SINGAPORE – In 2012, Alina Seow began horse riding as part of physical therapy for her cerebral palsy condition.
She has gone on to participate and win prizes in local competitions after being inspired by the Singapore equestrian Paralympic team and the Singapore Management University undergraduate also has hopes of competing in the Paralympic Games one day.
But pursuing her passion is also expensive and Seow has had to scrimp and save to afford lessons.
The 22-year-old received a boost on Tuesday (Nov 9) as the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) announced that she was one of the five recipients of the inaugural Majulah Para Sports Bursary 2021.
The bursary, which aims to help persons with disabilities engage meaningfully and successfully in sport, was introduced by SDSC this year in partnership with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Singapore Foundation.
A total of $30,000 was awarded to the five recipients, who were selected from more than 40 applicants.
Recipients of the bursary are expected to use the awarded sums for their pursuits in sports, in areas such as coaching, classification, competitions, transportation, nutrition and equipment.
Seow said: “I have been training very hard and my family has made a lot of sacrifices for me to chase this dream.
“I am hoping to have the opportunity to travel overseas for training, classification and to participate in international competitions.”
Another recipient was swimmer Robby Yeo, who has Williams Syndrome and pulmonary stenosis.
Robby, who picked up swimming as therapy when she was 10 months old, now trains six times a week and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Paralympic bronze medallist Theresa Goh.
The 15-year-old is now preparing for the Dec 2-6 Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG) in Bahrain, which is her first international meet and the first time that she is representing Singapore at a competition.
Coincidentally, Goh is the chef de mission for the AYPG.
Said the Grace Orchard School student: “I am very happy and excited to receive the bursary. It will help me to get more training done before my first international competition at the Asian Youth Para Games, and to afford a good swim suit to compete in.”
The other three recipients are boccia players Edmund Tan, Neo Kah Whye and Toh Sze Ning. Tan is also a powerchair soccer player.
Ryosuke Shimizu, JCCI Singapore Foundation secretary general, said: “We believe that persons with disabilities should be entitled to quality of life just like non-disabled individuals, and encouraged to pursue their aspirations equally.
“We are therefore pleased to be the founding donor for the Majulah Para Sports Bursary and we hope to see others step forward to support this programme.”
SDSC executive director Kelly Fan added: “Besides supporting top para athletes like Yip Pin Xiu (swimmer) and Syahidah Alim (archer), SDSC works with our partners to help other individuals with disabilities transform their lives through various levels of sport participation.
“We are thankful to have the foundation walk this long but precious journey with us, and hope we can continue to help more people in the years forward.”
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