Graduate keeps late dad’s lesson on resilience close to heart
National hockey player tells graduates the key is to bounce back from failure
To this day, national hockey player Ishwarpal Singh Grewal vividly recalls returning home as a tearful 15-year-old, afraid to tell his father he had failed to make the school's hockey team.
His late father, journalist Santokh Singh, a former news editor at The New Paper and The Straits Times, was invested in his son's progress as an athlete. But when he got the bad news, he simply told his son to watch as he threw a ball onto the floor.
The now 26-year-old Dr Singth told young graduates at an annual Sikh Graduates Tea yesterday: "The ball hit the floor and bounced back higher... That was the first time he taught me this lesson that stuck with me for the rest of my life: It's not about how you fall, it's about how high you bounce back."
Dr Singh graduated from Nanyang Technological University's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine this year.
"Throughout my career as an athlete, I've had a lot of failures. I have been benched for important games, lost finals, made decisions that have caused the team to lose. I always remembered to bounce back.
"This lesson is something that can make a big difference to our day-to-day lives," he said, adding he did not make it into medical school on his first try.
The event, organised by the Young Sikh Association, recognised 36 young graduates from Institutes of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities for their academic achievements. Dr Singh, who graduated with a degree in medicine and surgery, was invited to speak as valedictorian.
He told ST that resilience was instilled in him from a young age. He started playing hockey with his father and siblings from the age of five, before training in Raffles Institution where he studied. He began playing on the national team at 19.
"Many times, I was not selected to teams. I've never played for the national team in any age group, only as an adult," added Dr Singh, who has represented Singapore in three SEA Games.
"Without resilience, I don't think any of this would have been possible."
At the event, Young Sikh Association president Sarabjeet Singh flagged the importance of mentorship for young people.
Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, who also spoke, urged young graduates to recognise that success is reaped through the experience of managing failures and overcoming challenges.
He told the youth to be ready to step out of their comfort zones: "Asean and the larger Asia must be seen as our economic hinterland."
He commended the Young Sikh Association's approach to dealing with "insensitive comments" by an influencer recently.
Singapore is multiracial and multireligious, he said, adding: "Differences will always be highlighted. Although we can't take away those differences, we can focus a lot more on the similarities and make effort to bridge those gaps. I think young people must continue to do so."