Athletes' training can be considered NS

There has been much discussion on deferment of national service (NS) for national athletes ("Another fillip for S'pore sport"; Sept 27).

For some athletes training locally, there is no need to defer NS.

Take the example of national footballers of the past - they represented the Singapore Armed Forces and police in football competitions, while serving full-time NS.

Every day, they would have football training, instead of the usual army or police duties.

Such an arrangement should be reintroduced for all national footballers, as well as athletes of other sports, so that there is no disruption to their training and NS duties.

The training that footballers go through is just as tough as NS training.

They can go through Basic Military Training (or the equivalent course for the Home Team) to prepare them for duties during emergencies, and undergo refresher courses during their NS.

With this arrangement, the footballers will be able to concentrate fully on their football training.

The national team should be allowed to train together so that they will develop teamwork and understanding with one another. This will enable Singapore footballers to compete in the international arena.

This arrangement is also in line with the Ministry of Defence's policy of tapping the talents of Singaporeans when they serve NS.

Football also contributes to social and psychological defence, as it is able to bring Singaporeans of all races together to cheer for the national team. It can make people proud of being Singaporeans and build a Singapore identity.

Edward Ng Seow Hong