Forum Letter Replies

August 25, 2015

Inter-Agency Effort to Develop and Nurture Young Athletes

We thank Mr Philip Tan for his letter, “Create framework to support young sportsmen” (30/7/2015).

The Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and Sport Singapore (SportSG) work closely to nurture and support our young sports talents. To help them build a strong foundation in physical development, students are given exposure to a variety of sports through their schools’ Physical Education programme, modular sports programmes, sports competitions and sports events organised within schools, and sports co-curricular activities (CCAs). Since 2014, SportSG has been partnering schools, through ActiveSG, to complement their sports curriculum and expand sports opportunities for students. This includes exposing students to a range of new sports through the School Holiday Sports Programmes, working with schools to offer sports that are not offered as CCAs in the school, and helping schools to strengthen their existing CCA programmes.

To nurture students who have the interest and ability to excel in sports, MOE works together with MCCY, SportSG, National Sports Associations (NSAs) and the Singapore Sports School (Sports School) to provide development pathways. Budding sports talents will be able to explore and discover their strengths and passion in a range of sports at the primary school level through the Junior Sports Academies and sports CCAs, and subsequently make an informed choice to commit to one of them at a secondary school, including the Sports School, which was specially set up to enable them to pursue sports excellence and have a sound academic education. Closer collaboration between agencies to support student-athletes are bearing fruit, as seen in the achievements in the recent Southeast Asian Games, where student-athletes 18 years old and below formed 15% of Team Singapore and contributed to 22% of the Team Singapore medals. We also recognise that there are budding national athletes outside of the Sports School, and the strategic review of the Sports School seeks in part to address how the Sports School can better support them.

We will continue to support our young athletes to train and perform to the best of their ability. Supportive parents like Mr Philip Tan will also be an essential part of this journey.

Please publish the above reply in full.

Thank you.

Calvin Phua
Senior Director
Sports Division
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

Liew Wei Li (Ms)
Divisional Director
Student Development Curriculum Division
Ministry of Education

Create framework to support young sportsmen (Philip Tan, ST, 30/7, pA31)

I was an avid sportsman during my school days and benefited very much from my years of active involvement in sports in school (“Kadir to FAS: Get serious about schools football” and “A hit at Games but hard to make waves in schools”; both published last Saturday).

Now, 30 years later, our school sports scene has stayed unchanged - and maybe even regressed. Four of my daughters are in competitive sports at the school and national levels. However, I learnt that their school does not encourage their participation at the state level as it clashes with their school’s competitions.

My experience has led me to conclude that there is a lack of a framework to develop sportsmen, along with poor coordination and conflicting objectives between the Ministry of Education and Sport Singapore.

The resources to groom our young sportsmen are also not well deployed. Although the MOE runs the Junior Sports Academy and the Youth Sports Academy, the best of our young sportsmen are not participating in them.

There are no schemes, such as the Gifted Education Programme, to spot and groom talented sportsmen. It is parents who spend the money to groom their children to excel in sports.

Many in the sporting fraternity will agree that we do not lack sporting talent. But there are many obstacles that prevent them from pursuing their dreams.

There are enough sportsmen who are prepared to chase their dreams at the expense of the safe route of a well-paid job.

Our institutions need to come up with a comprehensive work plan to support the children’s aspirations rather than rely on the short-term fix of recruiting foreign talent.