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Alumni-Turned-Coaches To Make A Difference

Champions For Sports

“Home” is where the heart is. And for coaches, Mylene Ong Chui Bin from the Swimming Academy, Geraldine Ng Jie Hui from Netball Academy, Tay Hui Wen from the Bowling Academy and Rafiuddin Sawal from the Track and Field Academy, this statement stands true. Their roots at the Singapore Sports School runs much deeper as it is a place they called their “home” for many years as a teenage student-athlete. Each of them have created their own success story, but they credit the school’s athlete-friendly set-up, and their teachers and coaches for being instrumental in their sport and personal growth.

Familiar with the many emotions that student-athletes experience; the burning desire to be a sportsman; the excitement of the new experience; the anxiety of being away from family; the fatigue from balancing training and studying; and the many ups and downs that is part of an athlete’s learning journey; these student-athletes turned into coaches to make a difference in the lives of aspiring athletes.

When swimming coach Mylene Ong first walked into Singapore Sports School, she was a teenager with an ambition not be a professional swimmer. It was 2004 then, and Sports School had just opened its doors to its first intake. She was extremely excited at the promise of a new experience in a new environment, where she could work towards her dream of becoming a better swimmer, and perhaps, represent Singapore on an international stage one day. And she did. Mylene has been part of several record-breakers and the highlight of her swimming career was her participation at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She graduated from Sports School after completing the through-train programme in Diploma in Sport Management and Exercise Science hosted with Auckland University of Technology.

Mylene knows that many student-athletes will experience the myriad of emotions she felt as a student-athlete. She shared, “I can relate to the students as I was a student-athlete in the school myself. It allows me to understand them better, and share some advice with them as well. What I enjoy most is that I can freely share my experience as swimmer with the kids I work with. Also, to be able to share same passion as them, there is so much to talk and learn at the same time!” Mylene knew from the onset of her career that she wanted to be a coach in the school. She jumped on the opportunity as soon as there was a job opening, and has been coaching in the school for the past three years.

Tay Hui Wen, Assistant Coach from the Bowling Academy, shares similar sentiments. Coaching at the Sports School is her first full-time job since graduating from University. At Sports School, she completed the through-train Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management by Republic Polytechnic. Her favourite part of the job is interacting with student-athletes. “Having gone through a similar pathway, I can understand their needs and wants. Hearing some of their stories and complaints, reminds me of myself at that age. With this job, I gain the best of both worlds – creating an impact in the lives of young athletes, and gaining bowling knowledge and learning about coaching from experienced coaches and opportunities to travel with student-athletes for competitions.”

Rafiuddin Sawal’s connection and bond with the school is even stronger. He met his teenage sweetheart at Sports School, whom he later married. Both of them were from the Track and Field Academy. He said: “I always appreciated the mentors in my life and I knew that I wanted to be that in some capacity. Combining that with my love for sport, I decided to coach as a career path. I enjoy the challenge in developing future sports stars and helping them be the best they can be as a person and as a student-athlete.”

For netball coach Geraldine Ng, gratitude towards the school is what brought her back. She said, “I have always been grateful for what the school has given me as a student-athlete. Sports School was the place I grew up, and went through all my ups and downs with the guidance of my teachers and coaches. Coming back is my way of giving back and paying it forward.”

To see a living example of a success story from the Sports School on a daily basis is an inspiration and motivation to many student-athletes. More than that, the role they play as a coach, friend, mentor and confidante, and their dedication to give back by developing a new breed of athletes in the school that made them who they are, is admirable. They are just four of the many full-time and part-time coaches who have returned to do their part to nurture future sportsmen and sportswomen. Their stories can spark many other success stories.

We would like to express our deepest appreciation to all coaches and teachers who are doing their best to reinvent the way they teach and reach out to student-athletes during Home-Based Learning and Training. Thank you, for being a champion for our champions!