Integrating into Singapore: Benefits of joining a dragon boat team

In this post, I write about the benefits of integrating into the community by joining a local dragon boat team.

A few years ago a friend and I were having a drink at a bar in Tanjong Pagar when we overheard Tagalog being spoken at a nearby table. Eventually one of the people at that table heard my friend and I speak in Tagalog too so she came over and introduced herself as the women’s captain of a local dragon boat team.

What happened next was something I never would have expected of myself. I signed up for a dragon boat team. Since moving to Singapore, much of my life has been work and home. Joining a dragon boat team changed all of that. I became inclined towards sports. I met many people with different professions. I felt like I was part of a community.

Here are the benefits of joining a dragon boat team.

  1. You develop your body.
  2. You develop your social skills.
  3. You build camaraderie.
  4. You get encouraged to cross-train and try out other sports.
  5. You participate in learning more about Singapore.

Developing your body. Joining a dragon boat team means you’ll be subjecting yourself to regular training. In my four years paddling, we only had a few weeks each year as off-season. The rest of the year was dedicated to training physically and mentally for dragon boat races.

I didn’t become a muscle stud by paddling (since I still have a full time job and I enjoy my beer), but I noticed my posture change. I enjoyed having a tan (if you don’t want a tan, wear a rashguard). My friends and family noticed I was leaner. I enjoyed this feeling.

Developing your social skills. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, joining a dragon boat team means you get to hone your social skills. You’ll have batch mates and you’ll form your own circles and friendships to interact with. You’ll meet people with different professions.

Building camaraderie. The dragon boat community in Singapore is tightly-knit. Whether you’re paddling within the expat teams or schools, when you spot someone on the MRT with their vest and paddle you know you’re paddling in the similar waters, climate, and races.

Cross-training and trying out other sports. Training with your dragon boat team means you’ll be exposed to try out related sports like outrigger canoeing, running, swimming, and weightlifting. Many of my teammates are triathletes. This is a great starting ground if you’re interested to continue sports.

Integrating into Singapore. I’ll emphasize a need for Filipinos to integrate into Singapore as best as possible. Go out there and meet other paddlers. Participate in races and get a feel of the dragon boat community.

The team that I signed up for was Filipino Dragons (Singapore) or FDS. They are an expat dragon boat team that welcomes all nationalities and backgrounds. Majority are Filipino but they have teammates from Singapore, Indonesia, United States, India, and more. I’ll recommend FDS but there are other expat teams too that you can join which have Filipinos in them too.

Of course, part of integration means being open to joining teams that are part of community clubs and schools in Singapore (if you’re eligible). Dragon boat doesn’t pick nationalities. It’s a fun and competitive team sport for everyone.

What sports are you interested in trying?

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Credits: Image of our dragon boat in action from Laurence Foo