In a league of her own
Here's how Wylie Wee used sports to change lives, one game at a time.
It took Wylie Wee a torn ligament and a rejection letter from a local university to realise her dream of having her own start-up.
When she was 22, the sport enthusiast suffered a ligament injury during a netball tournament.
Her injury was so severe that Wylie had to stay away from competitive sports for more than a year.
The 28-year-old, who returned to competitive sports only after five years, said: “When I injured myself, I couldn’t play for a while. I’ve been playing all my life and not being able to play turned my world around. It made me realise what a privilege it was to be able to play a sport.”
The incident was a blow to Wylie’s spirits, who has been playing netball, one of her favourite sports, since she was in primary school.
The ball wasn’t always in Wylie’s court.
After performing badly in her ‘A’ levels, Wylie felt demoralised when she couldn’t get into a local university.
“I used to look down on myself as a ‘local uni reject’, and I was really upset…I decided to apply for a scholarship in university, so that my parents wouldn’t be burdened with my school fees.
“I worked really hard, made sure I had good grades, and joined clubs, just so I could secure my scholarship,” said Wylie, the second child in her family.
The entrepreneur added: “The moment I got my scholarship, I knew that I could do anything, as long as I put my mind to it.”
After completing her business management degree in Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), Wylie started Player Group with a few partners.
Player Group is an integrated sports management and training company that focuses on teambuilding through sports, such as basketball and volleyball, and game play.
Founded in 2012, the company also provides a range of services, such as sports event management, programme development, and competition management.
“Growing up, I’ve always been very sporty, and entrepreneurship was always something I wanted to explore. So, I decided to put the two together,” explained Wylie.
“I was in the entrepreneurship club in SIM and I had been thinking of starting Player Group for a while. But I was doubting myself.
“When I was talking to one of my close friends about the idea, he told me, ‘Go for it, you’re meant for the skies.’ And so, I did,” shared Wylie.
The former captain of her secondary school netball team added: “We started off with no revenue, no credentials, no resources. That’s when I realised that you need your bread before your dreams. We had to work hard and make things work.”
However, Wylie has no regrets.
She answered, with a smile: “If I got into a local university, I wouldn’t have worked so hard to get a scholarship. If I wasn’t in the entrepreneurship club, this wouldn’t be my life now.”
Wylie started attending personal development programmes, entrepreneurship competitions, and industry networking sessions to improve herself. She constantly revamped her business to keep moving forward.
After three long months, Wylie clinched her first client.
“I owe a lot to my alma mater, SIM, for giving me my first project,” shared Wylie, who took another six months to clinch her second client.
Her business started picking up after a year.
Her past clients include big names such as Temasek Holdings, National Youth Council, and People’s Association. Besides organising small-scaled community events, Player Group also ventured into international events.
In 2015, Player Group planned and executed the competition for the ASEAN Para Games.
Now that she has a strong team staff working alongside her, Wylie spends most of her days chairing meetings and running events.
Wylie, who has been playing netball for the past 19 years, said: “My days can start as early as 8am and end as late as 2am the next day, but I never see myself ‘working’ because I enjoy what I do.
“I’d call myself a hustler by day, and a dreamer by night,” added Wylie, who represented Singapore in the Global Student Entrepreneurs Award in 2013 and ASEAN4U Youth Leadership Program in 2015.
Despite her impressive achievements, Wylie admitted it is not the number of awards that keep her motivated.
“It’s priceless when you see someone grow from a sport. When someone comes in with zero knowledge and grows to a confident and prominent player, that really keeps me going,” shared Wylie, who started coaching when she was 20.
“A lot of people don’t have the chance to play sports for many reasons, be it financial difficulties or the lack of opportunities. I decided to help alleviate the issue with my own start-up.”
So, what’s next for Wylie?
She shared confidently: “In the next few years, I hope that Player Group will be able to grow into the leading sports management and training company in Singapore.”
What advice does Wylie have for youths who are thinking of starting their own start-ups?
Wylie shared: “Have courage. Courage does not necessarily mean you are not afraid. Courage simply means you have decided to walk yourself through your fear to head to where you want to be.
“Know that you are deserving to be there, wherever you choose to be.”
Photo credits: Wylie Wee