Wholesome Activities Lead To Holistic Development
Scott Ang Yiqiang receives the Presidents Scholarship from President Tony Tan Keng Yam. Photo courtesy of PSC.
Strategic Communications Senior Manager Shirley Tan-Oehler has a mum-to-mum chat with Mrs Kelly Ang, mother of President’s Scholar Scott Ang Yiqiang, and learns that she didn’t have to worry about Scott’s academic results because his teachers were more concerned about it.
Shirley: Why did Scott choose to study at Singapore Sports School?
Kelly: In 2005, when Scott was in P6, he pondered over two choices: The well-established ACS (Independent) or the 2-year-old Singapore Sports School. ACSI offered him Direct School Admission as he had done well in the National Primary Schools Swimming Championships. However, having scored 233 in his PSLE, I felt that he may be disadvantaged academically and even in swimming if he went to ACSI.
At Sports School, however, there would be many advantages – time-saving on travelling between venues as he would be boarding at school; his PSLE score would put him in a top class; the swim team was small as there were only four other male swimmers then, so he could swim in his pet events as well as relays; he would be able to participate in any other areas he had an interest in as the competition would never be so intense because his cohort had only about 80 student-athletes.
Shirley: Did you ever tell Scott, “Study… Don’t play so much sport.”?
Kelly: Scott was a playful and active child. Very frequently, since P1, I would get teachers complain to me that he did not do his homework. I did not punish him because I think he genuinely either forgot or had not much time to do them. At Sports School, I often encouraged Scott to both study and play sports well. When he had high key competitions, he would put his studies on hold to train very hard and when examinations came, he would focus and study. He tried to always keep up his studies amidst all the training.
Every mother would love to have her children play without a care. But life is not so simple. We have to be practical about their future, like making a living, raising a family, providing a roof over their heads, etc. Therefore, we need our children to pursue an education with both studies and sports. The skills learnt through sports like discipline, teamwork, resilience and strife will translate into the skills needed to succeed in life.
Shirley: In 2009, the year that Scott was to take his GCE “O” Level Examinations, he was frequently overseas for training and competitions to prepare for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Did you shake your head and said, “How to do well in your examinations?”
Kelly: Scott had a few races prior to Singapore 2010 YOG as pre-requisites to be selected to represent Singapore in triathlon. So he had to train very extensively both locally and overseas in order to make the cut. He even missed his Preliminary Examinations before his GCE “O” Level. By then, I was confident that he would do well enough in his examinations because he had been consistently doing very well in his studies.
I was more worried that he could not qualify to represent Singapore. There could only be one male representative from Singapore, so the stakes were very high. The YOG is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not to be missed. I felt that studies could take a back seat for a while.
Shirley: In the one month between returning from overseas training/competition and the GCE “O” Level Examinations, you saw Scott really study. Did you feel relieved or did you think there was no point in burning the midnight oil?
Kelly: As long as Scott was studying and his teachers were there to assist, I had no cause to worry. I was prepared for him to go to any junior college or polytechnic that his results would qualify him for, so long as that school supported his sports.
Shirley: Were you nervous the day that Scott received his GCE “O” Level results?
Kelly: I was excited and a little nervous about his GCE “O” Level results. He had told me he was aiming for a perfect score of 6 points. Although he got 7 points, I was happy enough. Scott said that he wanted to aim high so that he would have a goal to achieve and even if he fell short, at least it would not be too far off the mark.
Shirley: Scott went to ACS (Independent) for his Independent Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. If Singapore Sports School offered IBDP then, would you have allowed him to stay on at the Sports School?
Kelly: Scott had a very good experience at Sports School and he was very comfortable with Principal Deborah Tan, Director of Sports Irwin Seet, his teachers, coaches, and all his friends, having lived there for four years. He had also blossomed in that environment and he feels very bonded to the Sports School. So, we would have gladly allowed him to continue his education at the Sports School if the School had IBDP then. That said, we are grateful that Scott went to ACSI as it gave him the opportunity to take on a bigger leadership role which stretched his abilities further. He was also in a large cohort in a school with an established academic reputation and so he had to study even harder to just keep up.
Shirley: At ACS (Independent), Scott continued to be very busy with anything and everything except his studies – this time, with the Students’ Council. Did you by then say to yourself, “Aiyah! I give up on this boy!” Or did you encourage him, “Do what makes you happy.”?
Kelly: At the beginning of Year 5 in ACSI, Scott told me that he wanted to join the Students’ Council as he had enjoyed doing council work at Sports School. I tried to discourage him as his final YOG selection trial was not over, and I knew he had no time to do anything else other than school work and training. On top of that, I told him that he might not even get elected because he was totally a new “kid” in a school where most students already knew each other since the school has affiliated primary and secondary schools. I was surprised when he went through each selection test and finally became the President of the Students’ Council. At that age, it was getting more difficult to dissuade him when he put his mind to something. And of course he became even busier with anything and everything else except his studies. But I knew that when his Council term ended, he would be able to pick up on his studies.
Shirley: How did you feel about Scott’s academic achievements – 233 at PSLE, 7 points at GCE “O” Level, 44 points at IBDP?
Kelly: Scott’s academic achievements are beyond my expectations of him. He was a slow learner in his early years but he constantly improved over each year. Growing up, I could see him overcome each obstacle with his strong mindset and positive outlook. With a good attitude and given time, Scott has developed well. We would like to thank all those who have moulded and supported him.
Shirley: When Scott was selected to receive the Public Service Commission’s SAF Overseas Scholarship last year, how did you feel?
Kelly: We were all elated as we felt that being what he is and what he is passionate about, he is suited for an SAF career. A PSC Overseas Scholarship will give him many opportunities and broaden his career path.
Shirley: Now that Scott has received the ultimate accolade, the President’s Scholarship, are you able to look back and say, “All those non-academic interests that Scott pursued at school – they have shaped his thinking and choice for his future.”?
Kelly: On hindsight, I see all the activities that he was involved in since young as crucial in his development into a fine and capable young man. At first, I was worried that his studies would be affected when he took up so many activities. When he was in Secondary 3, he was the swimming captain, boarding leader and student councilor. That was also the same year when won the Plain English Speaking Award as well as topped his cohort academically for the first time. So I stopped worrying about his academics falling behind. He became adept at juggling all his activities and was enjoying everything that he did in spite of being so busy. Being in an environment where he was shaped and influenced immensely by peers, sports, teachers and coaches must have given him direction and pointed the way to his choice for the future.
Shirley: Do you think Singapore Sports School had, in any way, contributed to Scott’s growth as a person? How so?
Kelly: When Scott was in Secondary 1, the School started an award system to recognise student-athletes with good character, or who do well in their studies. There were awards for the top 3 student-athletes in each subject for each module. At first, Scott received only Science awards as that was his favourite and best subject. But over the years, he started to excel in the other subjects as well, and so began his academic progress, which we were delighted with. It was small gestures of encouragement such as these that spurred Scott to improve.
By Secondary 3, we began to see that Scott had become very self-motivated not only in sports and activities, but also in his academics. We no longer worried about his studies because we could see that the teachers were always more concerned than we were.
Teachers at Singapore Sports School were able to identify and develop his talents because the school cohort was small. There was character grooming as well as a lot of wholesome activities and exposure to engage student-athletes and impart in them the need to contribute or take an active role in the community or society. The turning point to his growth was more evident when he was in Secondary 3. Then he was chosen and trained for a speech contest and thereafter, given many opportunities to lead or compere on stage. That built his confidence and public speaking skills and we started to see him grow from strength to strength. By giving support and opportunities to each student-athlete to grow to the best of his ability, the Sports School has done more than its job.
Scott Ang Yiqiang is full of expression at the 22nd YMCA Plain English Speaking Awards in 2008, which he wins.
Scott Ang Yiqiang receives the Public Service Commission Scholarship from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Photo courtesy of PSC.
Scott Ang Yiqiang receives the Public Service Commission’s SAF Overseas Scholarship from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. Photo courtesy of SAF.
Scott Ang Yiqiang is applauded and cheered as he heads towards the finishing line in the Triathlon event at Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Photo courstey of SPH-SYOGOC John Heng.