School sports: RI's Jonathan Chua praised for rejecting penalty with team trailing

Raffles Institution's Jonathan Chua (green jersey) battling for possession against Temasek Junior College players during their 3-1 win yesterday, which ensured that RI move on to the Schools National A Division semi-finals.
Raffles Institution's Jonathan Chua (green jersey) battling for possession against Temasek Junior College players during their 3-1 win yesterday, which ensured that RI move on to the Schools National A Division semi-finals.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

As a striker, Raffles Institution's (RI) Jonathan Chua is expected to score goals. However, his refusal to score one has earned him the most praise instead.

In the 78th minute of last Friday's Schools National A Division boys' quarter-final round-robin match against Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC), Jonathan was awarded a penalty but told the referee it was a mistake. The referee changed her decision, and RI, which trailed 2-1 at that point, went on to lose 3-1.

The defeat had kept RI second in the four-team quarter-final group on three points. With both Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) and Temasek Junior College (TJC) on one point, the race to finish in the group's top two to make the semi-finals remained open.

A win in RI's final quarter-final group game against TJC yesterday, giving them six points, will guarantee passage to the semi-finals.

And win they did, beating TJC 3-1, with Jonathan scoring his seventh goal of the competition, after taking on two defenders in a dribble and blasting home.

RI will face defending champions Meridian Junior College in the semi-finals, while ACJC will play Victoria Junior College .

 

When asked about his actions last Friday, the 17-year-old Jonathan said: "I wasn't expecting a penalty but the referee gave it. I was very sure that (the ACJC defender) didn't touch me."

Jonathan, who had scored against ACJC as well, turned down the referee's call without his team- mates knowing what transpired.

He said: "I don't think I had to speak to my team-mates about it. It was something that, whether or not if I consulted them, it wouldn't have changed my decision. For anybody, they'll be disappointed initially but I think all of them understood and they agreed with what I did."

Jonathan's act of honesty came to light after local sports media outlet Red Sports reported about the incident on its Instagram account. Among the plaudits he received on Instagram was from one of the ACJC footballers, who thanked him for his courage.

Said RI's assistant coach Lawrence Sunderaj: "These are values we try to impart to the kids. I think the morale of the team has been lifted because of this incident.

"They want to win the right way. There's a strong sense of unity among them and hopefully they can go on to win the championship and do it in the right spirit."

Jonathan's team-mates were also behind him in his decision, despite the eventual loss. Said Raffles vice-captain Edward Quah: "If we win, we want to win fairly. We don't want to do it through dirty tactics and make sure to deserve our win.

"We fully supported Jonathan then and even now, no matter the results achieved."

His actions also did not escape his parents, who were watching on the sidelines on Friday.

When it was pointed out to his father Wesley that the deeds of his son had impressed many, he said: "I'm impressed too."

He added: "I'm really proud of him."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Jonathan praised for rejecting penalty with team trailing'. Print Edition | Subscribe