January 23, 2019
Cultivating the Joy of Playing Sports for Life: Enhanced Junior Division Competitions
1. Following the completion of the National School Games (NSG)’ Junior Division Review in 2018, a suite of enhancements will be implemented across Junior Division competitions by 2021. These enhancements will bring about more learning and developmental experiences for primary school students.
2. As the first formal inter-school competition for our Primary 3 to 5 students, these changes aim to develop in them a sustained lifelong enjoyment and participation in sports. The changes are also part of the Ministry of Education’s continual efforts to strengthen the holistic development of primary school students, by:
- Providing more developmentally-appropriate competition experiences to suit the developmental needs of young student-athletes;
- Increasing playing opportunities and playing time for young student-athletes to gain game experience; and
- Encouraging young student-athletes to enjoy playing sports and appreciate the intrinsic value of sports.
3. Speaking at the 2019 NSG Opening Ceremony, Senior Minister of State for Education, Mr Chee Hong Tat, said, “These enhancements will enable our young athletes to enjoy their sporting experiences, have more opportunities to participate in competitions, and develop character and values through sports.”
4. The suite of enhancements cuts across most sports and can take the form of changes to awards and recognition, competition format, age group division, game format, equipment, and game rules. Some changes have already been rolled out since 2018, with the remainder to be fully implemented by 2021.
5. Award and Recognition Systems – To create more opportunities for young student-athletes to be recognised for their efforts and achievements, position-based recognition for individual events will be increased from the current top four positions to the top eight positions, where appropriate. Criterion-based recognition will also be introduced for relevant sports, such as timings for track and field and the number of pin-falls in tenpin bowling, to promote self-improvement, mastery and the importance of striving for goals based on objective targets.
6. Competition Formats – To increase playing opportunities for student-athletes to gain competition experience, competition formats for match-based sports will change from the current ‘single-pyramid’ structure to a tiered competition structure with multiple apexes. In this revised format, all participating teams will play a classification round of competition followed by a tiered round of competition, where they will compete against teams of similar abilities. This allows teams that are otherwise eliminated early in the current knockout competition format to double the number of matches they play.
7. Age Group Divisions – To address individual differences in their maturation and skills development, 11-year-old students will be given the opportunity to play either in the Junior or Senior division in 111 non-contact sports, based on the students’ readiness to be assessed by the teachers and coaches.
8. Game Formats – To help our young student-athletes master the fundamental game and movement skills appropriate for their age group, changes to some game formats will be made. For example, territorial-invasion games like basketball and floorball will become smaller-sided games played on a smaller court. The revised game formats place less emphasis on complex tactical concepts and allow players to have more touches of the ball. This helps young student-athletes to master their game and movement skills.
9. Sporting Equipment – To allow young student-athletes to grasp the proper playing techniques, some sports will be using more age-appropriate equipment. For example, in tennis, the regular tennis balls will be replaced with orange-dot and green-dot balls, which are slower and have a lower bounce, so that players can focus on mastering the proper strokes.
10. Substitution Rules – To create opportunities for more players to gain competition experience, substitution rules for match-based sports will require most, if not all, substitutes to play at some point in the match.
11. These changes and enhancements are aligned with practices advocated by international sports organisations and found in other countries with positive youth sport practices. They were conceptualised and customised for our schools in consultation with the National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI), relevant National Sports Associations (NSA) and SportSG.
About the National School Games
12. NSG, which runs from January to August every year, is the largest and most extensive annual youth sports event in Singapore, with more than 400 sports championships. This year, about 58,000 student-athletes from more than 365 primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and the Millennia Institute, are expected to take part in 29 different sports2.
13. The NSG provides opportunities to build character, resilience and discipline among our student-athletes, as they pursue sporting excellence. In addition to the NSG 2019 Opening Ceremony, schools will also conduct their own symbolic ceremonies throughout February to enable students to show support for each school’s representatives and appreciate the value of sports participation.