Opportunities abound to fuel sport pursuits

Boys from the combined team of ACS (Barker Road) and Queensway Secondary during their twice-a-week training sessions at the Delta Hockey Pitch. Each school now has 18 hockey players.
Boys from the combined team of ACS (Barker Road) and Queensway Secondary during their twice-a-week training sessions at the Delta Hockey Pitch. Each school now has 18 hockey players.ST FILE PHOTO

New programmes offer students avenues to indulge interests not offered at own schools

Students at Xinmin Secondary School this year enjoyed the opportunity to participate in more than double the number of sports the school offers as co-curricular activities (CCAs).

Volleyball, rock-climbing and shooting for both boys and girls, and badminton only for girls, are CCAs at the school.

But thanks to the school sports partnership (SSP) programme introduced by national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) in February, students at Xinmin were also able to try their hand at badminton, basketball, football, floorball and cross-country. These sports, however, are still not considered CCAs.

"Previously, our students were only able to engage in unstructured play during recess or after school," said Xinmin head of department for physical education and CCA Gabriel Tay.

The SSP programme, which taps into SportSG's network of ActiveSG academies and clubs, is one of the initiatives under the Children and Youth Sport framework, part of the Vision 2030 national blueprint for sport. The framework was one of 15 recommendations announced by SportSG yesterday at the Black Box Auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Tay said the take-up rate for the five new sports offered through the SSP programme was "very encouraging", and added: "The greatest benefit for our students was the opportunity for them to work with professional coaches and our PE teachers to learn a sport they are interested in through a well-structured programme."

In total, about 2,000 students from 19 schools have participated in the SSP programme across nine sports.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore Disability Sports Awards at the Carlton Hotel last night, said the initiative meets the requests of parents who want their child to participate in sports not offered by their schools.

"By building this complementary system, we think that we're better able to support the children, the students and their parents in their schooling years," she said. "We are looking forward to seeing how we can broaden these partnerships."

Ms Fu also said she was heartened by the "good results" already yielded by the programme, and added: "A lot more young people are participating actively and we hope this participation will carry on after they leave school or when they are in the workplace.

"So this (focus) is, really, to try to inculcate sport as a lifestyle starting with the young people."

Another initiative under the Children and Youth Sport framework is strategic partnership co-curricular activities (SP-CCAs). Under this programme, students are able to pursue their sporting interests and represent their school in national competitions, even if the school does not offer the sport as a CCA.

Students also receive CCA points recognition. For instance, in July Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) and Queensway Secondary School fielded a combined team for the National C Division boys' hockey tournament in a pilot of the programme. The sport had not been a CCA at either school for decades.

SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said the initiatives fill a void that individual national sports associations (NSAs) would struggle to serve.

He explained: "One of the things where ActiveSG has an advantage in a way the private academies and NSAs don't have, is it has put in place a structure to be able to build relationships with individual schools, because we are geographically located (at many facilities) across Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Opportunities abound to fuel sport pursuits'. Print Edition | Subscribe