“When I was in primary two, I had to join a school sport. Since rugby was a sport my brother and father used to play, I went with rugby. I mostly played for fun, but when I went to Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), I decided to play competitively, and I’ve not looked back since.

I find rugby to be a unique sport that allows me to express myself. It’s a sport of many skills you need footwork, endurance and hand-eye coordination and it gives me the opportunity to show people what I can do on the field.

During my last SEA Games in 2015, I was still in National Service. That was probably the best time to play rugby. I was a Special Constable Sergeant in the Airport Police Division, and once I was done with my duties for the day, I could just focus on training.

Two years have passed and I’m pursuing my degree now. I have way more commitments to juggle and it can be hard, but I think I’ve matured a lot as a person, so my time management is better. When I’m in school, I switch rugby off, but when I’m training, I give it my all.

Preparations for the 2017 SEA Games are going well. We just came back from our training tour which ended in Brisbane. We train six times a week, and we’ve maintained the frequency and intensity of our trainings since the new team was formed last December.

I was also made team captain last year. It’s definitely a child’s dream come true, but it wasn’t easy taking on the new role initially. The SEA Games squad is really young – most of us are under 23 – but my teammates really helped to ensure that the new members are well-integrated.

Goals for this year? We won bronze in 2015, so we definitely want to make it into the finals this time round. It’s a round robin competition, so we cannot slip up in any of our five matches. We’ll just have to focus on our game, one match at a time.

It was a great honour playing for our home crowd in 2015, but we’re playing in Malaysia this year. It won’t be easy because we know they’re going to be loud, so I really appreciate the support of my family and friends who are coming down to support us. It means a lot to me.” – Marah Ishraf, 23


Head down and support our rugby athletes at the 2017 SEA Games from 19th to 20th August in KL. For more info about the Singapore Rugby Union, visit:


Read our interviews with other SEA Games athletes here.


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Arman Shah

A former travel writer with fond memories of solo adventures in Southeast Asia, Arman is now Founder of The Everyday People. He's also the co-host of Channel Empathy, a podcast about the marginalised in Singapore.