HCI's Quek recipe for success: Coaching and cooking
HCI's Quek not only coaches, but also cooks for his charges, who have been winning for years
It is not uncommon for Singaporeans to take pictures of their food, but the Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) canoeing team do it for an unusual reason.
Rather than post the pictures on social media, they send it to their teacher-coach, Quek Wee Tong.
The 33-year-old, who holds nutrition lessons for his young athletes, checks what they eat and how much they eat via WhatsApp.
"There is always an emphasis on nutrition, some who don't eat well don't perform as well," said Quek, who has been nominated for The New Paper's S Soocelaraj Award that honours teacher-coaches.
"But these are just gimmicks to make them feel that it's fun. We can look at what they're eating and suggest changes to their diet."
Quek has also cooked for his team after Saturday trainings, and has even taught them to prepare meals like curry chicken.
Quek has come a long way himself, having known nothing about canoeing when he first started teaching at HCI seven years ago.
He taught himself the sport so that he could lead his team better, and then put his charges through intensive training.
It was not long before the team started winning.
In 2010, Quek led the A Division Boys to the school's first championship in nine years. In 2013, the A Girls followed it up with their title, a first in 12 years.
Both teams have retained their crowns till today.
Nutrition is only part of Quek's efforts to develop well-rounded student-athletes.
To help them do well academically, the A-level physics teacher makes his team study at 6.40am every weekday for an hour before school, which promotes good sleeping habits, and after training on Saturdays.
Said 17-year-old canoeist, Nicole Tan: "Even if we had training until late the day before, and are too tired to do our homework at night, we can focus on it the next morning. It's more effective and productive."
Quek always felt that canoeing was a highly individual sport, so in 2011 he started the 24-hour static kayaking challenge to encourage his team to be more considerate of others.
It has since become an annual fund-raising event in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore (MDAS) and, last year, they collected $27,000.
"Because it's so gruelling, you start to learn to paddle for the person beside you. You are all in it together," Quek explained.
"Also, because we're working for MDAS, the students know who they are fighting for and they cannot give up. They have to persevere to earn every dollar."
It helps that Quek ensures every training is purposeful, says HCI canoeist, Jerika Sia, 17.
"He makes us reflect on our training, and he sends us videos to make us think about techniques, to gain more insight," she said.
Quek says it all boils down to humility. "It is still down to the character. The canoeing kids are humble and hardworking," he said.
"As far as I can, I try to live the values I teach them. I lead by example, it is the only way I know how to lead."
It is still down to the character... As far as I can, I try to live the values I teach them.
— Hwa Chong Institution teacher-coach Quek Wee Tong
Soilbuild Group is a leading integrated property group with a successful track record of constructing, developing and managing an award-winning portfolio of residential and business space properties.
Through its history spanning over close to four decades, Soilbuild believes firmly in integrating corporate citizenry principles into its business.
We are committed to supporting programmes and initiatives that benefit communities and environments in which we operate, with the Group's Corporate Social Responsibility efforts dedicated towards learning, developing sustainable environments and nurturing talents for the built environment.
One of the key programmes which the Group has been supporting since 2012 is The New Paper's S Soocelaraj Award for teacher-coaches.
The award recognises the individuals behind the young sports stars, teacher-coaches who spare no effort in guiding their students to success in addition to their primary role as educators in the classroom.
Their dedication towards guiding these stars is second to none.
"During my days in school, every star sportsman had a teacher-coach behind him.
"The lessons on perseverance for success imparted by these mentors have continued to guide me in my business," said Lim Chap Huat, Executive Chairman of Soilbuild Group.