Nominees #1 and #2: Justin Hui (football) and Kan Weng Yean (squash)

ST Young Athlete of the Year: Growing into leadership roles

Footballer Justin Hui and squash player Kan Weng Yean are two out of the four nominees for ST's Young Athlete of the Year. The other two are gymnast Lincoln Forest Liqht Man and judoka Wang Jinghan.
Footballer Justin Hui and squash player Kan Weng Yean are two out of the four nominees for ST's Young Athlete of the Year. The other two are gymnast Lincoln Forest Liqht Man and judoka Wang Jinghan.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Kan Weng Yean and Justin Hui are captains with similar experiences despite their different ages and sports

They may play different sports in different divisions of the Schools National Games, but Kan Weng Yean and Justin Hui have much in common in their experiences as captains of their schools' respective sports teams.

For 14-year-old Weng Yean, he had to display ice-cool composure as captain of the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) C Division squash team at last year's Schools National boys' final but, more importantly, he learnt the importance of teamwork and camaraderie.

Recalling how he fought to stay calm before playing the second tie of the final as his team trailed 0-1, the teenager said: "At first it was quite stressful. After I lost one of the sets (in the match), my team-mates came over and gave me some advice, and that really helped."

"At that point, I think being captain and the pressure of winning my game as captain was not really the issue - it was just about being a member of the team and having a part to play in the win."

Weng Yean won his match to level the score and ACS(I) eventually prevailed to win their first C Division squash title since 2010.

Hui, then-skipper of Meridian Junior College's football team, acknowledged that being a leader comes with the responsibility of setting a good example. That aside, there is no gulf in status between him and his team-mates.

"Off the field, there are many things my team-mates have to cope with - whether it's studies or their personal problems," said the 20-year-old, who scored a hat-trick in his team's 3-1 victory at last year's A Division football final.

"We're still family, we're there for each other and we help each other out. My role as captain is merely like a big brother to lead them in the proper direction."

Hui and Weng Yean are two of four nominees for The Straits Times Young Athlete of the Year award, an extension of ST's Star of the Month and Athlete of the Year accolades, which are backed by F&N's 100Plus.

Adopting a "no-nonsense" attitude on the field, Hui believes his experience of playing for S-League side Hougang United has made his captain's role easier.

He said: "In terms of capability, I don't have to be as worried that I'm not up to standard, so I can focus more on leading my team-mates and teaching them".

"As captain, if you have to punish them, you need to do it so that the rules are enforced," he added.

"The boys are very mature and I don't really have to motivate them because they're all very disciplined and know what they signed up for when they joined football.

"I also have fellow captains who, together with me, continuously advise and believe in motivating our team-mates through encouragement instead of scolding."

Weng Yean, who competes in the B Division this year, said: "I didn't really have much of an issue balancing the (captain's role) with being their friend, as my team-mates understand that the rules need to be followed no matter what.

"If they're ever not following the safety rules, I will remind them and they don't object to it.

"It was an honour to be picked as captain, and I'm thankful my team-mates were cooperative and hard-working during training."