Sport changed her life and Datuk Nicol David is now intent on giving opportunities to children in hopes that they can dream big just like she did, and transform their lives through sport and education.
"When I was five years old, I was given the greatest opportunity in my life, and that was to play a sport – squash," she says.
“That opportunity changed my life forever, as it showed me the importance of hard work, dedication and humility,” she adds.
The former world squash champion together with Colombian professional squash professional Mariana de Reyes recently launched the Nicol David Organisation, located in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, to “empower girls and boys through sport and education”.
“The Little Legends programme supports B40 and M40 children with an after-school programme that includes squash training, English tutoring and life skills,” says Nicol.
“The subsidised programme enables children from the ages of eight to 12 to be trained for five years before they go to secondary school,” she says.
“Children are selected for the programme from public schools in the surrounding areas of Bukit Jalil and Sri Petaling,” she adds.
Nicol says that her desire is that this programme will give more opportunities to families whose children don’t have the chance to take part in sports or get tutored in English.
“It’s my desire to see more people taking part in sports, especially squash. Sports is important for health, self improvement and character development,” she says.
Nicol who was in competitive sports for 20 years, says that she is now ready to give her all to the foundation.
“I wake up with a purpose to give back to society,” she says, revealing that her day comprises work meetings, working out, and meeting up with people since she returned to Malaysia from Amsterdam where she was based.
“Now, I’m ready to give my heart and soul to the foundation to empower girls and boys through sports and education,” she says.
Nicol is no stranger to giving back to the community. Earlier this year, 20 women had the opportunity to play squash with the eight-time world squash champion at the #AIASquashTheStereotypes” Squash Clinic to advocate for gender equality.
Women were asked to share on social media how they squashed gender stereotypes and inequality, and those selected would get to take part in the Squash Clinic.
Nicol admits that women in sports do face certain challenges.
“In sports, there are always challenges as a female athlete. When I was world number one, I had to take on the additional responsibility of representing the women's tours, and by doing so, I had to turn down some tournaments which didn’t give women the same priority as men, such as when the prize money for the men was higher then the women, because it should be equal,” she says.
“Women are powerful in their own right and have a lot of capabilities and potential for sports as well as in other areas,” she says.
“So never let people look down on you or judge you, saying ‘you can’t do this or that because you’re too young or too old, not good enough, or not athletic enough’ because you are enough.
“You don’t have to compare yourself with anyone else because you have self-worth and are capable of doing all that you want,” she concludes.
More info at: nicoldavidorganisation.org/