Vinson Way of tough love wins Joel the S Soocelaraj Award
S Soocelaraj Award winner Vinson works even harder on his student-athletes' character
He had just pocketed a cool $3,000 after winning the S Soocelaraj Award yesterday, but First Toa Payoh Primary School teacher Joel Vinson is not one to bask in his own glory.
It didn't take him long to start thinking about his basketball players again.
He said: "With the prize money, I can get more specialised equipment for the kids.
"Every school has the basic stuff. But now I can get specialised equipment and develop the kids individually."
Such selflessness and dedication are exactly why he came out on top in a field of 10 finalists in this year's S Soocelaraj Award, which was presented at The New Paper School Sports Star Award ceremony at the Singapore Sports School yesterday.
The annual award - named after the late S Soocelaraj, who was a revered teacher-coach at Victoria School - honours the best teacher-coaches in the country.
For Vinson, who trains First Toa Payoh's basketball team, winning is secondary.
He believes nothing is more important than instilling discipline and the right values in his pupils, especially at such a young age.
Said the 29-year-old: "The sports scene in Singapore is coming up fast and furious and they (the youngsters) need good coaches so they know what they should and should not do, so that they can distinguish between right and wrong."
Sometimes, the "Vinson way" calls for tough love.
He once removed his captain from a game for pushing his opponent, despite the referee missing the infringement completely.
On another occasion, in a quarter-final match in the South Zone Schools basketball championship, he left four of his five starting players on the bench because they had skipped their supplementary class earlier.
Said Vinson, whose boys' team finished third in this year's National Primary Schools Basketball Championships: "I want the best for my kids.
"They come to me not knowing how to play, they come to me with their own set of values.
"So my main goal is, when they leave my hands, they should be doing the right thing, and it should come to them as second nature.
"It's just that the tool I use is basketball, instead of the usual way through academics."
His emphasis on developing the character of his students owes to the lessons he learnt on the court when he was a school basketball player.
As a student, he captained the Serangoon Gardens Secondary School team and moved on to be vice-captain at Catholic Junior College.
"For me, I learnt them (values) through basketball. So, I want to pass them on through basketball," he said.
When The New Paper sent out invitations to schools and the public to nominate candidates for this year's S Soocelaraj Award, Vinson was the only teacher-coach to be nominated twice, by a current colleague and a former one.
On his win, he said: "I'm shocked. I didn't expect it.
"It most definitely motivates me as a teacher-coach, but this is not my main motivation.
"This is an affirmation of what I've been doing."