Time to encourage our kids to dream

Joseph Schooling of Singapore celebrates after winning in the men's 100m Butterfly Final race of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Swimming events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 12.
Joseph Schooling of Singapore celebrates after winning in the men's 100m Butterfly Final race of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Swimming events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 12.PHOTO: EPA

Singapore winning its first Olympic gold has united the nation in celebration, and has sparked a discussion on how to better support sporting talents.

Many readers have rightly identified the difficulties in pursuing a passion in sports ("Study socio-economic factors for sporting success" by Mr Sim Eng Cheong, and "Rethink how to develop talents" by Mr Tan Ah Ung; both published yesterday).

Like Singapore's Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling, many athletes sacrifice a great deal of time, energy and money, all of which could have instead been channelled towards attaining an iron-rice-bowl future.

But this impediment in chasing one's passion is not confined to sports. People seeking a career in non-conventional industries such as the arts face similar hurdles in their career.

This stems from our unhealthy obsession as a nation with staying within our comfort zones.

It is time for us to encourage our children to dream and to support them wholeheartedly in pursuing their passions, even if it is in an industry that does not guarantee a high-paying salary.

It is time for our nation to move beyond cookie-cutter career paths and to look beyond grades achieved in school.

As many other Singaporeans like Schooling have shown, pursuing our passion doesn't just bring us success. More importantly, it gives us an indescribable sense of fulfilment in our lives.

Ang Ter Shien

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Time to encourage our kids to dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe