Ride with Duric to help needy kids

HE IS best known for driving the ball into the back of the net. But for the next two weeks, national footballer Aleksandar Duric will also drive passengers around for a fee - and a good cause.

He is turning chauffeur to help raise funds for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF), an idea the 42-year-old came up with.

He said: "I've been thinking about doing it for awhile. A lot of people do things like run marathons to raise funds but I thought offering myself as a driver was more unique."

Said SPMF general manager Martina Wong: "I was very excited when Aleksandar first approached me as it is a very novel idea. Many who are his supporters would love to have a ride to do their part for charity. I am sure he will have as much fun raising funds for SPMF as he enjoys his football games."

Duric is no stranger to charity work - he ran the half-marathon at last year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore alongside radio deejay Rod Monteiro and Dr Tan Swee Kheng to raise funds for Sanctuary House, which provides foster care for children.

The welfare of children has always been close to Duric's heart. He and his wife Natasha adopted a baby boy in 2010 because they "wanted to give someone a better life", despite already having two children of their own.

Said the Tampines Rovers captain and striker: "Kids are our future. They're innocent and don't know anything. We should always look after them."

Even if it means squeezing time out of his busy training schedule - Tampines are chasing an S-League and Singapore Cup Double and the Lions will also begin intensive training for the Suzuki Cup in two weeks.

"I have a tight schedule but there's always time for such things. I will try to accommodate as much as I can," he said.

The SPMF was set up in 2000 to help provide pocket money to children from low-income families. It has since raised $52 million and disbursed close to $40 million to more than 94,000 cases. This week, it was expanded to also benefit needy students who move on to post-secondary institutions. It was previously only for children in primary and secondary schools.

ST is partnering Comfort DelGro Rent-A-Car, Moove Media, and Shell for the charity drive.