Hougang United donate $50,000 to cancer-stricken coach
S.League club commit $50,000 to gymnastics coach Zhu Xiaoping as she battles Stage Four cancer
S.League club Hougang United FC have stepped up and committed $50,000 to cancer-stricken gymnastics coach Zhu Xiaoping and her family.
The 56-year-old made headlines when she led the national rhythmic gymnastics team to gold at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil last year, despite battling Stage Four cancer.
After learning about her plight through the media, Hougang's management, led by chairman Bill Ng, approached The New Paper to set up a meeting with Zhu and her husband Lin Zhenqiu, also a former national gymnastics coach, at their home in Fernvale last month.
NOT FORGOTTEN: Bill Ng, chairman of S.League club Hougang United who have raised money for her. PHOTO: TNP FILE
"We read about her situation in the papers last month and our management felt that we should help her," said Hougang United general manager Matthew Tay.
"Even though she was so sick, she still coached the national rhythmic gymnastics team to a gold medal at the last SEA Games. The couple have also contributed to Singapore sports for a decade and it wasn't so much the end result that impressed us but her act of putting nation before self.
"We want to encourage her and hope that the money will help to defray costs of her treatment and family's expenses as we wish her a speedy recovery."
Tay revealed that the Cheetahs, along with club sponsors ESW Manage Pte Ltd, handed Zhu a $10,000 cheque on Monday and will contribute $30,000 over the next 10 months, before two monthly payments of $5,000 in June and July next year.
It is understood that Hougang are the first sports organisation to offer such significant financial assistance to the couple, who have already spent around $400,000 since Zhu's cancer diagnosis in 2013, a few months before they received their Singapore citizenship.
The cancer was first diagnosed in the colon and has since spread. Zhu resumed chemotherapy on June 24 and started another round of treatment yesterday.
Hougang's donation will help a great deal after Lin's contract with Singapore Gymnastics ended in May.
A grateful Zhu told TNP: "The past few weeks have been very special for me. I am very humbled and moved by the attention that the media has given me.
"It has been a trying and challenging period. I started chemotherapy on June 24 and am trying my best to battle the side effects.
"I want to specially thank Hougang United Football Club, who reached out to me through The New Paper, and have committed a very generous sum to help me with my medical and daily living expenses.
"My husband looks after me full time and I cannot fully express how much Hougang United's support and generosity will help in looking after our practical needs and relieving our family of the stress we are experiencing. We also want to thank Alpha Gymnastics who have just employed my husband on a part-time basis.
"All the kindness, support, well wishes and love from strangers and friends are giving me the extra strength to fight this disease. I will do my best to overcome the odds."
This is not the first time the Cheetahs, currently fifth in the nine-team S.League, have extended a helping hand.
Since 2012, the club have raised more than $100,000 for former Singapore winger S Anthonysamy, who is paralysed from the neck down after a freak injury during a friendly against Selangor in 1996.
"Anthonysamy is from the pioneer batch of Singapore football. Many people may have forgotten about him, but we will always remember his contributions," said Hougang United honorary treasurer Jeffrey Sim.
Last year, they also launched the HGFC Scholarship, a $1 million initiative to support and facilitate the academic development of young non-professional footballing talent.
HGFC Scholarship returns
The Hougang United Football Club (HGFC) Scholarship is back for the second year running.
A sum of $1 million has been allocated for the scholarship, which is open to all tertiary students - Singapore citizens aged 16 to 23 - who play competitive football at any level of a competition affiliated with the Football Association of Singapore (IVP, NFL, COE, Women's League, Prime League).
The deadline for application is July 31.
For application form and details, visit www.hgfc.com.sg/scholarship/