1. Tell us more about yourself and your volleyball life.
I joined the then-Pei Dao Secondary School at the age of 13 in 1980 and that was my first exposure to the game of volleyball. I was coached by the late-Mr. Lim Bah Seng and benefited immensely from him. For some strange reasons, the game and I just clicked and I fell in love with volleyball. As a young secondary one player, I was included in the then-Combined Schools (now known as ASG) volleyball team and represented Singapore Schools at the ASEAN Schools volleyball championships in Malaysia.
In 1981, as a 14-year old, I was drafted into the National Women’s SEA Games squad for the 11th SEA Games in Manila, Philippines. The Women’s volleyball team won the bronze medal in that edition of the Games and it was one of the most memorable experience I had as a national athlete. I continued playing with the National team over the next 11 years and participated in a total of six editions of the SEA Games from 1981 through to 1993. After the 1993 edition, I retired from the National Team and focused on work and my family.
From 1983 to 1987, I was under the tutelage of Coach Akihiko Narita. Coincidentally, Coach Narita returned to Singapore in 2013 and my daughter (Jolly Chan) was also coached by Coach Narita in preparation for the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. She is also part of the bronze medal team in the 2015 SEA Games.
I started playing recreationally when I was 40 years old and now I crave for more game time the older I get!
2. What are you doing to contribute to volleyball in Singapore?
Honestly other than playing the game as a national athlete over 12 years, I don’t think I have done much for Singapore volleyball. Does encouraging my daughter to play since young count as contribution? [laughter]
I have been away for too long and only started coaching younger players (in primary school and secondary school) since last year. I guess starting to play recreationally in my 40s re-ignited my passion for the sport and I will like to play a part in coaching and mentoring the younger players. I enjoyed working with the younger players and I hope I can contribute by passing on the skills and sharing my experiences as a national athlete with them!
3. What will you do to encourage more volleyballers to contribute in their own ways, to give back to the sport?
I remember when I was younger that it was the greatest honour to represent the nation, may it be as a student athlete at the Combined Schools level, at the Age-Group level or as a Senior National athlete. Then, everyone in the sport wants to have a chance to represent the nation.
I noticed that this is no longer the case, especially for the younger generation. I am not sure if the academic pressure is too big for our students or parents are not supportive of their endeavors, or a combination of both. Some of the student athletes I talked to are not keen to get involved in ASG or even try out at National level as they have too many commitments.
I hope that younger players aspire to play at the highest level possible. I feel that volleyball is a very technical sport and it involves repetitive skills training and building of muscle memory. There is a lot of hard work involved to be able to play the sport well and compete with the best players locally and regionally. There is no shortcut to success.
I was sadden with the development of (or lack of) in the sports over the last two decades. There has been a lack of focus and we effectively lost 20 years of development. I am glad that we are starting to see some progress with the new Council (many whom are ex-players) to help revamp the way things are run in the Association. I hope that they keep the enthusiasm and passion and we should support them in whatever way we can to drive progress in Singapore Volleyball.