PETALING JAYA: Squash legend Nicol David’s dream project NDO (Nicol David Organisation), geared towards producing future talents, became a reality yesterday after a three-year wait.
The Covid-19 outbreak had delayed the eight-time world champion’s never-ending drive to serve the sport that made her a global superstar. And the event finally took place in grand fashion with the royal audience in attendance.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah launched the NDO, a non-profitable organisation, which will focus on producing talents who not only excel in squash but also in their education.
Nicol had established the NDO with the help of former Colombian squash player Mariana de Reyes and the duo had come up with a programme called the “‘Little Legends” where players as young as eight from the B40 and B20 groups are identified and will be trained at three squash courts at the Bukit Jalil Golf and Country Resort.
Nicol said the initiative is not just to create future players but turn them into successful individuals as a whole as the programme also includes English classes conducted in collaboration with the United States Embassy as well as life skill workshops.
“At five, I received a chance to get involved in sports. Squash changed my life and I want to give back to children who can dream big through the empowerment of sports and education. This is our vision in NDO,” said Nicol.
“NDO is not an academy that solely focuses on producing squash players alone. The idea is to build life values through sports and education. Being a non-profitable organisation, NDO will provide a subsidised programme which is affordable to all.
“We are not here to make money and that’s why we have the corporate sponsors to cater to our programme and this enables us to offer subsidies to the children who sign up with us.
“We now have 58 children from four schools from Bukti Jalil and Sri Petaling. It is open to all students who are interested as we are not setting any specific criteria. I’m proud to say that 45% of the 58 participants are girls and they will train together with the boys.
“As the head coach, I will handle the training and I will also train our trainers while the English lessons, based on the Malaysian education programme, will be run by an expert sponsored by the US Embassy.”
The NDO will only charge a minimal commitment fee, which could be as low as RM18, for the students.
The four schools that have been identified for the “Little Legends’’ programme are SK Bukit Jalil, SK Bandar Baru Bukit Jalil 1, SK Bandar Baru Bukit Jalil 2 and SJKT Ladang Bukit Jalil.
“The entire programme will be fun learning and training where our boys and girls will embrace positivity, confidence and respect, which are the three core values stressed by NDO.
“We’re not looking to create squash professionals but to make them better students with the empowerment of sports and education.
“I will be very happy even if I get one player who can become a champion.”
The training sessions and English classes will commence on June 13 where the sessions will be twice a week for nine months in a year.
The students will be part of the “Little Legends’’ programme for five years.