Standing at 1.60 metres, few would guess that Charlene Ong is a netball player.
She may not be tall, but the 15-year-old more than compensates for it with her aggression and speed on court.
And the Secondary Two student from St Margaret's Secondary School was a key member of the team - she boasted an average of eight interceptions a game - that helped them secure a top-four spot in the National and Zonal Inter-School Championship this year.
She never shirks a challenge and plays hard but, off the court, Charlene is reserved and shy, although the topic of netball always gets her talking.
"I have to always be focused and do my best for the team," she told The New Paper recently.
"I have to be aggressive and use my speed to help me around the court."
Charlene, who skips 500 times at every training session - the team train four hours a week - picked up the sport at age eight and, while she is very much in love with the game, she has also ensured her studies are not ignored.
She excels in both her academic and sporting commitments and was the recipient of the North West CDC's Outstanding All Rounder Student Award in 2012 and the School Advisory Committee (SAC) Sports Scholarship Award in 2013 and 2014.
She says she would not have been able to do it without the support she gets at home and in school.
"My parents ferry me to and from school after my training so I can catch up on my studies and rest," Charlene said.
"The teachers provide me with consultation after school hours to recap the lessons I have missed due to competitions."
Lum Ying Lee, the teacher-in-charge of netball at St Margaret's, praised Charlene for her tenacity and attitude on and off the court.
Said Lim: "Charlene has a quiet determination and a great spirit which drives her on to achieve her goals, no matter what they are."
Mature beyond her years, Charlene has already mapped out the plan for her future.
She intends to pursue a Diploma in Sports Coaching at Republic Polytechnic after her 'O' Levels.
Her goal is to be a netball coach. And she has already begun preparing for her coaching badges.
"I usually go back to my primary school to train my juniors and assist my (former) coach, which helps a lot," said the former Evergreen Primary School student.
"Being confident and working hard usually help me to stay on the right track and achieve my goals."
This article was first published on Sep 11, 2014.
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