SINGAPORE - When he first joined Qihua Primary School, he would miss classes for prolonged periods of time.
But principal Lee Hui Feng and a few of her staff visited the pupil at his home, where they found out that he was a sepak takraw player.
That led to the teachers in charge of the co-curricular activity inviting him to train with the school team.
And what started out as appearances at sepak takraw training sessions eventually translated into more regular classroom attendance.
It is, said Lee, an example of the transformative power of sport.
"While what we do seems like work outside of school, we see the meaning, we see how sports have actually developed the children," added Lee, who has been involved with the Singapore Primary School Sports Council (SPSSC) for 32 years.
"They learn to be more resilient, they also apply that in their learning and their studies as well."
She was speaking on the sidelines of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the SPSSC and the Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) at Resorts World Sentosa on Wednesday (Oct 30).
The 58-year-old was among the 148 principals and teachers who were recognised for their service to the councils over the years.
Apart from being able to watch students grow, another highlight for Lee has been working with her colleagues who are equally committed to enhancing school sports.
On her proudest moment so far, Lee, who has served as SPSSC's chairman for the last 12 years, said: "As educators, when we see the students displaying good sportsmanship and valuing integrity over winning, it warms our hearts."
Much has changed since she ventured into school sports, but these are changes that she welcomes.
For instance, the emphasis has shifted away from tangible achievements like medals to ensuring that students have more chances to play.
"We have not removed the rigour of the competition because we have given the children more opportunity to participate and compete," she insisted.
It was a sentiment that guest of honour Second Minister for Finance and Education Indranee Rajah shared in her speech.
She said: "School sports must continue to be an uplifting force for our students, bringing together people regardless of race, language, religion or social class to strive, learn and grow together."
Following recent changes to the sporting competitions under the junior division of the National School Games (NSG) earlier this year, more amendments are set to be made.
Reviews of the senior division for primary schools and the C Division competitions for secondary schools have just begun, although the changes will not be implemented in time for next year's NSG. No further details were available.