The high baller

Chong looks up to her elder sister when it comes to sports and leadership. – Sunpix by Shahril Basri
She said dodgeball has a lot to do with strategy, not just throwing and catching. – Sunpix by Shahril Basri

BORN to athletic parents, Chong Hwei Xian is no stranger to sports. And thanks to her elder sister who used to bring her along to volleyball, basketball and badminton trainings, Chong got to dabble in different kinds of sports and naturally, became acquainted with the game of dodgeball.

“I read in the newspapers that dodgeball was being introduced in universities. I was really excited and researched on where I could play. As a sportsperson, I love trying new things.

“And I knew the risk of getting hit by the ball, especially in the face. It would hurt, but no pain, no fun I guess,” said the 24-year-old.

Dodgeball quickly became Chong’s passion, as she went on to lead the women’s national team and won the 2016 Dodgeball World Championships held in Melbourne, Australia. That marked the very first win for team Malaysia in the sport.

How is dodgeball different from the other sports you have played?

For dodgeball, a lot of people think it’s just throwing and catching. They don’t see the strategy involved. But as you play and get competitive, that’s when you start thinking of ways to win. For example, how do I make the opposing team dodge towards the left? How do I make my teammate eliminate the other team as fast as possible? Things like that.

When did you start thinking of your own strategies to win a game?

When I first played dodgeball, I went straight into competitive mode. As an athlete, I always want to be the best. I suppose that’s the mentality I bring with me often; when I do something, I want to be the best. So when I have a strategy in mind, I’d share on how we should play, tactics to use, and so on.

Would you say that this mentality was something that was honed because you’ve played sports all your life?

I’ve always followed in my sister’s footsteps; she has that leadership quality in her. When I played basketball back then, I was also the captain. In most of the sports that I play, I have that leadership quality. I want to be a part of the game plan so I’m always sharing tips and I guess people think of that as a leadership value.

Have you always looked up to your sister when it comes to leadership? What’s your relationship with her like?

Yes, but I’d say it was tough love. She’s three years older than me so when we were younger, she’d bring me along to her trainings. She’d teach me how to play badminton so she would have someone to train with.

I learnt a lot from my sister; she’s a good role model. It’s both a good and bad thing. While I can learn from her mistakes, sometimes I want to make my own mistakes. I like to think that maybe I can do it, and I want to prove it. But I’d move on if I realise for myself that it is a mistake.

When you entered the finals in the Dodgeball World Championships, did you expect to win?

Actually, the women’s team almost didn’t make it to the finals due to a shortage of funds. The plan was to only send the men’s team. But we fought hard and argued that both men’s and women’s teams have always snagged podium prizes.

It was mind-blowing to win the gold medal. We really fought it out and played our best – we just didn’t know that doing our best would lead us to win.

TRIVIA

Favourite music genre: Indie.

Sport she wants to master: Rock climbing.

Favourite meal of the day: Breakfast.

Cuisine to master: Indian.

Favourite athlete: Mixed martial artist Conor McGregor.