Fandi Ahmad and Irfan Fandi in soccer. Siew Shaw Her and Savannah Siew in sailing. Low Luan Eng and Ang Han Teng in archery. Each father-son, father-daughter, and mother-son pair a special story of a sporting legacy passed down from parent to child.
Now add to that list a mother-daughter pair: Jasmine Leow and Jolly Chan in volleyball.
Jasmine Leow (right) and her daughter Jolly. Photo: Soon Ching Voon / SINGSOC
Jasmine, 48, represented Singapore for six editions of the SEA Games from 1981-1993 as an open spiker. She was part of the team that won Singapore’s only volleyball medal in the Games so far, a bronze in 1981.
Today Jasmine watched her daughter Jolly, a member of the current Singapore women’s team, defeat Myanmar in their Group A match, putting Singapore through to the semifinals of the women’s volleyball competition. A semi-final berth means that Singapore is guaranteed at least a bronze medal, which gives Singapore its first volleyball medal in 34 years.
Jolly Chan hits a serve during the match against Myanmar. Photo: Soon Ching Voon / SiNGSOC
Despite the gap in years, both Jasmine and Jolly share the same coach in their time on the national team. 70-year old Akihiko Narita from Japan coached Jasmine in the Singapore national team for about 7 years in the 80’s. He took a break from coaching in 1989, but returned in 2012 to coach both the men’s and women’s teams.
Coach Akihiko Narita (in green) and Jasmine Leow (standing, second from right, No. 2), with the women’s volleyball team back in the 1985 SEA Games in Bangkok. Photo: Jasmine Leow
Narita says it is very easy to associate mother and daughter, who both play the same position – open spiker: “They both have the same spiking form!” Then he adds with a smile, “But the mother is better.”
Jasmine when she was playing for the Singapore volleyball team. Photo: Jasmine Leow
Jasmine and coach Narita are still very close, and thus she trusts her daughter with the experienced coach. She says, “I know him very well, so I try not to share (volleyball tips) with my daughter too much, because I rather let the coach do the better job.”
Coach Narita (centre) with Jasmine (right) and Jolly (left) today. Photo: Soon Ching Voon / SINGSOC
Jolly, 20, a third-year student in Temasek Polytechnic, actually did not know that her mum was a Singapore national player when she first started playing volleyball. “I was picked to play volleyball in primary school because of my height,” she explains, “I only found out my mum was a national player when I was in Secondary 1.”
In fact, both Jolly’s parents used to play for Singapore’s national squad, and they actually met because of volleyball. Jolly says she does feel some pressure because of her “volleyball genes.” She explains, “Everyone has an expectation of you when they know that both your parents were ex-players, and how good they were.”
Jolly’s dad Jason (far left) and her mum Jasmine (far right), along with other ex-national volleyball players, and coach Narita’s wife (second from right). Photo: Soon Ching Voon / SINGSOC
But Jolly appreciates the help her mum brings to her game. “Before every important game, I will talk to my mum, and she gives me all the encouragement I need, all the motivation I need. She’s my everything.”
The encouragement served Jolly well as she came on as a substitute in the third set, where Singapore was down 0-2 to Myanmar, she played an important role in Singapore’s comeback, including a powerful spike to bring up set point. The renewed momentum led to Singapore’s eventual 3-2 win which moved Jolly to tears of joy when the match ended.
Mother and daughter share an emotional hug after an epic comeback win. Photo: Soon Ching Voon / SINGSOC
Jolly and the Singapore women’s volleyball team will face Vietnam in their bid to better Singapore’s only bronze medal from 1981. The semi-finals match will take place on 14 Jun (Sun) at OCBC Arena Hall 2.
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.