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All in an athlete's day: Inspiring and imparting values

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(L to R) Team Singapore alumni Yip Ren Kai (waterpolo), Jannah Wong (athletics), Goh Chui Ling (athletics), Parliament Secretary Mr Baey Yam Keng, Suhairi Suhani (athletics), Jeremiah Tan (CP Football) and Tay Wei Ming (badminton). Photo: Sport Singapore


Taking a day off from their busy schedules to do their part for the community, Team Singapore athletes and alumni joined volunteers and beneficiaries of the Youth Corps Singapore to launch the Common Space for Common Good initiative at the Singapore Sports Hub on Saturday.

Team Singapore athletes Jannah Wong and Goh Chui Ling (athletics), Jeremiah Tan (cerebral palsy footballer), Suhairi Suhani (athletics) and Tay Wei Ming (badminton) were joined by Team Singapore alumni Donald Koh (badminton), Yip Ren Kai (water polo) and hall of famers C. Kunalan (athletics) and Wang Yuegu (table tennis) for the day’s exciting events.

The initiative aims to bring youths from different backgrounds to use common spaces to do good for the larger community, and our Team Singapore athletes got to interact with underprivileged families in hopes that their stories of perseverance and determination will one day inspire these youths.

Mr Kunalan (pictured below), whose sporting prowess in the 1960s is only matched by his wealth of knowledge about sport in Singapore, proved to be a hit with both the Team Singapore athletes as well as the beneficiaries and volunteers.

Yip Ren Kai and Wang Yuegu also hit it off with the young visitors as they regaled them with tales of their exploits in the SEA Games water polo team and in the Olympics respectively.


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Hall of famer C. Kunalan during the tour of the Sports Museum. Photo: Sport Singapore


The stories from our Team Singapore alumni unavoidably inspired 14-year-old Rhonnie, who said he “wanted to improve himself after going through the museum tour”.

Another beneficiary, Daniel, also 14, said, “He (C. Kunalan) told us about his experience participating in the Olympics. I think he is a very, very inspiring person. I have a friend who is a sprinter and I see many similarities between them.”                                                                                                                                                                                 

Interactions with the Team Singapore athletes also proved to be an interesting and engaging one for the public, especially for volunteer Chloe Ng.

“The athletes were very encouraging! They taught us the game of speedminton and were very friendly to us,” she said.

“I usually tune in to the swimming segment so I am more familiar with Team Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling and Tao Li. They did really well; they gave their best and we could see that.”

While Joseph Schooling's record-breaking SEA Games performances have made him the hero of many teenagers today, youths such as Nazfil and Shafiq each have their own heroes in unsung ASEAN Para Games medallists Suhairi and Jeremiah.

Nazfil, 12, said his favourite Team Singapore athlete was the “handsome one, Suhairi”, a Silver medallist in long jump.


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Jeremiah Tan teamed up with a beneficiary to complete a game station. Photo: Sport Singapore


While Shafiq, also 12, related that he was visited in his school by Jeremiah, who imparted words of wisdom and taught them an invaluable lesson in “skill, discipline and the rules”.

Perhaps SportCares beneficiary and Youth Corps volunteer Abdul Thaslim summed the experience up best. “At first I thought they would be like the kind of person that wouldn’t talk to us but actually they are super friendly. They come to us to engage us and also participate with us.”

“I managed to interact with Jannah who is from Team Singapore. She assisted me in playing the game and also encouraged the participants to persevere do better.”

For Thaslim, his experience with athletes on Saturday left him with a treasured takeaway: “Although you fail at times, you got to try and try again. Seeing them in person encourages me to never give up on my passion.”