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Sport-Related Diploma Boosts Sport, Studies, Career

Customised Diploma In Collaboration With Republic Polytechnic

In the 10 years of close partnership that Singapore Sports School and Republic Polytechnic (RP) have enjoyed, student-athletes from the customised programme offered by RP have had more than 100 opportunities to compete at the major Games, and even more at major international meets. Starting in 2011, student-athletes were able to embark on the customised Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management (DSLM) programme via through-train after Sports School’s secondary programme.

Among the 2020 batch of 12 graduands, eight had competed in at least one major Games, with five participating at the Philippines 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Muhammad Shaheed Alam Meqsud Alam credits the athlete-friendliness of the DSLM which has allowed him numerous opportunities to compete in high-level competitions during his four years in the programme. Singapore’s top-ranked tennis player has earned selection to represent the nation at four Davis Cups – described as the “World Cup of Tennis” – and two SEA Games.

“I think post-secondary student-athletes in Sports School are really fortunate that we have a totally different schedule from the students in Republic Polytechnic’s main campus. The biggest plus is that we are studying up to two modules at each time, instead of the standard five, which is beneficial for those of us focusing on both sport and studies. Of course, it also meant that we didn’t have to take five exams each semester and helped us manage our academic load,” said Shaheed.

It was also this unique module structure that has helped wushu exponent Jowen Lim Si Wei successfully balance both sport and academic pursuits. Coming from the DSLM programme in RP’s main campus, Sports School’s customised programme sounded extremely attractive to Jowen, a multiple SEA Games gold medallist, who opted to make the move in March 2018 after receiving a call from Sports School’s polytechnic coordinator.

“I had wanted to join Singapore Sports School even before entering Republic Polytechnic. Therefore, when I heard about how the customised DSLM at Sports School could support me in my sport and academic pursuit, I was immediately sold. Under the Sports School programme, I was able to not only balance sport and studies, but I was able to do better in both. My sport performance improved and so did my grades,” said the 2019 World Wushu Championships double bronze medallist.

“Taking fewer modules each semester made it less stressful for me while studying, training and competing, and I was able to focus better in what I did.”

The customised programme offered through a collaboration with RP has undergone several changes along the course of the 10 years since its launch. Although the programme’s focus continues to be in sport management, the course presently offered is the Diploma in Business (DBIZ). Just a year prior, the DSLM was renamed the Diploma in Sport Management (DSPM) in 2019. There have also been improvements to the structure and schedule to ensure the programme remains supportive towards high-performing athletes managing a dual career in sport and studies.

Feedback was taken which has resulted in a change in timing of lessons to better accommodate student-athletes who had to attend training sessions with the national teams, shared Shaheed.

Fellow classmate and Team Singapore athlete Mohamad Irwan Abdul Rahman, who has competed in two SEA Games and the Asian Games while in post-secondary, has also benefited from the flexible timetable.

Picking up the longer distance events required him to travel to an external training venue, yet with the lesson schedule unique to Sports School’s in-house programme, the shooter was able to train more frequently in his new events. This led to him breaking the National Record in the Men’s 3-Positions 50m Rifle event at the 14th Asian Shooting Championship in Doha in November 2019, about a month before winning a bronze medal at the SEA Games. In his pet event – the 10m Air Rifle, the 20-year-old also the National Record three times over four years.

Under the current timetable, classes are run once a day, four days a week. For Irwan, this reduced the amount of shuttling back and forth from school and training that was held externally, compared to the previous schedule where lessons were run twice daily on school days.

“Another unique feature that makes the Sports School programme so athlete-friendly is that we are able to get supplementary classes before major exams that allow us to intensively prepare or catch up on topics we have missed while on Leave of Absence,” said Irwan.

Despite his heavy training and competition calendar, the shooter managed to secure the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) amongst the 12 student-athletes in the 2020 graduating cohort, while winning two medals – a silver and a bronze – at the regional Games in 2017 and 2019. “Our class sizes are small; mine was about 20 strong. While the culture was very competitive, it supportive and encouraging at the same time. This environment created an attitude where all of us strove to do our best in our studies. I also had classmates who would be competing alongside me at the major Games and we would motivate each other. I am very thankful for the classmates and the environment I had during my DSLM years.”

Shaheed has gained useful knowledge and life skills that have prepared him well for his future. “A massive takeaway from the DSLM programme was launching a startup, SportsMenu, with two of my classmates, shooters Brian Lim Wei Lun and Wong Ting Wei. Using the idea we had for our Final Year Project (FYP), we decided to take it up a notch up and launch it. With some skills and knowledge we acquired from the Entrepreneurship module, we launched our company in 2018 and it doubled up as our internship attachment. I won't lie, it's pretty cool to do our internship at our own company,” said Shaheed, co-founder of SportsMenu.

“I’ve also grown in confidence through the many presentations I had to make during the programme as each lesson would end with one. This helped me tremendously when I was selected to be on a panel of three athletes during a conference organised by the National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) where we shared our perspectives on transitioning from a junior to senior athlete. The conference was attended by more than 200 coaches and national junior athletes.”