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Trust, Open Communication Essential In Partnership

Parent Feature: Patrick Elangovan

Six years ago, Patrick Elangovan enrolled his eldest son into Singapore Sports School’s Swimming Academy. Shortly after, he joined the Sporting Parents Network (SPN), the School’s parent support group, as a Swimming Academy Representative with little prompting. For him it was simple; he just “wanted to serve in any way possible”.

As part of the SPN, Patrick has helped out at several years’ Open House when physical events could still be held. During the event which attracted many interested students and parents, he connected with the parents of potential athletes, explaining and clarifying their queries and helping to change mindsets. He assured concerned parents, telling them that Sports School student-athletes are “smart cookies” and that they would be well looked after.

Patrick has also played a critical role in bridging the communication gap between parents and school leaders. By being the voice for the parent body, it gives the School an opportunity to allay parents’ concerns and improve situations while putting student-athletes as the focal point. One example was when the school received feedback from parents or student-athletes to improve the food served by Sports School’s in-house caterer several years back. Patrick took on the task of understanding and reviewing how the caterer operated, and eventually proposed some suggestions to school leaders.

“I would say that it's a privilege to serve in the Sporting Parents Network. I enjoy working with like-minded parents who want to make Singapore Sports School a great place for our kids. It also allows me to be closer to my kids, and I believe in being an example and showing to them that we all can serve in whatever capacity possible,” said the father of four. Two of his sons, Sean (Swimming, DBS Year 2) and Isaisah (Water Polo, Secondary 1), are in the Sports School.

To Patrick, who works in the aviation industry, the relationship between parents and school should a partnership. “Be a partner that builds the relationship,” he urges parents. “That way, it's a win-win. The formula for success is that both parties must have mutual trust and understanding, and always be open to discussion. Dialogue is a must. When in doubt, always clarify.”

On his decision to send not one, but two sons to the Sports School, he said: “The reason for letting my boys join Sports School was simple. This is the only school in Singapore that allows an athlete to excel in studies and sport. Both sport and studies are demanding, but the School does so well to help student-athletes balance them. A support system is in place to ensure that our student-athletes excel and become champions in and for sport.”

In fact, his belief in the system is so strong that he nearly had three children joining the Sports School, with his daughter applying for the Netball Academy. “Joining the Sports School is indeed a privilege not to be taken for granted. I am thankful for the growth I see in my boys and am grateful that Sports School is a partner in nurturing them.”

As the 2nd Vice-Chairman of the SPN, he shares that the parents he works with, as well as the school, are what motivates him to serve the community.

“The parents are phenomenal! They are always willing to give of their time and resources to serve all student-athletes, not only their children. Most importantly the school leaders have always been open to discussion with parents. This is truly representative of a good partnership.

“I am happy whenever I see our student-athletes do well in sport, academics and in society. It’s a testament to all the hard work put in by everyone. The saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is clearly demonstrated in the Sports School.”

So, what advice does he has for other parents? “Join the SPN now! It is important to have a clear channel of communication. Directly approach school leaders when there is a concern and discuss openly. Have trust; trust the process. Trust the coaches and teachers. Having said that, not everything is perfect and there is always room for improvement. So, work together with the school to make it a better environment for our children to develop and grow in.”