“The secondary school I went to did not have the best environment. My classmates were very rowdy and chaotic. They were always hanging out at void decks and participating in gang-related activities. It was not considered cool to do well in school.

Thankfully, I found sports at a very early age. In primary four, I played basketball competitively, and continued to play all through secondary school and junior college (JC). I took part in the National School Games, and I even did a bit of cross-country.

Sports kept me motivated to stay on track. Because I wanted to get into a JC via DSA or Direct School Admission – that path looks at sporting excellence more than academic performance – I had to stay focused. Sports really taught me discipline and perseverance.

I trained two times a week in school, and another three to four times a week in my own clubs outside. I wasn’t the most academically-disciplined student all-year round, but I knew how to switch it on before the exams. You’d find me studying two to three months before my papers.

I didn’t skip training. But even though I was very motivated, my school only provided training twice a week. The better schools – schools which were more sports-focused – would do three sessions a week, and their holidays were packed with training sessions.

My school didn’t even have indoor courts or enough basketballs for everyone to use. I’m currently coaching the basketball team at Raffles Institution, so I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. There’s a huge discrepancy in the quality of facilities between different schools.

There are students who are very talented and passionate, but they don’t have the same opportunities or resources like the more privileged kids. That’s why I was inspired to start SwimRay, GoalKick Football and Triple Threat Basketball.

For many parents who want their kids to do sports, their traditional mindset is to bring their kids to a sports school, but those are usually expensive. Furthermore, most parents are busy making ends meet. They don’t have the time to send their kids for regular training sessions.

I’ve always believed Singapore’s public space is awesome, but we are not using it enough to develop our athletes and bring local sports to the next level. If countries like Thailand and Vietnam – which are not as developed – can somehow make it work, why can’t we?

With that in mind, we make it easier for kids and parents by travelling to them instead of the other way round. My coaches will bring the necessary equipment and set up training at a public space that’s convenient for you, be it the basketball court or soccer field near home.

Yes, there is this misperception that freelance coaches do not have the same accountability as schools. That is why all my coaches – whether full-time or freelance – work on a payroll. They’re under contract to stay accountable and meet a high standard of excellence.

I trust my coaches – and I depend on them – because there is only so much I can do alone. When I was in university, I was invited by my secondary school to coach basketball. I was looked at as a role model for being the only one from my cohort to make it to university.

But I quickly realised there is only so much one person can do. I was very involved and invested in my students, but I wanted to impact as many lives as possible. It was a challenge as I didn’t have a business background, but I used the COVID period to learn business.

Now, through my different sports academies and structured programmes put in place, I can bring sports to youths who may not have access to quality training otherwise. We recently helped many students get into their schools of choice through DSA.  

We specifically cater to kids, most of whom are below the age of 12, because that’s when the interest to play typically begins. We want to lay the foundation by introducing them to fundamental skills and developing their potential at an early age.

Many people in Singapore complain that we’re a very results-oriented society. When our athletes don’t perform, we say it’s difficult and foolish for anyone to be successful in sports. But instead of complaining, we want to do something that will make an actual difference.

Maybe one day, the same kids we train will grow up and represent the country in major tournaments overseas. I’m doing this to help give as many kids in Singapore – whether they come from privileged backgrounds or not – a chance.” – Ray Kua