'Sport gave me hope and changed my life': Coach Seow Chin Keong

This SEA Games softball gold medallist and founder of Sports by EM3 was not academically inclined, but did not let his results nor the system define his destiny

PHOTO VIA SPORTS BY EM3


Struggling with self-discipline and the demands of school, Sports by EM3 founder, Seow Chin Keong was streamed into EM3 at Primary 5.


The streaming system was introduced in the 1980s to group students based on their academic abilities and was later scrapped in 2008.


In sporting terms, Seow described this as the Division 3 of the local education system, while EM1 was the Champions League.


However, Seow did not let this define him and found something else he was passionate about - sports.


He said, "That’s how the name actually came about. Although I was from EM3, I knew how sports could change lives and that was one of my main objectives when I started Sports by EM3".

Seow Chin Keong celebrates with softball teammates after clinching SEA Games Gold in 2019. PHOTO: STANLEY YEO


Sports by EM3 was founded amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and fuelled by Seow’s love and deep appreciation for sport and how it changed his life.


For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to step out of our comfort zones and adapt to change. This was no different for Seow.


In 2019, Seow and his team won a historic softball gold medal for Singapore at the Southeast Asian Games.


However, the pandemic the next year dashed his hopes of competing again with tournaments around the world being delayed or cancelled and Seow decided to focus on his career instead.


He shared, "The start of the pandemic in 2020 was a time for me to think deeply about my career and what I wanted to do in the long-term."


PHOTO VIA SPORTS BY EM3


"I decided that I wanted to enter the sports industry and be a full-time coach as I wanted to share my love of sport with others and teach value and character building through sports."


Sports by EM3 is grounded in a learning and exploratory philosophy. When browsing their website you’ll come across phrases that emphasise this on almost every page.


Seow believes that enjoyment of sport is what keeps someone active for life and that is what matters the most.


This approach is something Seow learnt as an athlete. "It is important to trust the process before we still can see the results come our way. Looking back at the experiences I had in school or in sports, everything seemed too result driven without an understanding of the entire process", he recalled.

Seow Chin Keong in action for Team Singapore during SEA Games 2019. PHOTO: STANLEY YEO


Despite being a former softball player, Seow also coaches Tennis at Sports by EM3. Seow always had an interest in sports since he was young and tennis was a sport he really wanted to be good at.


His competitive Tennis journey only began when he was a student at Republic Polytechnic where he played and represented the school in tournaments.


The similarities between softball and tennis such as movement patterns, striking or swinging the ball and knowing the distance between the player and the ball helped him pick up tennis more quickly.


Setting up a business on his own and during a pandemic came with new challenges that Seow had to overcome.


"With the uncertainty of sports in the new normal, Sports by EM3 faced an uphill battle right from the start", he said.

PHOTO VIA SPORTS BY EM3


He had to make crucial decisions that could make or break his endeavour, but Seow remained determined.


"I had already failed in the past and had overcome the fear of failure. If anything were to happen, I would just try again and again."


Look up Sports by EM3 on Facebook today and you would be able to read the encouraging reviews left by Seow’s students. A testament to Seow’s never give up attitude.


A typical weekday for him starts with adult tennis lessons at 7am, followed by softball coaching from 3pm - 6pm for different schools, and another round of tennis coaching from 6pm - 10pm before calling it a day at around 11pm.


As a business owner, his only rest day on Monday is spent settling accounts and other administrative matters.


What keeps him going? “The fulfilling part of my job goes beyond sports. Students will actually look up to you as a mentor and life advisor”, said Seow.


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