By the time you finish reading this interview, you’ll have some new heroes. The first is SportCares, a non-profit Singapore charity. The second group is organisers of the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay.
But the most endearing hero of all is Thaslim, a young man who represents the very best of Singapore’s future! Originally a footballer, he began running after joining the SportCares’ CareRunners athletics programme, an initiative that supports kids who don’t come from the best circumstances.
CareRunners helped groom him from a shy to a confident young man today who successfully came in fifth at this year’s National School Track and Field Championships 800m (A division) race – an improvement of three seconds compared to his timing set in the B division race just last year.
A House Captain in Queensway Secondary School, Thaslim is a passionate volunteer with SportCares, who commits his time to volunteer at the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games as well as being involved in community activations such as Global Youth Service Day.
If his story doesn’t inspire you, nothing will!
RS: When and how did you get into running?
Thaslim: I ran at school but never had the opportunity to train under a qualified coach, so when the CareRunners opportunity came along, I couldn’t turn down the chance to learn under Coach Elangovan’s instruction. I continued to play football until an injury sidelined me. I’ve been running for more than a year.
RS: How has the SportCares CareRunners programme helped you?
Thaslim: CareRunners’ training has helped me become a better, faster runner. I shaved three seconds off my 800m timing at this year’s Inter-School Track & Field Championships compared to last year. Importantly, CareRunners teaches me that I’m never alone. CareRunners friends are like a second family; they motivate me to be a better runner and student.
RS: What personal challenges have you had to overcome?
Thaslim: I had to become a more responsible and independent person when my sister fell ill and her medical bills meant that my parents couldn’t give me any pocket money. I decided to work on weekends and I give them anything extra that I may earn.
RS: What have your learned from CareRunners?
Thaslim: I’ve learned self-discipline — how to juggle homework, work and running. SportCares supports my passion for running; every year, they get me sponsored shoes from New Balance and also a Tom Tom watch. Running relaxes me, and it makes me feel better knowing that SportCares is there to support me.
RS: What’s your training schedule like?
Thaslim: I train every Tuesday and Thursday with my coach and my conditioning schedule on other days is pretty rigorous. It includes strength, endurance and other cross-training workouts. My routine is also dependent upon races I intend to run. For example, for an 800m race, I add 4 reps of 200m runs and as the competition date nears, it’s 2 reps of 400m runs. My programme helps me attain peak performance levels on race day.
RS: Since you benefit so much from CareRunners, do you give back to the community?
Thaslim: I’m thankful that fellow CareRunners look up to me and are inspired by my achievements, so whenever an opportunity arises, I volunteer with SportCares to help people of all ages through community events. I also help prepare meals at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen and assisted para-athletes at The Nila Suite during the last Asean Para Games. Although I don’t speak Thai or Cambodian, I did my best to help them feel at home in the hospitality lounge.
RS: What are your goals and aspirations?
Thaslim: I want to turn my passion for sport into a career in the sports industry. I hope to do well enough in my N-levels this year to gain direct admission to a sports management diploma course at a polytechnic.
RS: Why does Bloomberg Square Mile Relay (BSMR) support the SportCares Foundation over other charities?
Thaslim: I think I’ll let them answer this question!
Bloomberg Square Mile Relay: Through our long-standing partnership with SportCares, we develop annual programmes for youths and adults to improve their lives through sports and leverage the power of sports to engage, educate and inspire.
SportCares Foundation is at the heart of a growing national movement that uses sport as a force for social inclusion, personal empowerment and community bridging. Among those benefiting from this charity are underprivileged children, youths-at-risk, needy seniors, people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities and disadvantaged community members.
SportCares: We are privileged to have had BSMR’s support since the first race was staged. Through this partnership, SportCares has organised more outreach programmes and activities that helped make a positive impact on the lives of children and young adults.
RS: Why is it important to use sport for social good?
Bloomberg Square Mile Relay: Sport has the power to transform lives and engage those in need. Through training, teamwork and commitment, sport teaches skills that help individuals improve their lives.
As part of a team, one grows and learns interpersonal skills that they can apply to all aspects of their lives.
This year, Bloomberg Square Mile Relay is also offering two recipients of beneficiaries from SportCares the opportunity to be part of the planning committee for the race. Through this, Bloomberg Square Mile Relay hopes that they will develop invaluable organisational and professional capabilities, as well as working experience that will benefit them in the future.
RS: Who benefits most from SportCare’s mentorship and guidance?
SportCares: A good question, but hard to answer because so many people’s lives are improved as a result of our intervention. Starting with our values-infused sports programmes, SportCares works to improve the lives of children from low-income families, youths-at-risk, people with disabilities and the disadvantaged through sport.
RS: Who is eligible to receive these benefits?
SportCares: We’re at the heart of a growing national movement to use sport for social good and as such, the most vulnerable among us are eligible.
In the past 3 years, our programmes, events, clinics, workshops and outings have benefited more than 9,000 children, youths and young adults. Going forward, the Foundation aims to endorse and seed the growth of more partner-created initiatives to amplify the impact and extend our reach.
RS: What other entities does BSMR rely upon to help the underprivileged?
Bloomberg Square Mile Relay: In addition to providing S$10,000 to every winning team’s charity of choice, Square Mile Relay also works closely with charity partners like the Unleash Foundation; Agency for Volunteer Service in Hong Kong; Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York; the McGrath Foundation in Sydney; and Emirates Red Crescent in Dubai.
Is Thaslim’s story unique? In some ways, it is. He shows the world that being underprivileged is no excuse for not aiming high and to repay his appreciation to his nation, coach and supporters, he trains in the tradition of Rocky! We admire all that he stands for and celebrate entities like SportCares and BSMR for changing lives, one runner at a time!
Do you know of a Singaporean who deserves a boost and likes to run? How about showing him or her this story and seeing what happens?