For the past 2 days I had the privilege of photographing the MSS Kapit inter-secondary school athletics tournament organised by SMK Selirik.
The primary schools had their inter-district athletics competition at the same time.
The weather was good & overall the event was pretty successful.
However, I did end up being escorted off the field. Not once, but twice!
Apparently, only SMK Selirik photographers were allowed inside. Not even the photographers from the Kapit Photography Club were allowed in. Esp not this measly unknown teacher from who cares where.
I think this is somewhat ridiculous. Sporting events like these need publicity. Esp when Sarawak is in dire need of talent to boost their lacklustre athletics performances.
I never got in the way of any event & I only spoke to my students. I only did so to ask them when they were on so that I could take their pictures for the school magazine.
When I asked if there was a person I could speak to for a pass, I was told by my escort, an AJK Keselamatan who was probably doing his job & wanting to get it over & done with, to approach their photographers & ask them to take the photos I wanted. Then, I had to write a letter to their school asking for the photographs. A phone call will not be enough. No such thing as a pass.
What nonsense is this? I was willing to stand under the blazing sun to take the best pictures possible while the organiser's photographers dressed up nicely & sat in the shades taking pictures from a distance. Who actually deserves the exclusivity? Amazing how bureaucracy can be so conveniently used to subdue me.
It would have worked on a lesser man.
After receiving such an unsatisfactory response, they will have to learn that I cannot be subdued. I have travelled too far & spent too much money to be sitting in the shade & taking pictures from afar. I do what I do with a passion & I don't mind the embarrassment of being escorted out of the field again & again to get the photographs I needed.
My face & reputation is the least of my worries. Passion, determination & fruitfulness is far greater.
If anybody from the organisers or future organisers are reading this, PLEASE allow each participating school 1 photographer. The Kapit Photography Club should be allowed 1 too.
Then, the school photographers can learn from the club photographer.
A win-win situation. No need to trouble your AJK Keselamatan with stubborn idealists like myself.
Anyway, I've got something more important to share.
My heart totally went out to the small contingent of 8 primary school athletes from the extremely rural district of Belaga.
For them to get to Kapit, they had to ride on a land cruiser & then a boat. It took them around 12hrs! Think of their transportation costs! No wonder they were such a small group!
Although their group was small, they won or nearly won every event they took part in.
I felt for them during the closing ceremony when they were called up to receive the 3rd place trophies.
There were only 3 districts taking part so their lack of participation = a lack of points = instant 3rd place position for every age category awarded.
Imagine the torment these young pupils had to go through to walk all the way up to the rostrum multiple times to receive a trophy they & everyone else in the stadium so clearly knew that they didn't deserve.
Imagine how they felt when they looked around to find that nobody was interested in taking their photographs.
One of the pupils even said "thank you" for the trophy even though it was clear that nobody cared to listen.
But I did.
When I heard that, I my heart broke & I realised I was too late.
I also missed a few of the earlier ones.
After that, I took photographs of every one their representatives.
I even used a really bright flash to show that I was there. Soon other photographers followed suit.
It takes one to make a difference in the lives of young children. I'm glad I was there to my bit.
I pray that you will not let your aspirations be limited by your background or how others think of you.
I wish I could do more for you. I wish I had done more for you...
Friends, let's watch over children like these & encourage them before they are hardened by time.
SMK Song are the champion this year.
SMK Katibas got second place... AGAIN.
hahaha~~ It's still an achievement nonetheless.
Unofficial results: 20+ Gold, 30+ Silver & 10+ Bronze.
Many of you really did give it your all.
I could see that every time you collapsed in exhaustion or cringed in pain.
I'm deeply impressed & very proud of you!
ps: SMK Selirik. You'll receive a letter from me very soon.
I hope your photographers are as good as they look.
Or did they even take the photos I requested?