TEAMWORK: What does it really mean to Dragon Boaters?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, teamwork is defined as “the activity of working well together as a team.” The definition may sound as simple as it may seem, but what does it ‘really’ mean in the context of dragon boating?

We’ve asked a good mix of world and regional level paddlers and coaches of different age and racing classes, ranging from Premier (open age group), Senior A (40+), and U24 (Under 24’s) to define Teamwork in their own words.

Albeit unintentionally, we have given them a hard task of providing us with just one word or up to one sentence response only; and based on their actual experiences and involvement in the team sport of dragon boat, they shared their personal and honest-to-goodness definition.

Quite astonishingly, we have (re)discovered such beautiful and inspiring meanings to it. Let’s take inspiration from these athletes and coaches, on how they perceive, employ, utilise and value the importance of this rather not-so-simple compound word.

Alexandre Cheng

“Teamwork is collaboration between individuals whose result is greater than what the individuals can accomplish individually. Teamwork is beautiful.” – Alexandre Cheng, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Nutcharat Ying

“In my experience, the meaning of team work means we trust in ourselves, we trust in our team and we believe we can do it.” – Nutcharat Ying, Thailand Dragon Boat Team

Allan Nguyen

“Teamwork is sacrificing and compromising for others to achieve a common goal.” – Allan Nguyen, USA National Team

Manuel Maya

“It’s hard for me to define it in just one word. Teamwork is unity, harmony, trust in your own ability and the individual abilities of each team member. Hindi mananalo ang team kung wala tiwala sa sarili at sa teammates. Kahit ang pinakamahinang member ng team napakahalaga nila.” (The team can never win if members don’t have trust on themselves and their teammates. Even the weakest member of the team is very important.) – Manuel Maya, Philippine Dragon Boat Team/Coach

Shanice Ng

“One word: Camaraderie.” – Shanice Ng, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Francis Lucas Dragon Boat

“Teamwork to me is putting yourself second and putting your teammates first. To trust them to achieve a common goal.” – Francis Lucas, Canadian National Team

Dennis Wright

Teamwork in the dragon boat sense is: The cooperation of all boating members to dissolve individual egos in order to become a single body that is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Dennis Wright, Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team

Curtis Guinn

“To me, teamwork is the whole group coming together for the same goal. But it’s not just the people you see out front; it’s all of the people playing different parts behind the scenes that aren’t noticed right away. It’s in knowing that in your heart that you may not be where the team needs you to be and be willing to step back for someone else but still being ready to go when the group needs you. It’s everyone back home pushing this core group to be better everyday even if they aren’t a part of it themselves.” – Curtis Guinn, USA National Team

Rhowie Enriquez

“Teamwork is working together in any activity for the benefit and progress of the team.” – Rhowie Enriquez, Philippine Dragon Boat Team

 Jonathan Navarro

“I define teamwork as the complete and total summation of actions and decisions made by the members of a team–collectively and individually that contribute towards achieving a specific goal.” – Jonathan Navarro, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Moonkasem Pranchalee Dragon Boat

“My own personal definition of teamwork means that the team which comes from love and harmony, while helping each other and do the things that you get assigned.” Moonkasem Pranchalee, Thailand Dragon Boat Team

Loh Zhiying

“Teamwork = commitment + intensive training + a common goal (shared among the team).” Loh Zhiying, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Melanie Marquez Dragon Boat

“Teamwork is when everyone works together, but it starts when everyone makes a personal commitment towards the team’s goal.” – Melanie Marquez, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Ben Dal Broi

“My experience of teamwork in Dragon Boats? Simple… Just shut up and do what the sweep tells you.” Ben Dal Broi – Australian Dragon Boat Team

Amihan Zapanta Arroyo Dragon Boat

“Teamwork for me, especially as a dragon boater, would have to be about the unification of a people for a common goal. And you don’t see that illustrated more purely than in dragon boat, because in order to cross the finish line you truly need each and every person.” – Amihan Zapanta Arroyo, USA National Team

Harland Baraquero

“Teamwork is the navigator and it’s the beauty of dragon boat.” Harland Baraquero, Former Philippine Dragon Boat Team/Coach

Raymond Kiang

“Being in a team sport, the most essential factor is to have everyone steered towards the same goal–goals which include a spectrum of macro to micro goals. Definitely there will be differences in opinion and it is important to have everyone on the same page. Teamwork is also self accountability to the team where you try your best to contribute to the bigger picture. In an individual sport, you can afford to plan your own schedule or make up for training yourself but this is not possible in a team sport.” – Raymond Kiang, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Damaris Claudio Dragon Boat

“Teamwork is when all team members collaborate giving the best of their performance to achieve the goal and together celebrate the work done.” – Damaris Claudio, Puerto Rico Dragon Boat Team

Riza Canonoy

“Unity and teamwork is important especially in a team because without it you will not achieve your goal. For example, when our team is focused on a certain programme today, it requires everyone to be united in following and doing it; when others did not perform well, we need to do it again and again until we have perfected it.” – Riza Canonoy, National Athlete – Philippine National Dragon Boat Team

Tek Li

“Teamwork is being vulnerable together, trusting one another. Trusting one another to enhance your strengths and to support your weaknesses. Teamwork is being humble if you think you know it already. Teamwork is being courageous to ask questions if you don’t know it.” – Tek Li, USA National Team


In any dragon boat team, there are several factors that need to be considered and developed to ensure the team’s success, some of the key ones are: the attitude of members when it comes to cooperation; the amount (and sincerity) of commitment; learning levels and learning skills of members, the interpersonal relationship within the team, and, of course, leadership.

While you consider these facets and take tips and lessons from our featured athletes, even though each of us may have our own brilliant definition of what teamwork means, the right formula for a successful teamwork can only be defined and be understood by your team and your team alone.

Photo Credits: Respondents’ own, Ed Nguyen Photography, Michael Daniel Photography, JhanPhilipCo Photography, T & M Photography, Under Armour


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POEM: Into the Dragon’s Lair
The Future of Dragon Boat
25 Things Only Dragon Boaters Understand

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