Photo credit: PHUA KAI YI


Phua Kai Yi, 19, is a youth volunteer with Team Nila, a national volunteerism movement under Sport Singapore that aims to empower volunteers to do good through sports. She was previously involved in competitive Taekwondo, and is currently a second year medical student who enjoys spinning and dancing in her free time.

Take the leap of faith

One of my personal achievements on this journey of volunteering with Team Nila would be stepping forward to volunteer in COVID-19 relief efforts. It was not an easy decision, especially with the unknown risk of the disease at the start of  the pandemic, but I do not regret it. To all would-be volunteers, don’t let inertia or fear stop you from putting work into a cause that you believe in!

Be open to conversation

Through Team Nila, I’ve had the chance to meet other volunteers and members of the public. I learnt the importance of keeping an open mind and interacting with people from all walks of life. You never know what fresh perspectives they can offer you, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised time and again by the insights imparted to me from the people I work with.

Get used to the new normal

The ever-evolving COVID-19 situation put a stop to most physical and large-scale sporting events, which was a significant challenge for Team Nila as a sports volunteer group. Hence, over the past two years, Team Nila has put in incredible amounts of effort to pivot our engagement for the online space.

This transition has not been easy for many volunteers, especially the senior volunteers who are less familiar with online platforms. As youth, it is crucial that we step in to offer new ideas and expertise while adapting to the new normal.Through Team Nila, I was given plenty of opportunities to do so as I tried out various virtual exercise programmes and activities.

However, despite having to adapt to all these changes, it was crucial that we did not lose sight of our initial goal – to be a driving force for good through sports.

Join for the cause, stay for the people

In my time volunteering with Team Nila, the people I met truly inspired me. Despite the varied age range of Team Nila volunteers, it’s been an amazing journey getting to know all these volunteers and volunteer leaders who have been nothing but welcoming since the start.

They imparted priceless wisdom to me and were extremely kind and caring, going out of their way to offer me advice on my future and career. I had the pleasure of attending a few meetings with the volunteer leaders, and their passion for sports and Team Nila’s initiatives truly motivates me to put my all into my volunteer work.

Volunteerism has a place for everyone

Team Nila provided me and 30,000 other volunteers with an accessible platform for volunteer work. I’ve learnt there’s a place for everyone, no matter whether you’re a seasoned volunteer or just looking for a way to give back while having fun.

Don't be afraid to use your voice

  1. Every person offers new and fresh perspectives, and Team Nila has given me plenty of chances to speak out for positive change, one of them being an opportunity to contribute my ideas towards GetActive! Singapore. During our Team Nila meetings, I was able to voice my thoughts and receive support from the senior volunteers even when I was still new to the team.

Volunteer with a cause that aligns with your goals

I’m currently a second-year medical student, and in the future, I hope to be a good doctor who makes a great impact on people I interact with. When I volunteer, I see my dream of being a physician and my volunteer experiences come together. Although on the surface they seem different, Team Nila and the healthcare sector both touch people’s hearts through the culture of caring for everyone.

Each time I volunteer, or interact with a patient, I will recall my previous experiences that helped me  gain priceless insight into how different each person’s life and perspectives are. Hopefully, as I continue to learn and volunteer, these experiences will keep me humble while I serve the community to the best of my abilities.

As youth, we stand on the shoulder of giants

As youth volunteers, we really have so much room to innovate and expand on what experienced volunteers before us have done. I would like to extend this call for more youths to come join us. Team Nila is far more than a movement, and I would like to welcome you all to join this vibrant, courageous, and passionate Team Nila family!

This article was published on Nov 1, 2021

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