If you asked Marc Chiang four years ago, he would have scarcely imagined himself representing Singapore at a regional sporting event, much less leading a team as its captain. Marc is afflicted with retinis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that severely impairs vision.
In December 2015 however, that's exactly what the 35 year-old Facilities Engineer at Keppel Digihub did, when he headed Singapore's first Goalball team at the ASEAN Para Games (APG). Goalball is a sport that requires athletes
to don blindfolds and roll a ball into opposing teams' goals. They dive to block the attempts by listening to bells embedded in the ball.
Although Singapore 's inaugural foray into the sport at the APG ended with a 4-14 and 6-16 defeat by Laos and Indonesia respectively, Marc considers the event a success at showcasing the abilities of para-athletes.
He said, "It's the first time that the APG was held in Singapore. Holding the event at a public venue like Marina Bay Sands and flooding the venue with physically and intellectually impaired people really raised awareness of what we were capable of. To me, the athletes really personified the Can Do! spirit.
"I was personally motivated by the cheers of my friends and particularly my colleagues who came to support me during the matches. They have been very supportive all along the way, helping me whenever they can," he added.
Marc first joined Keppel Digihub in 2008 at the age of 28. He had normal vision then, until he started losing his sight when he was 31.
"I was initially apprehensive about sharing about my vision-loss in the beginning. Fortunately, everyone at work has been very supportive, and my work scope was redesigned to accommodate my condition. Initially, my work was very front-end facing. I was going to data centres and inspecting equipment. Now, even though I am more desk-bound, the team taps my experience and I help them with developing processes and certification submissions.
"My job is very exciting and fast paced, as the data centre industry is growing rapidly. I contribute the best I can, helped by assistive technology on the computer."
Marc's contributions to the company and Singapore's sporting scene were recognised during Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation's (Keppel T&T) annual Dinner and Dance on 11 December 2015, where he was presented with a token of appreciation by Mr Thomas Pang, CEO of Keppel T&T.
With the excitement of the games fading, life is returning to normal for Marc. He remains modest about his efforts. He said, "It doesn't matter if you are able bodied or a special-needs individual. At the end of the day, it's about teamwork and putting your heart and mind to whatever you do. It might mean a different way of doing things, perhaps a little slower, but things can still be done. Just like playing Goalball. You use your sense of hearing instead of sight, and you get through together as a team.
Supportive colleagues helped Marc Chiang (first row, second from left), Facilities Engineer at Keppel Digihub, juggle his work and training commitments for the ASEAN Para Games 2015 where he led Singapore's Goalball team