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Sports School Coaches Form ‘A’ Team
Top-Notch Coaching Team
One of Singapore Sports School’s value propositions that emerged from the school’s 2014 review is to offer top-notch coaching to student-athletes with the aim of feeding the pipeline for the national teams. It is widely known that coaches play an important role in the development of an athlete, particularly when it comes to coaching youths who are at the stage of life where they’re most impressionable.
To ensure that Sports School student-athletes receive the best coaching possible to help them fulfil their sport dreams, a mix of Singaporeans and foreign nationals make up the coaching team at the Sports School.
Bringing a foreign coach onboard is known to have its benefits. Not only do they bring with them new training methods and expertise in the international arena, they could also help to raise the quality of sport and coaching in Singapore. Foreign coaches, having been exposed to a higher level of sport in their home country, may be more effective in stretching the potential of local athletes. Aside from knowledge sharing, the presence of foreign coaches adds positive pressure in the local coach community to raise their coaching game.
Recognising these advantages, Sports School welcomes foreign coaches who are suitable for the school. Since the school’s inception in 2004, foreign coaches from all over the world – such as Chile, China, England, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and United States – have contributed to the quality of coaching.
South Korean Shim Jaesung, who has been Fencing Academy’s Head Coach since 2017, has coached Olympic medallists and world champions. At the Philippines 2019 Southeast Asian Games, the Fencing Academy had four student-athletes competing against the region’s best senior fencers. All four returned with a medal each.
Swimming Academy Head Coach Douglas Russell Barron Djang has also coached elite swimmers who are amongst the world’s best, while Lindsay Ruth McDonald Filiata brings a wealth of coaching experience from New Zealand – a netball powerhouse – to lead the Netball Academy.
While coaches with international experience may help to raise the level of sport in Singapore, Singaporean coaches bring knowledge that is invaluable in developing champions for Singapore. Singaporeans are experts in the local context and can adapt training programmes that may be most effective for local athletes who are physiologically different from an American, for example.
A key factor in considering a coach’s suitability for Sports School is a good track record of working with youth athletes. Most Sports School student-athletes join the school at 12 years old and spend most of their teenage years pursuing their sport dreams. It is therefore important for youth coaches to be sensitive to their charges’ changing bodies caused by puberty and understand the difference between an athletes’ chronological age, biological age and training age so as to plan effective training programmes. Beyond possessing the technical knowledge of a sport, effective coaches are those who are able to empathise with their athletes in sport and other aspects of life, and guide them along. Who better than alumni who have gone through a similar system and can help student-athletes navigate through challenges they encounter? These alumni coaches, who have a deeper sense of loyalty in seeing the school’s mission of nurturing Learned Champions With Character be accomplished, include Geraldine Ng Jie Hui (Netball), 2012 Olympian Mylene Ong Chui Bin (Swimming), and Rafiuddin Sawal (Track and Field).
The goal in any sport team that has foreign and local coaches is to achieve synergy so that champions can be nurtured. The Shooting Academy has produced many national shooters who have medalled at major competitions such as the SEA Games, World Cup and Junior World Cup. When alumnus Adele Tan Qian Xiu first entered Sports School in 2012, she had no prior experience as a shooter, except for the Learn-To-Shoot sessions organised by the Shooting Academy to introduce the sport to Primary 5 and 6 pupils. She spent seven years under the tutelage of Shooting Academy Head Coach Lim Chea Rong, a recipient of the Singapore Coach Medallion award in 2019, before continuing her sport development with Chinese coach Song Haiping. Adele, who has been shooting competitively for nine years and is one of Singapore’s top rifle shooters, won two bronze medals at the 2019 SEA Games. She was also part of the team of three that won a silver medal at the 2018 ISSF Junior World Cup where they set a new world junior team record.
Sports School also benefits from the secondment coaches from National Sports Associations, a result of the close partnership with the latter. Seconded coaches offer greater alignment to the national set-up’s programme and direction, which is beneficial for student-athletes who will make the step up into the national team one day. Bowling Academy Head Coach Francis Yeo openly shares his knowledge of sport planning, training and development with the coaching team to boost the Academy’s coaching capabilities. Francis comes from the Singapore Bowling Federation and was the National Head Coach before his attachment with the Sports School.
“Singapore Sports School strives to provide student-athletes with the best environment for them to fulfil their sport potential. Student-athletes train in international-standard facilities and receive the best possible coaching from experienced coaches. We have a diverse team of coaches at Sports School who each adds value and brings unique expertise to their academies and student-athletes they coach. Our coaches genuinely care for and ensure their student-athletes’ physical, emotional and mental wellbeing as they develop as individuals and athletes,” said Tan Bee Lian, Director of Sports at the Sports School.
Learning and development is not only for athletes. Coaches are encouraged to continue upgrading their coaching capabilities and are presented with many professional development opportunities, internally and externally. Coaches regularly partake in both formal and informal knowledge sharing sessions within the organisation, as well as learn from industry experts through conferences organised by Singapore Sport Institute and National Youth Sports Institute.