School sports: 32-0 game 'played respectfully', say Sports School and Assumption Pathway

Singapore Sports School had thrashed Assumption Pathway School in a preliminary-round football game on Jan 20, 2020. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Sports School (SSP) and Assumption Pathway School (ASP), whose B Division boys' football teams played out a 32-0 National School Games match that sparked debate among the fraternity, said on Thursday (Jan 30) that the match was "played respectfully and the players displayed resilience and effort".

In a joint statement on Thursday, both schools said: "We thank the football fraternity for their concerns and hope that the commentaries on the game will recede so that our boys can be given space to play and enjoy their games going forward."

SSP had thrashed APS in a preliminary-round game on Jan 20. That meant that on average, a goal was scored every 2½ minutes in the 80-minute match. The scoreline, which was the highest in schools football in the last four years, ignited discussion about competitiveness and fair play in school sports, with some calling for tweaks in the format of competition to avoid repeats of such one-sided encounters.

The statement, which appeared on both schools' Facebook pages, thanked "concerned parties" for their feedback on the game.

"We wish to assure everyone that both teams agreed to play our best in the spirit of true sportsmanship," said Mohamed Tahir, ASP's head of department, co-curricular activities, and Tan Bee Lian, SSP's director of sports in the statement.

"The match was played respectfully and the players displayed resilience and effort. The boys from both teams enjoyed the game and drew valuable lessons from it. These include the mistakes and good moves made.

"They also knew that beyond the qualifying rounds, they will be playing with teams of comparable abilities, where they will need to continue playing their best."

Both teams also came together for a post-match debrief where players and coaches from SSP "praised the (APS) team for their great fighting spirit", added the statement.

"We are proud of the players for showing good friendship, teamwork and sportsmanship - values that the National School Games aim to promote."

The SSP's football programme has produced a number of national players since the school's inception in 2004, including Safuwan Baharudin and two of local football icon Fandi Ahmad's sons, Irfan and Ikhsan.

The SSP has won the Schools National B Division competition eight times since 2007.

APS is a specialised school that offers vocational programmes for students who are unable to access or complete secondary education.

In the current format of schools football, after the preliminary round, schools are sorted into five different tiers of 16 teams, where they are broken up into groups of four.

This has resulted in a number of lopsided scorelines between mismatched teams in recent years. Last year's schools competition saw SSP routing NUS High School of Mathematics and Science 29-0, while Marsiling Secondary beat APS 20-0.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.