The launch of the Nicol David Organisation and its flagship programme ‘Little Legends’ will make a significant difference to the lives of children in Malaysia, says the head of the PSA Foundation, Adriana Olaya.
The non-profit was launched earlier this month in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, by the organisation’s namesake, Malaysia’s former World No.1 and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Nicol David, and Colombian former World No.81 Mariana De Reyes.
Under the ‘Little Legends’ initiative, a subsidised after-school programme, children aged 8-12 from low and middle income families will take part in a five-year programme comprising of twice-weekly squash training and English tutoring. The core target of the programme is to teach discipline and strengthen language ability, two skills that David says are important aspects in shaping a child’s future trajectory.
The squash programme was designed and will be led by David herself, with the focus on developing children through prepared classes and modules, with an assessment to analyse progress at the end of each year grade.
Children who undergo the programme will also be included in national and Nicol David Organisation competitions and tournaments. They will be trained in coordination, strength, agility and endurance of the sport as an introduction, leading to a post graduate programme after five years. This includes sports scholarships, education scholarship funds as well as the opportunity to join the Malaysian Junior team and other foundation alliances affiliated with the organisation.
The English programme, meanwhile, has been designed with the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur as the programme partner and is aligned with the Malaysian Ministry of Education’s curriculum for Primary Schools. Spearheaded by the U.S. Embassy’s English Language Fellow Shaheed Sabrin, classes and modules will teach listening, speaking, writing and reading.
Explaining why the the organisation was launched, David said: “When I was five years old, I was given the greatest opportunity in my life. That was to play a sport, and my sport was squash. That opportunity changed my life forever as it showed me the importance of hard work, dedication and humility.
“This is why I believe with all my heart, that providing opportunities to children will change their future like mine. My goal now is to give that back to the future, in hopes that they can also reach their dreams and become a generation that inspires themselves, their families and their community.”
Co-Founder and CEO De Reyes added: “Squash is our sport, and we know firsthand the impact and most importantly the long lasting values it creates. Children that enter our programme will experience determination, discipline, respect and teamwork combined with English language tutoring to enhance their education and opportunities.
“I’m so proud that after three years of preparation, we have 58 children aged eight joining our first cohort and our goal is to expand throughout Malaysia.”
Reacting to the news of the high number of children already registered for the programme, Olaya said:
“What Nicol and Mariana have achieved is incredible and heart-warming and I’m so proud of what they are doing. The Nicol David Organisation is going to transform the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children in Malaysia.
“Those who are participating couldn’t ask for better role models than Nicol and Mariana and, on behalf of the PSA Foundation, I wish them every success.”