Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the Launch of the MOE Junior Sports Academies 2010 on Thursday, 15 April 2010, at 3.00pm, at Ai Tong School

Distinguished guests,

Principals, Teachers,

Parents and students,

I am pleased to be here today to launch the MOE Junior Sports Academies 2010.

MOE developed the Talent Development Framework for Sports in 2007. This framework is in sync with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s vision for Singapore education, which is “Many Peaks of Excellence” to allow all students to realise their potential (as delivered at the Teachers’ Day Rally in 2006).

The Framework aims to systematically identify and provide talented athletes in our schools with developmental opportunities. One of the key strategies within the Framework is the set-up of the Junior Sports Academies (JSAs) for primary school students so that students who are talented in sports can be identified and be given appropriate learning opportunities to realise their sports potential.

By end 2009, fifteen JSAs have been set up catering to nine different sports. MOE has collaborated with the relevant National Sports Associations for the provision of top coaches to nurture our young talents with the vision of these student athletes articulating to either programmes in the Singapore Sports School or the Youth Sports Academies; and to represent Singapore in regional or international youth sports events like the Asian Youth Games or Youth Olympic Games.

Our pioneer batch of JSA athletes and their parents have indicated that they are delighted with the programmes provided by the JSAs.

In addition to regular training sessions, the JSA student athletes participated in sports carnivals, character building workshops and sports science clinics. More than 90% of the students cited they were happy with the activities and hoped to attend more in the future. Overseas training tours were also conducted to allow the student athletes to learn from other coaches and benchmark their skills. Adalia Jesse Colin, one of the Wushu JSA student athletes who went to Tianjin, China for the overseas trip reflected that, “I feel that the local coaches here in China are very patient. They are always willing to spot our mistakes and help us make the changes”.

This year, we will be setting up another six JSAs with two new sports added to the list. The new sports are Artistic Gymnastics, which will be hosted by Hwa Chong Institution, and Bowling, which will be hosted by the Singapore Sports School.

The two new sports have already found supporters for their programmes. Mdm Jolene Tan looks forward to the JSA programme as both her twin sons, Zon and Zac Liew, are selected for Artistic Gymnastics. She feels that the JSA will provide a more systematic development path compared to the ad-hoc lessons that she put her sons through. Mr Muhammad Azni strongly supports the JSA because he felt that the opportunity to train with top coaches and elite players from other schools will give his daughter, Iliya Syamim Binte Muhammad Azni of Haig Girls’ School, the extra impetus to learn and do well in her sport. Iliya is currently training with the Bowling JSA at Singapore Sports School.

The six newly appointed JSAs have been selected based on their achievement records, sporting culture and management support. I am confident that they will provide selected students with appropriate exposure to sports and allow their talents to be systematically developed.

As I launch the Junior Sports Academies today, my message to all the student athletes here is simple. Train hard and enjoy every moment. You will experience many highs and lows as you pursue your sporting dreams. Success will not come easy but the journey will definitely be one of the highlights in your life.

Thank you.