He may oversee 38 activities but Mr Eric Chua is partial to basketball. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was in primary school,” says the head of the co-curriculum activities (CCA) department of Meridian Junior College (MJC).

The avid basketballer also took up other sports in junior college and university. While doing his National Service, he was part of the army’s formation swimming and water-polo competitions, too.

His love for sports opened the doors to an even greater opportunity for him some 13 years ago, when he decided to be a teacher.

In the beginning

Mr Chua’s first job after graduating from the National University of Singapore was as an events executive at a country club. He was eventually put in charge of starting up a new clubhouse. Yet, after four years in the industry, he had an awakening which changed the course of his career.

“It dawned upon me that one should live a purposeful life, and I wondered then if I should spend the rest of my life climbing the corporate ladder and serving clubhouse members,” he says.

Now, Mr Chua enjoys what is possibly the best outcome in terms of striking a work-life balance.

“Being a sportsman all my life, it was only natural that I choose to teach physical education, to share my passion for sports with children and to help them learn valuable life skills through it,” he says.

“I love every moment with my students, be it in the classroom, on the field, on the basketball court or outside the examination hall. I share in their laughter, their sorrows and their victories.

“I love to cheer them up, give their lives direction and challenge them to aim higher than they can ever imagine. I cannot think of another profession that is more meaningful than teaching.”

More than just sharing his students’ dreams, Mr Chua also helps to make some of them come true. Referring to the National Physical Proficiency Assessment (NAPFA), Mr Chua says: “When the students eventually pass their test, it’s almost like they are receiving their A-level examination results! They thank you for helping them to achieve a good set of grades, and that is just one of my greatest joys as a PE teacher.”

Beyond the classroom

Mr Chua specialises in the teaching of lacrosse. He also teaches floorball, ultimate Frisbee, touch rugby, tennis and rock climbing — sports that many students would not have had prior experience in.

Instead of having lessons that are drill-intensive, Mr Chua engages students through a “Games Concept Approach”, where skills and concepts are taught through games and mini-competitions.

As the head of department, he oversees all 38 of MJC’s co-curricular activities (CCAs), and strongly believes that active participation in these will nurture in students qualities that will allow them to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing environment.

Mr Chua recently oversaw the building of an artificial rock wall and an abseiling station on the school grounds. From the rock wall’s design, to financing and administrative matters, and the establishment of a rock-climbing CCA, Mr Chua says it was a highly rewarding learning experience.

“Whenever I see the joy on the students’ faces as they climb the rock wall, or hear their excited screams as they abseil down the six-storey building, I know that all that hard work was worth it.”

When he is not engaged in extra-curricular ventures, the dedicated PE teacher thrives on the challenges that come with the job. “Every student is different,” Mr Chua says.

“We have to know their strengths, weaknesses, temperaments and learning styles so that we can adopt different strategies to help them learn most effectively and bring out the best in them.”

For those who want to follow in his footsteps, Mr Chua advises: “If you want a meaningful career and you love children, and would like to make a difference in their lives, then pursue this exciting career.”