Teacher-coach Seah is River Valley High's pride
River Valley's Seah wins on and off the court
While he pushes his students to strive for success on court, it is not just about winning for Seah Kiam Meng.
The River Valley High School badminton coach also preaches personal responsibility, as he sets out to mould the right kind of youngsters.
It is why his players have to sweep floors.
"We tell them the badminton hall is their second home. They have a responsibility to take care of the facility. They clean up before a game, and after training," said the Physical Education teacher.
For the 47-year-old, who has been nominated for The New Paper's S Soocelaraj Award for teacher-coaches, the values learned through sports will stay with a person forever.
When he was at Jurong Junior College, Seah even paid for one of his shuttlers to go China for an Overseas Service Learning Programme.
"I was thinking: 'she would be able to contribute but cannot afford it'. I can afford it, so why not I pay for her, she can go there and help," he said.
That was more than five years ago, but the student remembered and recently invited Seah to her wedding.
While he keeps in contact with ex-students, it is the current batch of players that brings a smile to his face when asked about his proudest moment as a teacher-coach.
In particular, singles player Lee Shu En, who told Seah she was losing interest in the sport earlier this year, ended up winning a match in the national finals.
The 18-year-old felt she had performed badly last season and was also overwhelmed with the upcoming A level examinations but, with Seah's encouragement, she decided to buckle down in training.
"She played very well. After the game, she said, 'Mr Seah I made it'. That actually made my day," said the proud teacher-coach.
Seah led River Valley's A Division Girls team to the school's first National Championship in badminton this year.
Last year, the team finished second to Raffles Junior College and the girls then told their teacher they would work hard to fulfil his dream of winning it all this year.
They did just that, beating champions RJC in the quarter-finals and eventually overcoming Hwa Chong Institute in the final to take gold.
To celebrate, Seah and a fellow teacher treated the team to a Japanese buffet dinner.
Such gatherings are not uncommon for the team. Apart from "mini-meetings" with players to assess their performance, the badminton teachers organise camps and an annual barbecue, where parents are invited.
"That's how we get them to gel, and to talk," said Seah.
For the girls, the badminton hall is a second home and Seah is a father figure.
Clariis Woon, 17, summed it up when she said: "If any of us has problems, he's the easiest to approach.
"He doesn't question your opinions and he listens."
If any of us has problems he’s the easiest to approach. He doesn’t question your opinions and he listens.
— River Valley shuttler Clariis Woon, on teacher-coach Seah Kiam Meng