1. Tell us more about yourself and your volleyball life.
The year was 1982 and I stepped into the then Pei Dao Secondary at its Toa Payoh campus. Pei Dao Secondary was the volleyball powerhouse in Singapore schools back in the 1980s and 1990s so very naturally when it came to choosing a CCA (then known as ECA), I chose volleyball. The late-Mr Lim Bah Seng (coach of Pei Dao Secondary) introduced the game to me and that started my 30+ years journey with volleyball.
As I was the shorter one in the team, I was trained as a setter from the beginning. I was part of the team which was the national champion for zonal and nationals from 1982 through to 1985. I was part of the ASEAN junior volleyball championship in 1983, 1985 and 1987, and ASIAN junior volleyball championship in 1986 and 1988.
In 1985, at the age of 16, I was selected into the National Senior training squad and from then, participated in the SEA Games in 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1995, and was part of the historical bronze medallist team for the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore. I retired from the National team after the 1995 SEA Games at the age of 26. A decade with the National Team and one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life.
In 2004 In embarked on the career as a volleyball coach. Other than coaching secondary school teams, I have also coached the National Women’s youth squad and helped to set up the Singapore Youth Olympic girls helped to set up the Singapore Youth Olympic girls’ team back in 2008 in preparation for the inaugural Youth Olympics Games in Singapore in 2010.
2. What are you doing to contribute to volleyball in Singapore?
I am currently coaching younger players in schools. It is my job (and livelihood) and also a way for me to continue getting involved in the sport that I love. I feel that developmental coaches who are involved in coaching younger players should focus on developing and not only on winning matches. A good example is the young players (especially girls) in schools may not be taught two-person blocking or quick spikes which are important skills for development. They may be focusing on simpler plays that will win school level competitions instead. This mentality and approach, over time, lowered the overall standard of play. When the players leave the school system, they are not able to adapt to the higher level of play and in one generation, the whole level of play locally was lowered. The problem perpetuated into the national level and that is the challenge we face now!
Previously I was quite heavily involved in the various national level initiatives such as National Youth team and Youth Olympics team. However, I have decided to take a step back from these partly due to work and family commitments. I also felt that the VAS youth development programmes were, at that time, sporadic and not sustainable. To be fair, it is extremely challenging on the part of the Association as it receives limited funding for its developmental and high-performance programmes so it is unfortunate that certain programmes were culled as a result of limited resources.
3. What will you do to encourage more volleyballers to contribute in their own ways to give back to the sport?
A the community level, it is important to be aligned in the vision for Singapore Volleyball. There will be no overnight success. Development work is resource consuming but is absolutely critical for the long term success of Singapore volleyball. Young players must have the desire to excel and aspire to represent the nation. School and parental support are extremely important and players must be willing to put in the effort and time ti become better.
Looking back 20 to 30 years, we had less clubs and players were generally shorter. Now that we have many more local clubs and players (who are generally taller and stronger) which gices us a bigger and better pool to source our national players. Our natural advantage is that we are a small nation which allows the best players to train together over a longer period of time as compared to larger countries where the players may be based in different locations and they will only comes together for a limited period in preparation for major games.
I hope that local coaches can put aside their personal agendas and interests and work together to help elevate the level of play and building Singapore volleyball into a regional powerhouse. Singapore volleyball has never played in Asian Games and I really hope to see our teams qualifying for Asian Games in my lifetime!