Let welfare, passion of athletes be paramount

It is heartening that Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) president Tan Chuan-Jin emphasised the importance of athlete representation in the management committee of national sports associations (Call for athletes to take on board roles; Jan 28).

Mr Tan, who is also Speaker of Parliament, said that this will enhance the communication process between national sports associations (NSAs) and athletes, and "help the NSAs to create athlete-centric policies, as well as make decisions with athletes in mind".

I also recall a commentary by assistant sports editor Rohit Brijnath (When officials squabble, athletes often pay the price; June 27, 2017).

Mr Brijnath wrote that respect, among other things, is sporting officials appreciating that though they are older, they are there in the service of younger people.

He ended his piece by saying that "instead of promises and pledges, officials should quietly clean house".

Do not let Singapore's athletes - most of whom started when they were young with fire in their bellies, and who thought that their only opponents were those they faced on the court, arena or field - become disillusioned along the way when they realise that they also have "opponents" in their own backyard.

I hope that officials, not just in the NSAs but also in any organisation whose involvement in sports affects directly or indirectly the lives of athletes, will remember the following:

First, when one cleans house, as suggested by Mr Brijnath, one must not sweep things under the carpet.

Second, heed well the words of Mr Tan - his heart is in the right place.

Third, when officials sit in positions of authority, it is right for them to expect the respect that comes with the position. However, to have continued respect, one has to earn it.

Judy Wong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2018, with the headline 'Let welfare, passion of athletes be paramount'. Print Edition | Subscribe