Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the 2nd MOE Junior Sports Academies Graduation Ceremony 2010 on Saturday, 16 October 2010, at 3.00pm, at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary)

Distinguished guests

Principals, Teachers

Parents and students

Introduction and Congratulations

I am pleased to be here today to celebrate the 2nd MOE Junior Sports Academy (JSA) Graduation Ceremony 2010.

The pioneer batch of MOE-JSAs was set up in 2008 and we have grown from strength to strength. We started with 7 JSAs catering to 6 different sports and presently we have a total of 21 JSAs island-wide providing training programmes for 11 sports. The number of students training in our JSAs has also grown steadily from the pioneer batch of 144 graduates to close to 800 students today. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 366 student athletes who will receive their graduation certificates as they have completed the 2-year training programme. Let us all give them a big round of applause.

In the past couple of years, the youth sports landscape has been tremendously enriched for sports in Singapore. Singapore organised the inaugural Asian Youth Games in July 2009 and most recently, Singapore played host to more than 3000 youths from around the world in a sporting spectacle that was the YOG in August 2010. I am sure that all of you here experienced had a chance to participate in the activities associated with the YOG in one way or another and it is my hope that you will continue to play a part, in your own way, as Singapore develops our own unique sporting culture.

PE and Sports Development Framework and Talent Development

The MOE PE and Sports Development Framework was announced by our minister, Dr Ng Eng Hen, at the joint opening ceremony of the Singapore 2010 Youth Sports Conference and the 3rd International Conference of Physical Education and Sports Science 2010. In this framework, the JSA is part of the Talent Development Programmes in our schools, and it creates a pipeline of athletes to represent the nation. MOE will continue our collaboration with the National Sports Associations (NSAs) to provide quality coaching and training programmes for all JSA athletes so that they will be able to realise their potential and hopefully one day represent the country.

We have feedback from participants on the value that these JSA programmes have for them. Muhammad Adib Nurhakim bin Azahari, one of the soccer JSA players, represents his school for rugby as there was no soccer team. He was selected to train with the Soccer JSA at Yio Chu Kang Primary School as he displayed good goalkeeping qualities with his agility and reflexes. He is currently training with a group of U-12s and preparing for an ASEAN primary schools soccer tournament to be held in Indonesia this coming November.

Adalia Jesse Colin and Goh Jun Wei, both pupils of Chongfu Primary School are training with the Wushu JSA @ Catholic High School. They are now training with the National Youth Team. Another similar instance would be our Table Tennis JSA athletes. Over the past three years, since the inception of the JSAs, several of the JSA Table Tennis athletes have also been identified and selected to train with the Singapore Table Tennis Association’s (STTA) youth development squad. Both cases just cited have illustrated the value-add that MOE’s JSAs can have on helping talented athletes to develop progressively from school to national level sports involvement.

At this juncture, I would like to make special mention of Ang Wan Qi from Chongfu Primary, one of our Table Tennis players from the Singapore Sports School JSA and also a member of the STTA’s youth development squad. She has progressed from being a school team player to a JSA athlete and moved on to being a member in the national training programme. She is a key player for her school team and has done very well in individual events such as the recent Dr Ng Eng Hen Cup where she achieved 1st for the U-12 category and 2nd for the U-15s. In addition, Wan Qi was awarded the fully-funded YOG scholarship to the Singapore Sports School as part of the YOG legacy. Let us give her a round of applause.

Sports and Life Values

Sports teach us life skills and participation in JSA programmes has contributed towards the athletes development. I quote Mr Ho Geok Hwee, father of Ho Say Kiat, one of the JSA participants, “The JSA programme has instilled confidence and discipline in Say Kiat and he has since been able to organise and juggle between his training schedules and academic work effectively. He has shown improvement in both sports and academic results (end of quote)”. Say Kiat is a pupil from Nanyang Primary School and a member of the Swimming JSA @ Anglo-Chinese School (Primary). The JSA provides the option for student athletes of various schools to train and spar with one another on a regular basis. Life-long friendships are forged and they learn sportsmanship at the same time. The Wushu student athletes get along very well during training and they even cheered for one another even though they are each others’ opponent during the national Inter-Primary Schools Championships. Sportmanships is clearly evident in this respect.

Appreciation and Thank you

Today, we have more than 360 student athletes graduating and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate them personally. You have shown commitment in your pursuit of this sporting dream and I encourage you to carry on. In addition, my sincere appreciation to all who have contributed to the success of this programme, namely the JSA hosts, NSAs, coaches, school principals and staff. Last but not least our athletes’ parents, without whom, the athletes would have lost their most ardent supporters for the past two years while they were on this programme.

I leave you all with a quote from the late John Wooden, probably the most famous US college basketball coach in history, (I quote) “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” (end of quote). Have faith in yourself and strive to become the best that you can be.

Thank you.