SINGAPORE — Their dedication to their son’s Olympic gold medal dream saw a victory in Rio de Janeiro that inspired and galvanised a nation.
Now, swimmer Joseph Schooling’s parents, May and Colin, want to do more for Singapore with a new sports academy they are launching. Called the Schooling Sports Academy, it aims to raise the level of sports here.
Plans are still in the development stage, with a soft launch planned by June. The Schoolings are aiming for the entire framework to be finalised by the end of the year.
Mrs May Schooling told TODAY that the initial focus is on establishing a swim school. However, there are plans to expand and to include other sports.
“A Schooling Swim School will be launched later in the year, while we are currently working with a few partners from different sports, which will come under the umbrella of the Schooling Sports Academy,” she said.
“The Schooling Sports Academy is created with a few objectives in mind. It is not only focused on training and competition. It will also provide athletes with a comprehensive and structured programme that covers all elements essential to high performance such as nutrition, performance analysis and even media training.
“We will also look at bringing in world-class coaches to help with the development of coaches in Singapore with the hope of improving the standard of coaching here.”
Mr Hafidz Ja’afar, the Schoolings’ official representative, said the academy will first focus its attention on developing its own customised programmes and tests for its swim school.
“We don’t want to be like a normal swim school in Singapore, where coaches train you to pass (nationwide standard) tests,” said Mr Hafidz.
“The work that needs to be put in is a lot because we need to come up with our own system, structure, framework and (figure out) who can endorse it. We want it to grow big ... we want it to be possibly the national syllabus (in future).”
He said the school will work with partners for the other sports.
“For other sports, we think there are certain (development) gaps we can (help to) fill, but we want to work with partners,” he explained.
“For example, if it’s tennis, we will work with somebody who runs a tennis academy, as well as partners who have the resources to invest.”
They will look for top players or coaches to conduct clinics for such a partner academy. Experts in fields such as media training, biomechanics and psychology can also be brought in to share their insights with athletes across different sports.
Even though it has not been officially launched, the Schooling Sports Academy is already working on its first event — a collaboration with Malaysia’s D Swim Academy (DSA).
The partnership will see former Singapore swimming head coach Sergio Lopez, who played a key role in grooming Schooling into an Olympic champion, brought in to conduct a coaching clinic for close to 1,000 DSA members in Kuala Lumpur next month.
The Spaniard left Singapore last August to become the associate head coach at Auburn University in the United States.
“They (DSA) came to us because we are the experts in high performance (programmes) and this (concept) will go for other (sports) academies as well,” Mr Hafidz told TODAY.
“Our aim is to try to bring in expertise to help in a way that it brings up the whole sports system, similar to what we are doing with Sergio.”
According to Mr Hafidz, Joseph will not be involved with the Schooling Sports Academy for now, as the 21-year-old is still an undergraduate at the University of Texas.
According to National Collegiate Athletics Association rules, he cannot be involved in any form of endorsement activities.
But Mr Hafidz said: “He can play a part as a role model. Right now, he is in a position where he can inspire others and people can learn from him.”