Speeches

Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Home Affairs, at the Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) 40th Colours Award Presentation cum National School Games Closing Ceremony 2010 at Nanyang Polytechnic Auditorium on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 4pm

Ms Sum Chee Wah
Director, Education Programmes Division

Mr Goh Ek Piang
Deputy Director, Co-Curricular Activities Branch

Mr Lim Lai Chuan
Chairman, Singapore Schools Sports Council

Principals, Teachers and Parents,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Boys and Girls,

Good afternoon

Introduction and Congratulations

It is my pleasure to join all of you this afternoon at the Singapore Schools Sports Council’s 40th Colours Award Presentation cum National School Games Closing Ceremony. This is a significant annual event in which we recognize and celebrate the sporting excellence of our school athletes. I understand that this year’s award presentation also marks the first time that we are officially closing our National School Games.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 660 students who will receive the National Schools Colours Award and 1262 students who will receive the Zone Colours Award today. Amongst the awardees today, we have 153 students who represented the state at the recent Youth Olympic Games (YOG) or were members of the training squad. Let us give all of them a big round of applause.

Sports Excellence and Sportsmanship

Over the years, the Singapore Schools Sports Council has established a well-defined framework to groom our young sporting talent and establish a culture of sports excellence among our schools. Through the Zonal and National inter-school competitions, our young athletes are provided the opportunities to pit their skills against one another and in the process, build positive character and values through sports.

As I was looking through the criteria for the award of Colours, I noticed that the award serves to promote exemplary conduct and good sportsmanship. I would like to highlight some examples of sportsmanship that I read about in the newspapers1 . At the recently concluded Youth Olympic Games, after the United States beat Angola 30-8 in the girls’ basketball tournament at *Scape Youth Park, American star Andraya Carter sprinted after her opponents to offer a hand of friendship. This gesture was repeated by each of her team-mates. Chinese weightlifter Tian Yuan who broke two world junior records at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall also tugged the heartstrings in similar fashion when she embraced each of her opponents before stepping up onto the podium to receive her gold medal. These are acts of sportsmanship that we must emulate in the National School Games.

I am glad that the council is also evolving in its approach to recognizing sports excellence through the new award ceremonial framework and format due to the increasing number of awardees at all levels. As mentioned by Chairman, SSSC, Mr Lim Lai Chuan, we must move with the rapid development of sports in our country.

International Highlights in 2010

To develop these athletes further, those who excel in school sports are selected into the Singapore Schools teams and they participate in local national or age group competitions as well as the ASEAN and ASIAN Schools competitions. This year, the Singapore Schools teams took part in the 2nd ASEAN Schools Games held in Kuala Lumpur and won a total of 5 gold, 12 silver and 20 bronze medals. I was at the Games, I must say that the competition was stiff but I think the contingent put up a credible fight. Let’s give all our Singapore Schools athletes a round of applause. I look forward to even greater achievements from you all when we host the ASEAN Schools Games next year.

At the recently concluded inaugural Youth Olympic Games here, Team Singapore put up an “incredible” showing, with 131 athletes participating in 26 sports, and winning a total of seven medals (2 silver from swimming and table tennis; and 5 bronze medals 2 from taekwondo, one each from archery, sailing and football). In total, 23 athletes brought home a medal, and 14 athletes recorded their personal bests of which one was a new national record.

While it is heartening to learn that our athletes are doing well internationally, we must always remember that sports is not just about competition and receiving medals alone. The YOG values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect must prevail in all competitions.

I am particularly touched by the following two stories from the YOG that have captured our hearts this year. I am sure you are all familiar with the story of Low Wei Jie from Compassvale Primary. He ran for two and a half hours on a rainy Tuesday morning, just to see the Youth Olympic torch make its round through his neighbourhood. Clad in an orange T-shirt, blue shorts and ordinary-looking slippers, Wei Jie clutched his camera as he jogged alongside the flame and relay runners. In the process, he has inspired all of us to pursue our goals and “chase the flame”, regardless of the obstacles. I mentioned this story for two reasons. One, it was an achievement by an ordinary schoolboy who had his own dream. To Wei Jie, seeing the flame and taking the pictures of the flame was his YOG moment. Two, it showed that there is more than winning medals in the Olympics or any sports event. Anyone can be a champion during these games if we only set the relevant targets and go all out to find these goals. In that sense, the YOG is really the people’s games.

How about the story of our own Singapore Cubs? Considered an outsider by most, this team had the greatest strength any team can hope to have, and that is team spirit. This unbreakable cohesion was forged over four long years of hard work with numerous heartbreaks experienced, like their disastrous showing at last year’s Asian Youth Games. They also unexpectedly lost their beloved coach, David Sivalingam last year. All these must have been tough blows for our Cubs. Yet, they found the strength and rose to the occasion when it mattered. By delivering an unexpected bronze medal, they showed what true team spirit and grit can achieve. Their story of redemption is certainly valuable to us and we are proud of them.

Beyond YOG 2010

With a vibrant sport scene in the schools and these exciting happenings in the international sporting arena, I am confident that we are moving closer to achieving our vision to make Singapore one of Asia’s top 10 sporting nations. All of you present today are part of this vision. You can contribute towards this vision by continuing to participate in sports after you have left school. You would also realize later in life that the life skills you have learned through sport are important qualities for personal success.

As we bring closure to the National School Games this year, let us remember the memories and lessons garnered in these competitions so that we can better ourselves in future games.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate once again all recipients for achieving high standards of performance in your sporting activities. I hope the award will spur you on to greater dreams. My best wishes to all of you as you continue to strive for excellence in everything you do.

Please join me in giving a warm round of applause to all our young sportsmen and sportswomen.

Thank you.

Footnote

  1. “A day to remember” Today Paper by Shamir Osman on 16 August 2010