Tunku Imran believes Nicol’s Little Legend initiative will nurture future stars

KUALA LUMPUR: Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) Chairman Tan Sri Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar believes squash’s Greatest of All Time Datuk Nicol David, will be able to nurture future stars of the sport.

Tunku Imran, who handed a RM1 million sponsorship for the Nicol David Organisation (NDO) to run the Little Legends programme for the period of three years, said over 50 children a year, will get an opportunity to learn valuable squash, English and other lessons under the guidance of Nicol.

“From the YSD’s point of view, we have given the kids the opportunity that they would never have otherwise…And we don’t know where these kids will end up, but I am sure most of them will be very successful, they will be future leaders.

“Nicol was the greatest squash player in the world and she is all about quality, so they can learn from a very special person. One day, one of them might become another Nicol, a world champion or could be successful on other things,” he said after launching the collaboration, today.

The Little Legends programme, led by Nicol as the head coach and former world-class player Mariana de Reyes as the co-founder and chief executive officer of NDO, provides opportunities for four primary school students from B40 and M40 families within the Bukit Jalil and Sri Petaling vicinities to learn English and squash development programmes designed by Nicol.

The record eight-time world champion Nicol, said based on the parents’ survey conducted among the 59 pioneer batch children enrolled last June, showed that they have progressed not only in squash, but also improvements in terms of academic, discipline and confidence.

She said, another 65 students are expected to join the programme next month.

“I still remember, at the age of five, when Tunku Imran opened the first squash court in Penang, I was able to play the sport for the first time. I am certain that the combination of both squash and English will produce more holistic athletes with confidence to help boost their resilience and motivation to push through in the long run.

“If we keep doing it, who knows where it goes, they can be champions in their own life, whether in squash, education or wanting to be an artist, musician or whatever they pick. I believe we can give them the values to become great people,” Nicol said.

Nicol, who held the world number one crown for a record 108 consecutive months, also hopes to get more support for the programme as they aim to extend it to other parts of the country.

She said, for the one-hour squash and one-hour English lessons twice a week, with snacks and transport provided to the Bukit Jalil Golf & Country Resort, they only charge a fee between RM40 to RM250 based on their parents’ income bracket.

Meanwhile, R. Manikandan, 9, was all excited and proud to be able to train under the legendary player, having no exposure playing squash before joining the programme last year. – Bernama