The Schooling Sports Academy, which bears the family name of Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling, has secured its first corporate sponsor, with lighting company Krislite donating $25,000 yesterday.
Krislite was not the only backer at a fund-raising event at its offices in Loyang last night, with more than $100,000 raised by the end of the evening. This, even though the family are still in the midst of drafting plans for the academy, said Joseph's mother May. They hope to unveil the plans fully later this year.
"We need guidance to run this properly," explained May.
"For example, we need a very good board, to decide on the criteria for which children deserve places."
Said Krislite's group managing director Jimmy Teo, father of national swimmer Teo Zhen Ren, who is a close friend of Joseph: "Like the Schoolings, we strongly believe in giving back to society.
"It's not a big amount, but I think it's important to kick-start the process so other companies can follow suit and make the academy a success."
The idea for a sports academy was first mooted in March by Schooling's parents May and Colin, with initial plans to launch a swim school. Singapore's most successful swimmer on the world stage is looking to get more involved from March, after his National Collegiate Athletic Association commitments in the United States end.
Looking ahead, he said: "I don't want to limit myself to just one role. I can do swim clinics with the kids, talk to them to inspire them, tell them I've been through a tough road as well."
Two Fina swim caps autographed by him were snapped up for $5,000 each yesterday, while a glass sculpture called "the Waves" - handcrafted in honour of Schooling's historic gold-medal win in the 100m butterfly at the Rio Olympics - was sold for $50,000.
Two guests were also invited to take part in a fund-raising challenge with Schooling, playing mini-golf or table football. They donated $1,000 apiece. The 22-year-old returned home on Tuesday following a "disappointing" outing at the Budapest World Championships, where he had to settle for a bronze in the 100m fly.
He is taking part in six events at the SEA Games, including the 50m and 100m fly, and is targeting victory in all six.
"Winning (them all), that's always been my personal expectation. I'm going to do my best to win, to help Singapore out," he said.