WE ARE COBRATS
by Don Dinkums
Cobrats attended its’ first tournament of the year recently and turned up with 7 teams in various age groups. The teams were for U6, U7, U8, U10, U12, U14 and U16 age groups playing in the KL Saracens International 10s at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club. That translates to approximately 100 players in Black and Gold. A lot of players, yes all well and good, but this time with a historic mark for the club. That historic mark saw the Cobrats Penang chapter travelling down to combine with its KL brethren for its first ever tournament.
It begged quite a few questions as much as they share the base DNA, can the 2 chapters combine for the better? Will issues like chemistry and ego get in the way? Different coaching methods, personalities and style etc.
But as the weekend turned out, the base DNA of Cobra held strong which is: To enjoy the positives and more importantly, work constructively towards sorting out the negatives.
As you may not be aware of, the Penang coaches were pretty much handing over their kids to the hands of the KL coaches to play them as they saw fit. The Penang parents who came down also had to have a lot of faith that their boys could integrate. The kids themselves who are coming down for the first time will also need adjusting to a new environment. For a kid, it can be very daunting.
Especially the one joining the U10 team. Other teams had a few Penang kids joining but in this particular case, it was just him alone. However, after the initial nerves, he came around and found himself on the starting team in several games. According to reports, after 2 phases of forward play, the ball went “hands” down the backline with the Penang Kid finishing with a try!
All in all, the Penang kids took to the tournament like Ducks to Water. They proved they have been coached well and that they are very, very capable if not more than.
The tournament saw a lot of teams from all over the region with the usual teams from Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong. It also saw a team from New Zealand. It says a lot about the tournament when big teams are keen to participate. If you were there, the tournament was really top notch especially when it came to time-keeping. For a tournament hosting over 200 hundred games in 2 days and it only ran over by maybe 5 minutes. SALUTE!
In this tourney, apart from chapter integration, it’s also about the club’s new coaches leading their young charges like in the U8, U7 and U6 age groups. Coach Izan who took up coaching the U8 for a several months, took the field with the U8 in his first ever tournament as coach. They ended up winning the Saucer Cup. The same team who challenged the competition in Centaurs last December. It’s nice to see improvement in the kids.
The U6 kids brought on an unexpected surprise. Alongside rookie coach May Anne and with half the team new to the game, Coach Shara managed to lead the team to become Saucer Cup Champions! The kids were very delighted to win medals but even more delighted were the parents!
One of the great things about the Cobrats are the enthusiasm of the parents
“Oi! You got a problem?” “Yea you!” “What? Who do you think you are?!” “Yea, get off! It ain’t 6 nations!”
A little too enthusiastic as when one of the U6 parents (from Hong Kong! NOT Cobrats) decided to step on to the pitch to complain to the referee. The “Enthusiasm” was rather infectious as another U6 Parents (THIS time from Cobrats) took offense to anyone abusing a match official.
“Guys! It’s only U6!” “Go to the Tent! Grab a cold one!” Coincidentally parents from Cobrats and Hong Kong as well, trying to pacify the “Over Enthusiastic Ones”.
The tournament had quite the F & B set up with a variety of choices and good quality too. Open throughout the day, it became the spot for visitors, coaches, parents and players to get together for an end of day party. As fun as the tournament was, it can take a toll on you. A physio-therapy tent came in very handy for Cobrats U8 Team Manager Rachel. After running about fussing over her team, her legs finally gave way and she had to be treated at one of these tents. Even then, physically she may have been down, but not her spirit!
It’s tough to keep spirits up with the stiff competition the Cobrats teams had to face. In U14 age group, Coach Felix had quite a task. If you check the facebook post, one of the parents had to say this:
“The U14 Cobrats comes together for the first time. A scratch team put together in less than 24 hours. A team that went from beginners to war veterans in 2 days…Thank You Coach Felix for turning the boys into warriors!”
The U12s were hit pretty hard. It was close to being a scratch team as it had several Penang kids mixing in. Being younger and less experienced, you need a lot more time to find the chemistry. Other teams capitalised on that and against more organised teams, it’s going to be difficult to keep composure when you are 5 tries down. A hard learning experience of which they will have to work hard to make amends.
The U10s team were not a scratch team but they had to deal with their own heartache. Against the more composed Singaporean teams, they got mauled badly. At so young an age, their spirits were tested because they could play well one game and poor the next. In a semi-final game where they looked good enough to win, they cracked and lost. Even the U10 coaches spirit were tested too as after the semi-final loss, Coach Adrian, was so gutted, he had to step aside on his own to collect himself. He left Coaches Dillan and SP to conduct the post-game talk.
In the last game for 11th place (out 16), the U10s found themselves down by 2 tries. Somehow or rather, these kids stayed strong, kept their spirits up and came back to score 4 tries to win the game. They also did it playing good rugby. After the game, Coach SP with a mix of frustration and joy goes “THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD PLAY! THEN I DON’T HAVE TO SHOUT SO MUCH!” (From what I hear, parents call him the Loud Coach. So no surprises there.)
It was a great tournament experience for the Cobrats albeit with mixed results. The KL Saracens tournament was managed well from the quality of the teams, time management and to the ever subjective element of officiating. It was a great platform for teams like the Cobrats to focus on the rugby and have a great time. It was also a great moment for the Cobrats program as it signified how much the Penang chapter has grown. It also marked the first tournament where the Cobrats’ Head Administrator Annette didn’t have to run around as much to keep her coaches in check.
“Everywhere we go, people wanna know,
Who we are, Where we come from!
“We are Cobrats, Mighty mighty Cobrats!”