Tu­tors help kids weigh in on sports

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHAO SHENGNAN in Ban­dar Seri Be­gawan, Brunei

A Chi­nese phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tor is help­ing young peo­ple in Brunei win the bat­tle of the bulge and hopes to give the coun­try a sport­ing chance to make a name for it­self in the world’s are­nas.

When Zhang Si­jie came to the Brunei Sports School, she de­cided to help Md Azairal Mirza bin Zakaria lose some weight.

She gave the 12-year-old stu­dent an as­sign­ment — to weigh him­self ev­ery­day at noon — which he did, re­luc­tantly but obe­di­ently.

“He lost 4kg be­fore the sum­mer hol­i­days. But when­ever he spent long pe­ri­ods at home, his weight re­bounded,” she said. “This had to change. Oth­er­wise, he would not be able to do the re­quired phys­i­cal train­ing,” said Zhang, 24, one of six Chi­nese vol­un­teer teach­ers at Brunei’s only sports school.

The young boy has a driv­ing am­bi­tion to be a golfer but knows that he has to win the “weight­ing game” be­fore he can con­quer cour­ses.

“Teach­ers have told me to go on a diet. It is dif­fi­cult, but I will not give up. I want to be a good golfer,” he said.

Wu Hongyuan, a Chi­nese vol­un­teer nu­tri­tion­ist at the school, said the tra­di­tional diet — fried food and not many veg­eta­bles — made Brunei a coun­try prone to di­a­betes and obe­sity.

“Al­though the school and Brunei so­ci­ety in gen­eral are pay­ing in­creas­ing at­ten­tion to a more healthy diet, it takes time for the school to make changes,” said Wu, a se­nior nu­tri­tion­ist from Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince.

Brunei is one of the weak­est na­tions in sport. It has yet to win an Olympic medal, but has sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved its per­for­mances in re­gional games.

Cur­rently, more than 100 stu­dents are at­tend­ing cour­ses in track and field, golf and foot­ball at the school.

“One rea­son for es­tab­lish­ing this school one decade ago was to seek a break­through in re­gional and global sports events, but medals can­not be won overnight and the ap­petite for com­pe­ti­tion must be in­creased,” said Zhang.

“The good thing is that they are work­ing harder and harder, and more en­thu­si­as­ti­cally,” she added.

In China, coaches se­lect promis­ing child ath­letes who are then trained by gov­ern­ment bod­ies. But stu­dents at Brunei Sports School usu­ally choose to go there them­selves and pick their own sport.

“It may be dif­fi­cult at the mo­ment for Brunei to get an Olympic medal, but I want to im­prove my run­ning and be­come stronger. It is my dream,” said Mohamad Shahriff Pudn Mohd Salleh, a 17-year-old ath­lete in the school.

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