Shaws Little League was first conceived in 2004, where an outdoor sports programme was developed and operated at the Shaws Preschool, as an alternative to the normal outdoor play, and another means to develop children’s physical ability. After four years of research and encouragement from parents, Shaws Little League finally came to fruition. Shaws Little League is the longest running multi-sport programme for children in Singapore.
The New Age Parents had a chat with one of Shaws Little League founder, Alpesh Puna, to find out more about its philosophy and programme.
TNAP: How did the idea of Shaws Little League come about?
Shaws Little League is basically the outcome of our own love of sport combined with seeing the happiness on children’s faces when they successfully kick the ball into the goal, hit a home run, make the game saving tackle, or just show us how much they love to play sport. We emphasis heavily on the fun factor, which we hope will eventually instill a sense of love for sports in young children.
TNAP: What makes Shaws Little League different from the other sports classes out there?
Shaws Little League is a multi-sport programme – children are exposed to a range of different sports. The sports in our programme at present are volleyball, tennis, rugby, hockey, basketball, baseball, cricket, soccer, golf and athletics. It is based on research that suggests that children should not specialize in a particular sport at a young age, but instead try a range of sports before specializing at a later stage. We understand that we are the first in South East Asia to develop such a programme for young children.
Our programme has been developed by Dr. Astrid Simon of the German Sport University, Shaws Preschool in Singapore, and international athletes and coaches and has been especially designed for young children and therefore is age appropriate. By having a range of specialists, we are able to get the best of everything in developing our programme.
In addition to children having fun, we focus on three essential elements: exposing children to different sports, maximizing participation, and improving their skills. Parents are also welcomed to watch all of our sessions. The parents not only cheer for their child, but they cheer for all the children. We believe in creating such a culture, and this sets a very positive and encouraging environment.
TNAP: What age group does Shaws Little League cater to?
Our multi-sport programme is for 2 to 9 year olds. Our sports specific classes (tennis & cricket) cater for children up to the age of 12.
TNAP: Can you share with us some highlights of any of your programs?
Our programmes are heavily focused on skill acquisition and development – in all of our classes, we address the key skills in each of the sports that we conduct. We understand that skill development does not occur in a vacuum and therefore a number of our activities are game-based and dynamic, which requires the children to think on their feet and act accordingly. This helps in developing their game sense. A number of parents have commented on how much their children enjoy playing sport at Shaws, how much they have improved and how they can do certain skills that seem beyond their age.
TNAP:What is the teacher to child ratio in each class, and what is the class size?
The ratio is 1 teacher to 5 children, with a maximum of 14 children in each class. Our staff are also highly qualified and trained – we have a number of Sports Diploma and Degree trained staff. In addition to those qualifications, all of our staff undergo a large amount of internal training in the Shaws method and approach. Most importantly, they love working with young children and derive great satisfaction when they see the children improve and have a great time.
TNAP: Safety is a key concern in a lot of parents, especially when they start sports at such a young age. How do you address this concern?
We take a holistic approach to safety – from checking footwear and clothing, ensuring that the equipment is the right size for all children, the layout of our activities and how we work with the children. We also ensure that various activities are tailored to the abilities of the children. We are also very patient with children, and that allows them to learn and build up their own confidence before attempting more difficult activities.
We take particular care in developing the fundamental movement skills(including falling and landing) to make sure that children are better prepared. Of course they have a great time doing all these things as well. In addition to the above measures, at least one of our staff in each of the sessions is first aid trained.
TNAP: What are the demographics of the children at Shaws Little League?
We have a very diverse group of children – 60% of our children are non-Singaporeans and come from all around the world, so it is a very multi-cultural environment. However, we are beginning to see more local children coming for our classes. In addition to having children who have developed outstanding physical ability, we also have children with special needs, from slight physical disabilities to children with ADHD. All of who love to play sport and improve their skills. We believe there is a way to work with every child to love sports.
TNAP: You have coached in New Zealand for many years before coming to Singapore. Can you share with us some of your coaching experience in New Zealand?
The key difference between New Zealand and Singapore is the attitude of parents towards their children playing – parents in New Zealand are more open to their children playing sport. However it is starting to change in Singapore, and I see more parents getting their children involved in sports and other physical activities, and not just for achievement reasons.
The major similarity between both countries is that NZ children and Singaporean children all love to play. Another similarity between both countries is the high expectations parents have of their children. One thing that we did in Singapore was to get the parents to participate in a class just so that they understood how much effort the children had to put in to each of the activities and how much skill, movement and activity that each child is exposed to in every class at Shaws Little League.
For more information, please visit their website, www.shawslittleleague.com or contact Alpesh at 6440 9545.
Shaws Little League @ The Cage
38 Jalan Benaan Kapal (Near Kallang Leisure Park)
About Alpesh Puna
Originating from New Zealand, Alpesh is a former international athlete who has played hockey at the highest level. The highlight being playing in the 2002 World Cup and being part of the training squad for the Athens Olympics. In addition to a heavy involvement in sport from a playing perspective, Alpesh has more than 12 years sports coaching experience, with particular focus on youth and grassroots development. In addition to being a qualified coach, Alpesh has an honours degree in accounting and economics and has been a qualified chartered accountant.