Loh Kean Yew and his brother Kean Hean are a smash hit at a children’s home
He had to deal with bright lights and a draught, but when Loh Kean Yew lost a point to his young opponent after the wind carried the shuttlecock out of bounds on Saturday, he was all smiles.
After all, amid some showboating, fancy strokes, laughs and cheers, he and his older brother Kean Hean were having a blast as they spent part of their afternoon with 19 kids aged five to 18 at the Pertapis Children’s Home.
They had hatched the idea of charity work when they realised how after various tournaments and major Games, they had accumulated several backpacks that were just sitting in their store room.
Not only did they want to donate those items, but they also wanted to spend quality time with the disadvantaged community to encourage them.
With advice from local charitable movement ShoeboxProject SEA, the Lohs decided to work with Pertapis Children’s Home, a welfare facility in Kovan that helps children who are victims of abuse to re-integrate in society through positive learning.
Sportswear company Li-Ning also came on board as sponsors.
Men’s singles world No. 6 Kean Yew, 26, said: “As national athletes, some of us are rather blessed to have sponsors. My brother and I want to give back to society and we hope to inspire the younger generation in some way.
“It makes me happy to see that the boys and girls were happy, and we would like to do more of such meaningful activities where possible.”
After morning training, the Lohs walked into a Pertapis classroom to raucous applause. The siblings charmed their audience and shared about the challenges they faced in their careers.
Kean Yew, who won the singles title 2021 world championships, said: “Coming to Singapore from Penang, Kean Hean went to Montfort Secondary School, while I was at the Singapore Sports School. We had no friends and not even each other at school. It was not easy for us to go out of our comfort zone to make friends.”
Meanwhile, Kean Hean, 28, described how his Olympic dreams were probably dashed after the 2022 split with his former men’s doubles partner Terry Hee, who chose to focus on his mixed doubles career with Jessica Tan.
He now plays with Andy Kwek and said: “Sure, I was disappointed. But I also became more open-minded. It’s not the end of the world and there are many other opportunities out there to make the most out of my... abilities.
“I’ve also just started my own Elever Badminton academy in June, and I’m happy to be able to give back.”
After a brief Q&A session indoors and a warm-up and badminton session outside, the participants received a backpack containing a water bottle and socks. Rackets, shuttlecocks and a badminton net, all courtesy of Li-Ning, were also donated to Pertapis.
“Henry” (not his real name), 15, said: “Not many people get to meet and play with these famous athletes and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
“I see them as motivation to work hard to achieve my dream of becoming a national footballer. I believe it is possible.”
“Mariah” (not her real name), 12, added: “I feel very happy because I love playing badminton and other sports, and grateful because their time must be very precious but still they came here to have fun with us.
“I always thought famous people are arrogant, but they were very humble. I learnt from them how to be resilient, and hope one day I can also be a national footballer.”