IASAS, the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asia Schools, began in the fall of 1982. The seeds of the organization, however, were planted long before that with sports competitions that were arranged between many of the international schools in the Southeast Asia region. For example, Singapore American School (SAS) and International School Bangkok (ISB) participated in an annual, multi-sport event called the Singapore-Bangkok Games which started in 1961. In 1980, the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) asked to participate in this event, creating what then became known as the Triangular Games. Thus it was around this time that the idea of forming an international school athletic conference began to develop.
It was probably at an EARCOS Conference in Hong Kong in 1981 that the idea of forming IASAS became a reality. Primarily spear-headed by the Heads of School from ISKL – Gail Schoppert, SAS – Mel Kuhbander, and Jakarta International School (JIS) – Everett Gould, there was expressed a desire to create an international athletics conference in the region. This organization was to be modeled after a similar conference that was active in South Asia, SAISA, which was familiar to some, as well as a conference in Europe that is still in operation, the ISST.
It wasn’t too long after that that the Activities/Athletic Directors from schools in the region met at the old Singapore American School campus on Kings Road tasked with creating the organization. Participating in this meeting were the AD’s from ISKL – Al Daniel and Dave Hagan, from SAS – K.S. Kasinathan and Dick Lewis, as well as representatives from JIS and ISB. The result, as we now know, was IASAS, which formally started in October of 1982 with four schools: JIS, SAS, ISKL and ISB. International School Manila (ISM) joined the conference the very next year, while Taipei American School (TAS) joined the group in 1986, creating the six-school conference that has flourished ever since.
In the early days the conventions included soccer and volleyball (first season), basketball and swimming (second season), softball and track and field (third season), as well as a cultural convention (dance, drama, debate, forensics, music and art) and a mathematics competition. Over the years, various activities were added to the agenda, and today the wide-ranging IASAS activities include:
- 1st Season: Cross-Country, Soccer, Volleyball
- Model United Nations
- 2nd Season: Basketball, Rugby/Touch, Swimming, Tennis
- Cultural Convention: Art-Drama-Dance, Forensics-Debate, and Music
- 3rd Season: Badminton, Baseball/Softball, Track & Field, Golf
- Math Contest, Film Festival & Chess [non-travel activities]
For everyone involved, students, coaches, administrators, parents and community members alike, IASAS is one of the most memorable times of any school year. Now in its 37th year of existence and widely recognized as one of the most robust international school conferences in the world, we can only thank those who came before and helped to create such a remarkable organization. We certainly hope that it will continue to prosper for many decades to come.