Special guests Ms Logan Tom and players and legends from Valencia Club de Futbol (VCF) joined 308 student-athletes and their family members at the ITE College East for the annual Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim (SOF-PL) Scholarship awards ceremony today.
Ms Tom, double Olympic silver medallist in the women’s volleyball event at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games and a four-time Olympian representing the United States, joined Mr Peter Lim, principal donor of the Scholarship and owner of the VCF and Mr Chris Chan, board member of the Singapore Olympic Foundation, to present scholarship awards to deserving student-athletes.
At the awards presentation, five VCF players – Santi Mina, Mathew Ryan, Jaume Domenech, Javi Fuego and Paco Alcácer – were also on stage to present the awards and engaged in an interactive question-and-answer session with the audience tackling questions from playing professional football to their most memorable career highlights. VCF legends and LaLiga ambassadors Gaizka Mendieta and David Albelda joined them in presenting the awards to the recipients.
The SOF-PL Scholarship, now in its sixth edition, was launched in 2010 when Mr Lim donated $10 million to the SOF. This donation remains the largest individual donation for a sports scholarship in Singapore. So far, 1,758 scholarships have been awarded to young athletes to pursue their sporting goals. Recipients have to meet a set of criteria such as scoring consistent results in relevant sports competitions to be eligible. Majority of the recipients come from financially challenged backgrounds and demonstrate potential to excel in the sports they play.
This year, the SOF received 1,202 applications from 44 sports representing 194 schools in four categories: Primary ($1,000), Secondary ($2,000), Junior College/Integrated Programme/Tertiary ($3,000), and under-18 High Performance ($5,000). A total of 308 athletes – 38 Primary, 99 Secondary, 126 Tertiary students and 45 under-18 High Performance – qualfiied for the Scholarship.
The Scholarship also supports athletes who are under 18 years of age on a high performance pathway. Forty-five outstanding young athletes qualified for the high performance (under-18) category including Lau Ywen (Fencing), Debbie Soh (Synchronised Swimming), Muhammad Shaheed (Tennis) and Kugapriya Chandran (Athletics).
“Coming from a single parent family, this additional incentive helps to pay for my school fees, the sporting equipment I need for the track and my daily expenses. I am humbled and grateful for the support and recognition. Being recognised for the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship gives me more motivation to train harder and to be a positive role model for the younger athletes,” said Kugapriya, a national sprinter who has competed in the 2013 Asian Youth Games and 28th SEA Games.
“The Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship continues to reach out to young athletes who need the support in their sporting pursuits, this is made possible because of Mr Peter Lim’s generosity and we are grateful for his continued support. Seven former recipients have also done well to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, I wish them all the best in their Olympic journey,” said Mr Ng Ser Miang, Chairman of the SOF.
In the days leading up to the Scholarship, the special guests engaged in acitvities benefitting the community. Ms Tom spent some time with the national beach volleyball team at the Singapore Sports Hub and also visited Dunman High School to conduct a training clinic for more than 40 indoor volleyball student-athletes.
The VCF also met some recipients and beneficiaries from Beyond Social Services, a charity dedicated to reducing delinquency among children and youth from less privileged backgrounds and joined them for a kickabout.
Last year, nine recipients visited Valencia for a training camp as part of the Amünt Valencia Camp. Young aspiring footballers would be excited to know that the Camp would be a permanent fixture on the SOF-PL Scholarship calendar.
Seven former recipients of the Scholarship have qualified Singapore for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, they are: Joseph Schooling (swimming), Quah Zheng Wen (swimming), Jasmine Ser (shooting), Colin Cheng (sailing), Saiyidah Aisyah (rowing), Derek Wong (badminton) and Liang Xiaoyu (badminton). Mr Chris Chan acknowledged their accomplishments and encouraged the recipients to support their endeavours at the upcoming Games.
This is not the first time Olympians and international guests have attended the event as special guests. In 2011, Peter Kenyon, former chief executive of Manchester United Football Club and Chelsea Football Club graced the inaugural event as a special guest. Mark Foster, former swimming Olympian and world champion, visited in 2012 and in 2013, Ms Danka Barteková, a bronze medallist in shooting met the SOF-PL Scholarship recipients at the awards presentation.