The EW Barker Endowment managed by Temasek Foundation supported the Singapore Sports School’s School-Within-A-School (SWS) programme from its inception in 2011 till 2019.

The SWS programme allows talented student-athletes to pursue their sport at an even higher level without forgoing desired academic outcomes. The programme offers a greater customisation of academic support for student-athletes, so that they can travel and compete more frequently. Student-athletes in the SWS programme have achieved good results in the past eight years – many of whom have claimed podium spots in local and major international competitions.

Student-athletes in sports such as Badminton and Table Tennis benefit significantly from the SWS programme, as these sports require high technical skills and repetitive training. Two of them share with us how the SWS programme has helped them better balance their academics and sport commitments:

Koen Pang Yew En, Table Tennis

His achievements so far….

2017 saw Koen crowned top paddler in local and regional competitions. He topped the ranks at national age-group competitions in 2017, winning the Boys Under 15 and Under 18 titles at the SAFRA-STTA Table Tennis Championships and Dr Ng Eng Hen-STTA Table Tennis Championships. At the Dr Ng Eng Hen-STTA Table Tennis Championships, he also won the Men’s Open Singles Gold medal, after sweeping all three Singles golds. At the regional level, he scored hat-trick of gold medals at the Southeast Asian Junior Table Tennis Championships in June 2017, when he emerged champion in the Boys Cadet Singles, Doubles and Team events.

How has the SWS programme benefitted you?

“The flexible timetable has definitely helped me manage my studies and training. Being in the SWS programme allows me to practice longer hours during the day and study at night. When we go overseas for a competition, our teachers will help us to arrange makeup classes, so they definitely play a big part to help me balance my sports and academics.

When I compete or train overseas, the school and teachers are always very supportive, and they would be rooting for me instead of being worried about my studies. They want me to do my best overseas, so they ensure that arrangements are made for me to attend makeup lessons. I can then focus on my competition or training and catch up on my studies when I am back in Singapore.”

Who inspires you the most?

“I started playing table tennis when I was five years old. My mother and brother got me interested in the sport, and I began developing a passion for it as I felt it was fun and yet challenging at the same time. My role model is Timo Boll, a professional table tennis player from Germany. He always maintains a positive mindset and has very good sportsmanship. He inspires me to want to do better.”

Crystal Wong Jia Ying, Badminton

Her achievements so far….

Crystal is one of Singapore’s top Women’s Doubles players in the open category. She had a career high of World No. 62 on Badminton World Federation’s Women’s Doubles rankings in February 2018 – this placed her as Singapore’s top Women’s Doubles player with partner Ong Ren-ne. Crystal also contributed significantly to Singapore’s 5th place-finish in the Mixed Team event at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, while ending her campaign in the Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events amongst the top 8 pairs. She is now in her third year of Singapore Sports School’s extended International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

How has the SWS programme benefitted you?

“The SWS programme allowed me to train more intensively during the day and attend classes in the evening. We have two training sessions daily, and with the SWS programme, the class size is small, so our teachers track our progress closely and give us more attention. There was a difference after being in the programme because I had more time to train each week. The extended training hours helped me to practice more and increases my chances to qualify to compete overseas.”

Who inspires you the most?

“My passion for badminton grew deeper after I enrolled in Singapore Sports School, as I was going through the tough training sessions alongside my teammates. At that time, the national team was training in our school, so I often looked up to them to do well in the sport. I hoped to become like them and represent Singapore one day.

“Japanese badminton players Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo are also my role models. I aspire to be like them because they are humble, hardworking and very disciplined. They are one of the best players in the world, and I often watch them play to feel inspired.

“My next major game would be the Capas 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Leading up to the 2019 SEA Games, I hope to improve on my world ranking and achieve better results competitions.”

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