The first group we came across was a batch of debaters in 2004. They all had different characters but one little boy stood out. He was skinny, had a big head that didn't fit on top of his rather disproportionately long body for someone who was quite small and had a terribly short hair that made his pimples stood out. But from the very first day, it was quite obvious that he was smart. He prevailed in all the quizzes and before long, Bucks was quite a household name amongst the coaches.
By mid year he decided to quit the team that stunned all of us. I had to drive one weekend and he promises to meet me before inspection. I didn't put much hope that he would appear as kids his age don't really keep their words, but he did appear.
I could empathise with his reasons to quit but I made him to promise to come back when he reached Form 4. I didn't expect him to honour hos words but that was the only thing I could do to justify the long trip from KL, knowing that the team was as good as have lost him.
But Bucks did honour his words and did come back to the team. He was one of the smartest and wittiest kids I had coached, one of my favourites of all time.
In one debate, an opponent started a reply speech by using a football game as an analogy. He said that they scored the first goal with this argument, second goal the second points etc. By the time he was done with his reply speech, he said "4-NIL and we win" to the applause of the audience.
I did not panic but I did sweat a bit.
Bucks got up, looked nervous and innocent as always and started saying that he prefers rugby because it is a game of gentlemen, so let's keep the score by rugby rules instead.
So he started "First try, bla bla bla, 5-Nil, a conversion, bla bla bla, 8-0" and ended the reply speech with "20 something to Nil". The room exploded with applause and I think he did become the best speaker.
In another debate, he cracked a joke that the public is not interested whether a minister wears a pockadot boxer or a brief, when debating on the need for privacy for public figures. Innuendos become his trademark, after a while.
I have many ups and downs coaching the young people for a good part of my life but characters like Bucks remain as the best part of those years.
Every year, Bucks would never forget to send a card for my birthday even when I myself forget about it.
And each time I go through his cards over the years, I realise if there is one thing I miss from my previous life, I miss the joy of seeing great talents like Bucks grow up over the years.
The best thing is while everything else may change (the pimples, the lousy hair), he is still the same exact fragile kid I first met almost 8 years ago.
Good lucks Bucks and may you continue to be the kind kid you were, are and have always been.