Photo courtesy of Irene Guo: The girls in this picture are wearing the IFG Team NUS Shirt

My Lord. Look at this picture. 

Everyone in this picture is smiling because we played good games of floorball that day against the other faculties.

Everyone but me.

I’m smiling because the shirt collector in me has been temporarily satiated. This TeamNUS shirt, I tell myself, will be the last time I hanker over a school shirt, even though I know that’s a complete lie. 

By the time most people enter university, they have realized that there is no point in buying every single shirt advertised to them. 

As is the case with most things, I am not like most people. I get a sinister thrill out of getting new shirts. I live for the excitement of people assuming I’m from another faculty. I can’t get enough of school shirts. 

I am aware of how I sound. With the TeamNUS shirt, it was love at first sight. The shirt condenses two facets of me, and shows the world that I am both a jock and a law student, thus giving them two reasons to hate me on sight. 

At time of writing, we are midway through the Inter-Faculty Games season. You can look up the victories our faculty brought home yourself, because that’s not the point of this article. Instead, this article explains two things: Why might someone feel drawn to collecting school shirts, and how might they go about getting one? 

Disclaimer

There are 2 types of TeamNUS shirts: One for varsity athletes, and one for the IFG players. I’m not stoking any embers here, but I’d go the leap and suggest that the varsity shirt carries a wink more prestige. You can tell just by the design.

For one, it’s in a soothing navy color, with a shiny gold font. The IFG shirts’ colors depend on which faculty you’re playing for. Pictured are a varsity shirt, my own IFG shirt, and a chart of the different faculties’ IFG shirts. 

Our faculty got a pretty good deal, in my opinion – I like the soothing navy, and the lighter blue just gives us a very, to quote a teammate, “beta” vibe. I don’t want to know what that means, so I’m going to assume it’s something good. 

Photo courtesy of Celine Siah: The NUS varsity athlete shirt

Photo courtesy of Nadine Lee

Photo courtesy of NUS 

Part I – The Mind of a Lunatic 

Full disclosure: I’ve bought the King Edward VII Hall shirt, the Eusoff hall shirt, and the Business shirt, despite belonging to none of those places. I’m still on the hunt for the NUS LAW shirt that everyone seems to be wearing that I have no idea how to procure. I have an NTU 2019 Orientation shirt I thrifted at Lucky Plaza. 

I decided to interview a lunatic to figure out her thought process: Why, exactly, does she love school shirts so much? Why does she offer to trade her spare shirts with people from other faculties? For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call her Nadine. 

Q: Surely you can’t want every school shirt in existence. 

Nadine: I do. 

Q: Like, all of them? What if they’re kind of ugly, or super expensive? 

Nadine: Don’t care.

Q: You’re a sick, sick person. 

The interview ends here. 

Part II – How to Get the Shirt

The author sincerely apologizes for the uncooperative interviewee. In this section, I’ll bring you through how exactly you’re going to get your grubby little paws on an IFG shirt.

Method One – Becoming a varsity athlete 

Difficulty: Extremely high 

Reward: Extremely high 

You know how Simone Biles started gymnastics at six, and that was already considered late? Yeah. It might be difficult to go from nothing to a soccer star in time for the constrictive IFG window. Sorry. 

But I did engage in a discussion with a varsity athlete friend of mine to go digging for more info. She slipped up (just as I intended!) and said: You don’t have to be the best. You just need to go and compete. 

As the author understands it, there are a variety of sports you could go for. Team sports, obviously, require some selection before you’re bestowed the Shirt, but individual sports, less so. It’s entirely possible to go for a varsity Chess match with no knowledge of chess, and still get the shirt. There you go. The top-tier of TeamNUS shirts, all yours. Maybe it’ll be matted with tears after you lose every match against NTU, but hey! Shirts can be washed!

Method Two – Becoming an IFG athlete

Difficulty: Depends on gender + sport

Reward: High

Becoming an IFG athlete might sound daunting, especially if you’re male, since the spots for the male sports are usually oversubscribed. There’s not much to be done about that, honestly; Just beg and cry until the captain lets you in. 

After a discussion with a certain IFG captain, he confirmed that co-ed and female sports usually are undersubscribed. The author personally was de-facto accepted into the Dodgeball IFG team on account of her feminine existence.  

Photo courtesy of Celina Eu: To clarify, the author was the only girl accepted because no one else applied. The other two girls are great.  

In various conversations with the Law IFG Captains, here’s what I’ve gleaned–

– The IFG period is a very hectic and short one. It’s fine even if you don’t have experience, as long as you show up to training sessions. This shows that you’re committed and lets them see how you fare in “battle”. 

– Skills are transferable. If you played basketball in secondary school, see if you can laterally transfer over to something like handball or dodgeball! 

– Remember, these captains are still human, so just befriend them and ask them how you can improve.

With that, you’ve made it in and got the shirt. Unless… you didn’t get in, and here you stand, hands clasped in prayer with no shirt bequeathed. 

Method Three – Crime

Difficulty: Exceedingly high

Reward: Exceedingly tentative

If the captains agreed on anything, it’s that crime is wrong, which is encouraging coming from future lawyers. 

With that, if your only goal is to get your hands on a shirt… well. I’m sure there’s extras somewhere. Student X mentioned that there are always leftovers after the IFG season is over – network, network, network your way to those extras. They’re probably going to be extremely small or extremely large, but who cares? You got the shirt!

Except that when you get to the Law Club room, after having LinkedIn your way into an opportunity, you’ll find the Sports Directors blocking your path. I refer to the Election Rally speeches from the 43rd Law Club’s Sports Directors. (At time of writing, the elections are underway, so this is your last chance to get politically involved.) 

Moderator: How would you deal with people asking for partial treatment? [Candidate], let’s say a… member comes and asks you for an extra IFG shirt.

Candidate A: The answer is pretty clear: sorry, I can’t give you extra shirts. But I know the other captains will have shirts (…) maybe you can play for that sport as well. 

Candidate B: I’ll just say I cannot give you the shirts. 

Candidate C: Just because you have more friends doesn’t mean you should get preferential treatment. 

Candidate D: The answer is no (…) I don’t think I need to explain too much. (…) Keep the shirts securely locked up, and not available for anyone to just come in and take. 

There you have it. 

Part III

On a more mushy note, IFG is absolutely worth it, if not just for the shirt. I mean, yes, I joined for the shirt. But lots of great stuff (refer to the photos above) transpired as a result of it, too! The author highly recommends that shirt-fiends and shirt-haters alike participate in IFG as much as they can. 

Go forth and shirt-hoard. I really need to donate some of my clothes. 

Photo courtesy of Irene Guo

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