Early Admissions Exercise for polytechnics: Young athlete on track to pursue passion for sports

Jeevina Ganesh, who applied for Republic Polytechnic's diploma in sports coaching course through the Early Admissions Exercise, wants to motivate other students like her and dreams of representing Singapore in netball.
Jeevina Ganesh, who applied for Republic Polytechnic's diploma in sports coaching course through the Early Admissions Exercise, wants to motivate other students like her and dreams of representing Singapore in netball.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Over the course of 10 years, Jeevina Ganesh has filled her schedule with not one, but five different sports - netball, football, aikido, track and field, and classical dance.

"I realised I liked sports in Primary 1 during sports day, when my friends and teachers asked me to join the sports carnival," said Jeevina, laughing at the memory of how she had to be cajoled into participating in the events.

She won the carnival's relay and long jump events, joined her school's track and field team and, in Primary 5, went on to represent Lianhua Primary School in a running event at the national level.

In addition, she took aikido and classical dance classes during weekends, but dropped them to join Admiralty Community Sports Club's girls football team in secondary school.

Now in Secondary 4, 16-year-old Jeevina recently stepped down as captain of Marsiling Secondary School's netball team to focus on her O levels, after leading the team for the past four years.

Her passion for sports was what prompted her to apply for Republic Polytechnic's diploma in sports coaching course through the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE), which allows students to secure places in diploma courses through course-specific talents and interests, rather than academic grades.

"I wanted to continue to develop passion in students like me and be a motivation for them," said Jeevina, who is also aiming to represent Singapore in netball in the future.

The young athlete is privy to the worries and burdens faced by others her age, having experienced them herself.

She especially remembers pushing herself too hard for competitions, struggling to balance sports and studies, and the pain of a loss.

"The biggest difficulty was stress because of school work," she said, adding that her family - consisting of her parents, younger brother and grandfather - was her biggest support. "My dad would pick me up after training when I was tired, and my grandpa would buy me new soccer boots. Whenever I had netball matches, they would come down to watch."

Even though school was tough, quitting sports was never an option for her. Instead, she sees it as a stress reliever.

"When I go to netball training, I feel good. Playing netball is a happy thing and makes me forget about studies for some time."

For Jeevina, the best part about entering through the EAE is that she has a goal to work towards: She still has to pull up her mathematics grades to enter the course, but is grateful for the chance.

"I'm glad I can be recognised for what I love even if I can't study well, instead of being given up on."

Rachel Oh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Young athlete on track to pursue passion for sports'. Print Edition | Subscribe