Decathlon

He had been a professional jockey since he was 18.

But when a bad fall in 2017 left him paralysed from the waist down and utterly demoralised, Mr Sam Subian wondered if he could ever pursue his passion again.

A year after the accident, he ended up following his interests in a way he did not expect - as a sports adviser for horse riding at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

Mr Subian, 47, told The New Paper: "At first, I felt bad about my disability and I wasn't sure how to cope. I even shut myself out from the people who cared.

"But I have gained some confidence along the way, and now I'm happy to be working in an environment where I feel accepted and supported."

Mr Subian, who is a wheelchair user, acknowledges the challenges he faces at work, such as being unable to reach for items placed high up on shelves - but he remains unperturbed.

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SUPPORTIVE

"My colleagues are very supportive and always ready to lend a hand. Customers are understanding too. I really enjoy speaking to them about horse riding and giving them advice on the proper gear to use."

Mr Subian is among five staff with disabilities working at Decathlon, including Ms Aw Pei Kim, who was born with a hearing impairment.

The 31-year-old, who is completely deaf in her left ear and suffers from 65 per cent hearing loss on her right ear, joined the team in late 2017 after 10 years of working in the food and beverage industry.

She told TNP: "Prior to Covid-19, I would read customers' lips to better understand them. There have been instances where customers called me repeatedly from behind, thinking I was ignoring them. They would get frustrated and it affected me quite a bit back then."

Ms Aw said things became easier when she started carrying around a blackboard and a pointer, which helped in explaining her condition to customers. She now works as a user happiness centre leader and interacts with customers online via the website's live chat function.

With International Week of the Deaf celebrated on Sept 19, Ms Aw said: "My hope is that people like me can see beyond their disabilities and know that they can impact others in many ways.

"It has been a very fulfilling four years at Decathlon. Not only do I help others lead a healthy lifestyle, but my colleagues around me have shown so much support. Some of them even learnt sign language to communicate better with me."

New hire, Mr Tay Wei Ming, is also heartened by the support he has received since becoming a Decathlon sports leader in racket sports last July.

The 33-year-old has Erb's palsy, a condition that affects the nerves in his right arm, resulting in a partial loss of function.

After picking up badminton at the age of nine, he has played professionally since 2014 and won the Para-Badminton World Championships in 2017.

He said: "Badminton has always been a big passion in my life. So being able to give advice to customers who want to know more about the sport makes my job very enjoyable."

Mr Tay, who still trains and competes during his free time, said an inclusive culture at workplaces like Decathlon is the way to go.

"Singaporeans are becoming more accepting and welcoming to people with disabilities in workplaces. It is heartwarming, and this gives encouragement to people like me to pursue anything we want to."

Source : https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/these-people-disabilities-thrive-jobs-decathlon

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