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Wycombe's O'Nien keen to play for Singapore
O'Nien, likely to face Villa in FA Cup tonight, is keen to represent the Republic
WYCOMBE WANDERERS v ASTON VILLA
(Tonight, 8.45pm, Singtel TV Ch 109 - Eleven)
A future Singapore international could be playing against Aston Villa in the English FA Cup tonight.
Hertfordshire-born Luke O'Nien (pronounced "Oh-nigh-en"), a 21-year-old midfielder playing for League Two side Wycombe Wanderers, is eligible to play for the Republic's national team through his late Singaporean grandfather, Lim Cheng Siong.
Lim, who married an Englishwoman, is the younger brother of the late Lim Kim San, a former long-time Cabinet Minister fondly remembered as "Mr HDB" for solving newly independent Singapore's housing woes in the 1960s.
O'Nien's mother, Monica Lim Hong Geok, married Englishman Terry O'Nien.
In a Skype interview with The New Paper on Tuesday, O'Nien said he was keen to don the Singapore jersey.
"It would be a great opportunity, a great experience, and I'd love to have the opportunity to play for Singapore," he said.
"Playing for the national team is massive. It's an honour.
"Obviously everyone's dream is to play for his country.
"When I was growing up, I always wanted to represent England.
"(But) if the call comes from Singapore... it'd be a proud moment for me and I'd highly consider it."
According to Fifa rules, a player is eligible to represent more than one nation if "his grandmother or grandfather was born in the territory of the relevant Association".
Should the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) be interested in calling O'Nien up for future Lions squads, a written request has to be submitted to the Fifa general secretariat.
The Fifa Players' Status Committee will then approve or reject the request, after verifying the player's eligibility.
There is a similar precedent in South-east Asian football.
In 2012, Raphael Maitimo, a Rotterdam-born footballer who played for Holland's youth national teams, represented Indonesia's senior national team as his grandfather was born in Sumatra.
In response to queries, an FAS spokesman said: "The national team selectors would consider all top-performing players who are eligible to play for Singapore, which includes meeting Fifa eligibility and Singapore citizenship requirements."
Born in Hertfordshire, North-east London, O'Nien joined the academy of Premier League Watford at the age of nine.
He worked his way up to the fringes of the first team and made his league debut for the Hornets in their 3-0 win over Barnsley on March 15 , 2014, but was released when his contract expired at the end of last season.
He joined League Two outfit Wycombe this season and has been a key part of the Chairboys push for promotion.
The side, coached by former QPR midfielder Gareth Ainsworth, are currently sixth in League Two, with just over half the season gone.
O'Nien has proven a fan favourite at Wycombe and even has his own hashtag: #SweetChildONien, a riff on the famous Guns N' Roses song.
He has always been aware of his Singaporean lineage, although he says he has visited the Lion City only twice: in 2000 and 2006.
"Both times, I visited Singapore during the Christmas holidays... I still have family over there," he said. "I didn't get to meet my granddad because he sadly passed away before I was born, but I got to meet Lim Kim San. I have some fond memories of him and where he lived."
With his jet black hair, O'Nien claims he stood out as a kid because of his looks.
"At school, I was also one of the more tanned students," he said. "People always saw that there was something different, but they could never work it out.
"They were always quite surprised as well when I say I'm a quarter-Singaporean. Some people didn't believe me."
Veteran defender Daniel Bennett is the only Singaporean footballer who has played professionally in England.
The 37-year-old, who has signed for Geylang International ahead of the new S.League season, enjoyed two stints (2001-02, 2002-03) with Welsh club Wrexham.
In his second spell, he helped the club win the Football Association of Wales Premier Cup and promotion to the English second division.
Born in England, Bennett moved to Singapore aged three and became a Singapore citizen in Sept 2002.
He went on to earn 122 caps for the Lions, a record that was eclipsed by Shahril Ishak last June.
- Name: Luke O'Nien
- Date of birth: Nov 21, 1994
- Place of birth: Hertfordshire, England
- Height: 1.74m
- Weight: 74kg
- Former team: Watford
Catch O'Nien in action tonight
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Star draws at local Poly open house
Since Thursday, all five polytechnics have been holding their open house, which ends today. KRYSTAL CHIA and SITI OMAR drop in on three to check out the highlights
At Nanyang Polytechnic, the light side of the Force was ever present.
More than 4,000 Lego bricks were used to create a Star Wars-themed Lego maze by the School of Information Technology.
A team of eight students, mostly in their second year, spent two weeks of the term break designing and building the 114cm-by-152cm maze.
Using a commercially available bluetooth software on the iPad, players navigate a Star Wars character, the BB-8 droid, out of the maze.
The droid was bought from the Apple online store for $239.
Team member Wu Jia Jie, 18, said: "We thought that the popularity of Star Wars and Lego would attract secondary school students to our exhibit."
And it worked as he said - most visitors were drawn to the exhibit, asking questions about it and the course.
One of them was Raiyan Yasin, a Secondary 4 student at Greenview Secondary School.
He said: "I was impressed by how the Star Wars font and spaceships looked so much like the real thing in the movies.
"The maze definitely made me want to know more about the course."
Over at another corner in the poly, students and staff from the School of Interactive and Digital Media (SIDM) were fighting a "war" of their own.
Donning suits with camera-sensitive markers and wearing Star Wars helmets, two student actors used lightsabers to perform fight sequences, which were projected onto a screen.
Visitors can interact with the on-screen characters from outside the multi-cam video production studio, and even duel with them.
Four third-year students studying Motion Capture Techniques this semester configured the motion capture software and set up the equipment.
Mr Lucas Tan, 20, an SIDM student pursuing a Diploma in Digital Media Design Animation, said: "We were inspired by the hype surrounding the latest Star Wars movie.
"While it took three weeks for us to complete the exhibit, it feels really good to see something that you work on come to life."
Their course lecturer, Mr Chad Woelki, said this project worked particularly well for an Open House.
He said: "The project is active, visual and interactive.
"The secondary school students are often shocked when they find out this is a live system involving real people."
He added that the project showed visitors how motion capture, by having real actors, speeds up the process of animation and makes it more realistic.
Foo Teck Hui, a former Ang Mo Kio Secondary student, will be receiving her O-level results on Monday and intends to pursue animation in a polytechnic.
She said: "This is my first time seeing a motion capture project, and I am impressed that animation students at NYP get to learn such techniques."
Bread on the tracks
A train model at the Diploma in Restaurant and Culinary Operations' booth at Republic Polytechnic's open house did not just look good, it smelled good too.
More than 15kg of bread flour was used to create the model measuring 1.3m by 25cm by 15cm.
Salted dough was used to preserve the bread over the course of the Open House.
NO RECEPTION: Aluminium foil was used to create a room that blocks mobile signals.
Created by the course's full-time chef instructor Jaslyn Leong and second-year student Tan Yan Chan, 22, the bread train took a month to design and make.
They were inspired by the Open House theme for the School of Hospitality (SOH). Ms Leong, who has 18 years of culinary experience, said they wanted their exhibit to be linked to SOH's theme of Your Passport to the World.
She said: "With the train as an increasingly convenient mode of cross-country travel today, we thought it was a fitting idea that symbolised travel and adventure."
Bread-making is also part of the course curriculum.
Ms Tan, who volunteered for the project, had wanted to learn the techniques of bread design but gained an even bigger takeaway.
She said: "I feel that I've become a more patient person after this project, which requires a step-by-step process of making, baking and shaping the dough."
At the Diploma in IT Service Management booth, curious visitors streamed in and out of a "cage" made of aluminium foil that cuts off mobile signals.
The exhibit was inspired by the Faraday Cage, a 19th-century invention which is an enclosure made of conductive metal screens that block electric fields.
The team of 10 staff and students from the School of Infocomm wanted to let visitors experience what it would be like without mobile reception to better appreciate mobile networks.
From robots to runway fashion
Mr Thaddius Ho, 18, a second-year student from the Diploma in Game Design & Development course, was supposed to just man the IT Hacklab booth at Temasek Polytechnic's open house last Thursday.
But he got bored and built a robot from Lego pieces.
It was so good it became one of the exhibits.
YOUNG CREATORS: Mr Edmund Yeo with his robocar (above), sign-language robot TPinokio and its creators, and Miss Cherie Chan with the outfit she designed. YOUNG CREATORS: Mr Edmund Yeo with his robocar, sign-language robot TPinokio and its creators, and Miss Cherie Chan with the outfit she designed (above).
Mr Ho said: "I was feeling bored so I thought, why not just create a simple robot on the spot?"
His robot, which can move along a programmed route,is made from a Lego Mindstorms set, which he modified.
The robot, which took about 15 minutes to create, was a hit and attracted visitors to their booth.
Another student, Mr Edmund Yeo, 20, took two days to make the robocars that were also on display.
"I made them during a workshop and I never expected them to be showcased for open house," said the a second-year student from the Diploma of Information Technology.
"It's great that visitors can learn and see how our creations work."
Those who know sign language will also be pleased to see TPinokio, a robot created by three final-year students from the Diploma in Mechatronics.
The robot, which can do simple sign language, such as saying "hi", was inspired by the Ironman movie.
Mr Wilbert Soetanto, 20, a third-year student from the Diploma in Mechatronics, said: "We thought it would be cool to create a big, magnificent robot that looks like Ironman.
"But we also wanted the deaf and mute to be pleasantly surprised when they see our robot."
There was also a fashion show to showcase the clothes designed by students from the Diploma in Apparel Merchandising and Design (AMD).
Said Miss Cherie Chan, 20, a third-year student from AMD: "It was a surprise when I found out the outfit I made (with another student) was chosen to be showcased.
"It's wonderful as it instils a sense of pride in us for ourselves and our school."
Poly graduates on finding their true calling
Poly graduates share how pursuing interests helped fulfil their dreams
Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a fashion designer.
But when the time came for her to pick her desired polytechnic course, Miss Vienn Han, 21, put Early Childhood Studies at Temasek Polytechnic (TP) as her first choice.
Miss Han attributes the 180-degree change to her father's foresight.
"He's seen me since young being very comfortable with children. Looking back, I think he is a very wise man," she said.
Of his daughter's decision to become an early childhood educator, Mr Han Chee Kwang, 61, said: "I'm happy she's chosen a job which is suitable for her character."
She was a speaker at the Beyond O Level Seminar on Jan 9.
Miss Han said: "It was a difficult decision that required a lot of courage.
"Even my aunt, who is a fashion designer, told me I should go for Early Childhood Studies.
"I came to the conclusion that what I learn in the course will come in handy anyway, since I'm going to be someone's mum one day."
By the end of her first semester, Miss Han knew she had made the right choice.
"I have never been academically inclined, but once I started (school), I got really good results. It just came naturally to me. Everything seemed to fall into place," she said, her eyes lighting up.
During school holidays, Miss Han took up relief teaching "just to be sure of my ability to communicate with children".
"It all felt very natural to me," she said of her relief teaching stints, one of which was in a private preschool and another in My First Skool..
Miss Han received the PAP Special Industry Foundation Award for her excellent performance during her internship.
She went on to secure a $25,000 scholarship from the Early Childhood Development Agency and NTUC First Campus.
After graduating in 2014, she started work at My First Skool, NTUC First Campus' childcare arm.
Miss Han said the children sometimes inspire her to look at things from a simpler, different perspective.
"Some things, like how the tables are arranged, are done in a certain way. We don't think of changing it, but one day, the children suggested arranging them in a different way.
"I found myself thinking, why not? Since then, they have been coming up to me with various suggestions," she said.
When asked if she wonders how different life could have been if she had pursued design, she simply shook her head.
"If you don't think of what could have happened, I think it means you truly love what you're doing," she said.