Over 300 student-athletes to get Colours Awards despite cancellation of National School Games this year

Among the winners this year is paddler Koen Pang.
Among the winners this year is paddler Koen Pang.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The National School Games may have been axed this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic, but 309 student-athletes will still be recognised for their sporting achievements and good character at the 50th Singapore School Sports Council (SSSC) Colours Awards. 

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Tuesday (Oct 13) that the winners of this year’s awards were selected based on their performances in competitions – such as last year’s SEA Games – prior to the pandemic.

Participation and achievements at external events were also considered in previous editions of the award. 

There was also no change to the appraisal period from September last year till August for this year’s awards, though the number is significantly lower than the 8,700 recipients from secondary schools, junior colleges and Millennia Institute for last year.

“While there were fewer competition opportunities for sports this year, it is important to continue encouraging our student-athletes by recognising those who have excelled in their individual sports,” said the MOE. 

The move was lauded by student-athletes, coaches and parents.  

Edgefield Secondary School student Regan Chin, who is this year’s Best Sportsboy for taekwondo, is among the 39 who will receive the Best Sportsboy and Best Sportsgirl awards. They include national athletes Koen Pang (table tennis), Gan Ching Hwee (swimming) and Lincoln Forest Liqht Man (gymnastics).

“I feel quite appreciated because sometimes student-athletes’ efforts are not recognised and some may feel like they’re not achieving anything and quit the sport,” said 14-year-old Regan.

Guo Xiuwen, whose daughter Sara plays badminton, said: “To a certain extent, this gives the students the motivation to continue to work hard as they are convinced that their efforts are not in vain.”

Marina Tan, whose son Ignatius is a volleyball player, agreed, saying that it would be a form of encouragement for student-athletes to “do well in competitions despite this difficult time”.

Netball coach Kok Mun Wai, who coaches CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh) and Anglo-Chinese Junior College also welcomed the move. “The players are all very disappointed that there was no NSG so it’s good that there’s this given the effort they put in to train,” she said.

But tennis coach Gary Tan was worried that this year’s format might only give recognition to elite athletes. But the 51-year-old, who coaches Raffles Girls’ School, added that “there’s nothing too much to say whether it’s fair because this situation is unprecedented”.

To avoid mass gatherings, the awards will be presented to recipients by their respective schools during school-based ceremonies.

Analysis

The cancellation of the NSG in May undoubtedly left many student-athletes gutted. But even during the circuit breaker and phase two of Singapore's reopening before the decision to axe the Games was made, many still stuck diligently to their training regimens in the confines of their homes, eagerly hoping for the return of the annual competition. 

The MOE's decision to recognise the accomplishments of students - albeit a fraction of the number of recipients in previous years' SSSC Colours Awards - is commendable. 

With a handful of this year's recipients being national athletes who have represented Singapore on the international stage, it may beg the question of whether this year's Colours Awards only honours elite student-athletes, but given the present circumstances, it is a fair effort at acknowledging the work that these young athletes have put in.

Coupled with the ministry's recent announcement that the NSG will be back next year, this could be the encouragement student-athletes need as they return to the courts and fields that they have missed for months in anticipation of the upcoming season.