Subtle changes but same spirit

 Subtle changes but same spirit
Peter Lim (left) posing with an award winner at the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship Award ceremony yesterday. Deserving young athletes are presented with the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship.

SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship to be tweaked, but young athletes will remain its focus

He stood up in front of the mike and stumbled over his words.

The young footballer then rubbed the back of his head, composed himself and said: "How can I be like you?"

His question was directed at footballer Adam Swandi, who at 18 has spent more than a year at Ligue 1 side FC Metz's academy in France, and is already a four-cap Singapore international.

That young footballer's question was the only one asked during a chat with young national athletes during the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship award ceremony yesterday, warming hearts of all present at ITE College Central's auditorium.

And it personified the raison d'etre of the scholarship - aiding and inspiring young athletes - something that will remain, even if its mechanics is set to change in the years ahead.

"Once the athlete achieves, he'll have no problem getting big corporations and sponsors to back him. Our focus will remain on developing the young," said Lim, whose $10 million donation to kick-start the scholarship in 2010 remains the single largest for a local sports scholarship.

"The aim of this scholarship was to fill a vacuum, and now that the vacuum has disappeared, we have to relook at what we're doing - maybe cap the age limit (of scholars in the years ahead)."

Lim was referring to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's Sports Excellence (Spex) Scholarship programme that is aimed aiding athletes within the high performance pathway.

It has led Lim's scholarship to restructure its high performance category into an Under-18 scholarship, and more similar changes can be expected in the years ahead.

"The government is also giving out scholarships through their Spex programme, and there are some overlapping categories - which means we have to relook at our categories and criteria," said Lim who declined to speak on his high-profile purchase of Spanish football club Valencia.


Since its 2010 inception, the scholarship has disbursed some $3 million, and Lim is pleased with how it has stayed true to its purpose of aiding and inspiring young athletes.

This year, more than 1,000 athletes representing 160 schools in 50 sports applied for the scholarship, with some 300 successful applicants receiving their awards yesterday.

"This (scholarship) will help to ease the burden of buying expensive shooting equipment, for sure," said 14-year-old Martina Veloso, who last month won gold in the women's 10m air rifle event at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup.

Personally, I come from a poor family, and this goes a long way to help me in terms of food and transport to training sessions.

- National hockey player Silas Abdul Razak on the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship

This article was first published on July 7, 2014.
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