1. Tell us more about yourself and your volleyball life.
I started playing volleyball in Yuhua Secondary School but did not seek out volleyball as an option when I went to Polytechnic and University. My second chance with volleyball came when I joined the then-Singapore Sports Council in 2008. And I was elated to learn that a volleyball team exists! I join the team and have been playing with them since. I never thought that I could get in touch with volleyball again after so many years. Outside of playing with SportSG team, I also play regularly on Sundays with another bunch of kakis.
And with this second chance, I realised how much I love the sport. Firstly because it is a technically challenging sport as it involves different skill sets such as service, receiving (under and over passes), and spiking. Secondly, the game requires a lot of unsaid communication and rapport with the team mates in order to play a tight game. And although it is a net and barrier game, spatial awareness of individual player is extremely important. Never would I imagine to have a chance to play an integral role in the sport I love.
2. What are you doing to contribute to volleyball in Singapore?
I was seconded from SportSG to the Association as a General Manager (GM) in Dec-18. I was offered the opportunity by the SportSG senior management as the VAS President, Mr Ang Wei Neng saw the need to have an administrator in the office to strengthen the secretariat support.
It has been been an exciting journey thus far. I believe this is the first GM position in the 58 years of VAS establishment. As a GM, my first priority was to develop the multi-year sports plan for Volleyball in Singapore and execute its implementation. I started off thinking, I can fill up a template that scorers 100 points with the funding agencies but to make it really work, I need the buy-in of the fraternity. As such, I started working my first few weeks talking to a lot of people about the volleyball ecosystem in Singapore. Unfortunately, the fraternity is fragmented, and it is an uphill task to rally trust in the Association.
Working with the council is an integral part of my job. And I am lucky to have some council members who are hard at work, sourcing donations, getting their hands dirty and giving their time to the Association, sometimes sacrificing personal and family time. The secretariat team is able to facilitate matters more effectively because of that.
Another important piece of work is in the area of High Performance, especially for a SEA Games year. 2019 was dedicated to working with the national teams and coaches to fight for a chance to represent Singapore in the Philippines. We also have great support Sport Science Institute (SSI) through carding the athletes and having Mr Luis Cunha helping our athletes as the Strength & Conditioning coach. We have proven ourselves by having three teams qualifying for the upcoming SEA Games.
While we are busy preparing for SEA Games, the work does not stop there. We are already planning for 2020 and beyond, including creating pathways for development, forming age-group training squads, identifying competitions for the high performance teams, strengthening coaching capability, etc. Local events is also important, as it is a platform for people in the fraternity to stay engaged in the sport. After many years of changing events structure, it is imperative to look at a sustainable events calendar. This cannot be done in silo, the clubs and teams as well as SportSG will have to be on-board to make it successful.
On the administrative side of the house, maintaining good governance is key. Systems and structures are put in place as we speak. Our constitution will be amended and it will serve the Association’s needs better. We are excited to have the Charity Award in 2017 and 2018 and hopefully we can “score a hat” in 2019. One of my key focus area is to ensure any conflict of interests are declared, documented and presented to the council. As all our council members are volunteers, some of them may inadvertently have conflict of interests and these be managed in a transparent manner. There will be instances where we have to request council members to recuse themselves from decision if there are conflicts. This is necessary to allow the council members to serve effectively in a transparent manner.
Starting 2019, we also see greater engagement with our partners and sponsors – BIG thank you to Sonak (Asics and Mueller brands), Thorb, Molten, BeachBodyGear, and Sunday Shades for believing in us and supporting our athletes in their journey.
A close link to SportSG (such as SSI, ActiveSG, Facilities Master planning team, etc) was established since the start of 2019 to ensure greater synergies in our work with the government agencies and community. This year, we have great collaboration opportunities with ActiveSG Volleyball Academy and have engaged approximately 1,200 kids aged 6-12 years old. Our coaches also have more opportunities to engage the community and the Association can also begin to build up its financial reserves.
There has also been increased engagement with the local fraternity through social media and the VAS website after the revamped communications strategy. I am grateful to some council members who are extremely proactive in helping to drive this strategy and helped the Association to reach to more in the fraternity. In 2020, I am expecting greater opportunities to engage the fraternity through events and collaboration with SportSG.
Our engagement has gone beyond home ground – our relationship with our SEA counterparts has been smooth and our SEA neighbours have been very helpful towards Singapore. I would like to believe that we have once again put Singapore on the radar of Southeast Asia Volleyball Association (SEAVA) and Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC). This is a huge step forward towards our development.
3. What will you do to encourage more volleyballers to contribute in their own ways to give back to the sport?
I believe in walking the talk – the Association must first demonstrate integrity by doing what we say we will do before others believe in the Association and be willing to partner us. I will continue to engage and rally more people in the fraternity and welcome anyone who genuinely wants to further the sport of volleyball in Singapore.