SINGAPORE — Professional sports may offer a lucrative and fulfilling career for those who make the grade, but for those who could not, they will need a support system to rebuild their careers or make a fresh start.
For Manchester United great Gary Neville, such support system is vital, whether it is in professional or recreational sports.
"It feels particularly harsh to be told you can't make it in professional sports because it's as if your dream has been taken away," the 47-year-old told Yahoo News Singapore during the launch of the Peter Lim Sports Ignite Grant at Cafe Football on Friday (7 October).
"But here's where you need have good parents and good friends around you to make sure you'll get picked up. And then you can find other opportunities to move on with your next stage of the career.
"Sports is all about getting opportunities, making the most of it and having a strong support group behind you to keep going."
$680,000 pledged by Lim to Sports Ignite Grant
Which was why Neville - together with former United teammates Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt - flew halfway around the world this week, to support Singapore's billionaire private investor Peter Lim in his new community project to provide youngsters from less-privileged backgrounds with opportunities to develop their skills and interests.
The Peter Lim Sports Ignite Grant was launched with Lim committing $680,000 to the project, which will be focused on sports. The funds will be primarily used in the following areas:
Providing children and youths with exposure to sports that are not usually accessible to them;
Empowering girls to pursue their interests in sports and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) where there is typically lower female representation;
Developing selected individuals into athletes by equipping them with necessary equipment and training.
The funds will be administered over 5 years from 2023 via The Hut, a children-and-youth centre in Marine Parade which runs educational programmes as well as whole-child developmental programmes.
Donations to sports community
Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng, who is also Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, was the guest-of-honour at the launch of the project, and thanked Lim for his contribution.
"With this grant, we can provide our children and youths with more opportunities and resources for them to explore and discover their hidden strengths, hone new skills and grow their character," he said.
Lim has made several major donations for the sports community in Singapore. In 2010, he donated $10 million to start the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship, and pledged an additional $10 million 2019 to continue funding the scholarship until 2030.
Since its inception, 4,402 scholarships worth $9.2 million have been disbursed to student-athletes for them to pay for competition expenses, sport equipment and school-related expenses.
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