He once told me that Singapore's young sportsmen should stop moaning, be proactive and, working with their coaches, come up with a detailed individual programme that would help them to continue to develop athletically while in National Service.
Oon Jin Teik, at the time chief executive officer of the Singapore Sports Council, insisted that if teenagers had the talent, were bold and disciplined, Mindef would help.
Last year, Mindef agreed to defer Joseph Schooling's entry into National Service until August 2016, as the talented swimmer pursues his dream of winning Olympic gold.
I like Oon.
I believe he is passionate about growing and improving Singapore sport, and, crucially, passionate about doing it the right way.
His new appointment as Chief Operating Officer of the Singapore Sports Hub Pte Ltd is a shot in the arm for the consortium, and the country.
A former national swimmer who has two Asian Games bronze medals to show off and Olympian stamped on his passport after he represented the nation at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Oon has intimate knowledge of the requirements of athletes.
He spent six years as CEO of SSC - from 2004 to 2010 - and until recently, was a leading executive at multi-million dollar water solutions company, Hyflux Pte Ltd.
The 51-year-old has chalked up sizeable public and corporate sector experience and also assembled a contact list of leading names pockmarked around the world that he can call upon.
He owns a formidable arsenal and the Sports Hub clearly recognised this.
Oon is a Singapore face at the top management table of the consortium, which features a host of partners from around the globe.
He will replace Poh Yu Khing, who will still be an important member of the Sports Hub's leadership team.
The $1.3 billion project is a unique public-private agreement between the Singapore Government and the consortium.
It is a partnership, not a relationship of schoolmaster and student, and I know Oon understands that.
The consortium wants to generate healthy returns for their considerable investment, while the Government's aim is to turn that part of Kallang into a healthy and vibrant hub of activity for all Singaporeans.