SINGAPORE - In recent times, Singapore's table tennis players were encouraged to concentrate on their playing careers, pursuing their university degrees after retirement.
Now, the likes of Clarence Chew, Yee Herng Hwee and Pang Xuejie will have the option of doing both at the same time.
On Tuesday, the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) signed a memorandum of understanding with SIM University (UniSIM).
The five-year partnership will see the institution offer two scholarships, to the tune of about $7,000 a year each, to outstanding paddlers recommended by the STTA.
The selected athletes can use the scholarship for Continuing Education and Training courses when they turn 18, and undergraduate courses when they turn 21.
STTA president and MP for Nee Soon GRC, Lee Bee Wah, said: "This MOU is very different from others we've signed in the past... the paddlers can take courses, which are very modular and flexible, whenever time permits them in the evenings and during certain months where they are not so busy."
UniSIM president, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, added: "Our intention is to recognise the labours of our athletes who train very hard and spend a lot of time and effort doing, in a sense, national service.
"The structure that SIM University has is... only modular in the sense that they can take a course at any one time." He added that the university is open to offering more than two slots each year if the STTA finds deserving athletes who are keen to take up the offer, although the paddlers will still have to meet age and other admission requirements for their desired courses.
Prof Cheong said UniSIM is open to having similar collaborations with other national sports associations.
Yee Herng Hwee, 16, and 17-year-old Clarence Chew, both said the MOU gives them more options.
Herng Hwee, who is putting her studies on hold to train for next year's Youth Olympic Games, said: "It is a very good opportunity for me because I can continue with full-time table tennis and not drop my studies at the same time.
"I am interested in engineering - my sister is studying mechanical engineering at Imperial College and both my parents are engineers."
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