Create framework to support young sportsmen

Singapore Sports School shuttlers doing leg exercises.
Singapore Sports School shuttlers doing leg exercises.PHOTO: ST FILE

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.

Philip Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Create framework to support young sportsmen'. Print Edition | Subscribe