A star, with dad's help

A star, with dad's help
Nanyang Junior College volleyball captain and player, Mark Shen is hoping to represent Singapore and play on the international stage as his father did, when he played for the China national team.

He might have been built for the sport, but Nanyang Junior College's (NYJC) volleyball captain Mark Shen didn't like the game when he first played it.

His first love was basketball and standing at 1.96m, the 18-year-old was naturally drawn to it.

Back then Shen actually felt volleyball was for girls.

"It was only when I came to secondary school and saw my seniors play volleyball so well that I slowly started to change my mind about it," he told The New Paper yesterday.

"That, and also my father's history with the game."

Shen's father, Shen Keqin, was part of China's Olympic volleyball team in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Personal coach

A coach for the past two decades, Keqin - who heads NYJC's volleyball team - introduced his son to the game at age seven.

Personally coached by his father every Sunday for a long time, Shen emerged as a star in his school's volleyball team, which won the national title for the past two years.

NYJC's head of department for Physical Education, Koh Siew Leng, said: "Mark can play almost every position on the court and that's not easy in volleyball.

"He can set, spike, defend; if anyone sees him in action, he would be very impressed.

"Most importantly, he's a leader among his peers. Whenever he plays, his teammates feel very assured."

Shen, who represented the Singapore (combined) schools team at the ASEAN Schools' Games (ASG) in 2012 and 2013, is modest about his ability.

He is honest, though, about the pressure he receives from both his teammates and his father.

"Sometimes I feel it's unfair how my dad exerts extra pressure on me and there are times when I get sick of the game," he said.

"But I realise, in the end, that my dad wants the best for me. He pushes me on so that I'll get stronger."

Shen has yet to play volleyball at the national level, but he's hoping for a chance to emulate his father's achievements.

"I'd love to play professionally for Singapore, maybe after National Service," he said.

"If not, then I'd love to play more beach volleyball. I'm planning to take that up seriously in the future."

aakasim@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Aug 7 in The New Paper.


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