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One thought on “15 Motivational Tools from Incredible Dragon Boat Captains

  1. Pingback: 15 Motivational Tools from Incredible Dragon Boat Captains – theninjacaptain

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