School sports

Return a shot in the arm for everyone

Durga Devi Viknesyaran has been practising floorball drills on her own after the National School Games were axed in May. The competition will be back next year, giving her the chance to play for Keming Primary School in her PSLE year.
Durga Devi Viknesyaran has been practising floorball drills on her own after the National School Games were axed in May. The competition will be back next year, giving her the chance to play for Keming Primary School in her PSLE year. PHOTO COURTESY OF DURGA DEVI VIKNESYARAN

Since the National School Games (NSG) were axed in May owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, Keming Primary School floorballer Durga Devi Viknesyaran has spent the past few months bugging her teacher-in-charge and searching the Internet for updates on the status of the NSG.

When the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Wednesday that the NSG would be back next year, 11-year-old Durga - and many other student-athletes like her - was delighted to hear the news.

"It's going to be special because I haven't played a match in so long," said Durga, who will be sitting the Primary School Leaving Examination next year. "I'm very motivated because this year, we couldn't play so I want to be champions next year."

The news was also welcomed by softballer Nur Aliya Natasya, who is a Secondary 3 student at Peicai Secondary School.

Natasya, 15, said: "I felt very happy because next year will be my last year in the school. It was sad (when the NSG was cancelled) because we dedicated our time and effort to training, but everything was gone."

In its announcement on Wednesday, MOE said that more details on the resumption of the NSG will be available at a later date, adding that the activities will resume with safe management measures in place.

More school and co-curricular activities will be allowed to resume from the middle of this month, after the year-end examinations for primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges.

With Singapore gradually easing Covid-19 restrictions in recent months, parents of the student-athletes were also happy to hear about the NSG's return next year, as long as there are precautionary measures in place.

The annual sports competition sees about 60,000 student-athletes competing across 29 sports.

Durga's mother, Ananthi Kandasamy, admitted that she initially had concerns when students were allowed to return to school in early June, but seeing how things were handled has reassured her that the NSG can restart safely.

Homemaker May Ng, 50, whose son Josiah plays squash, said: "Things are pretty calm in Singapore so it's good that the kids can start participating next year.

"We have to live with the new normal, we don't know how long this (coronavirus situation) will last."

IT professional Michael Teoh, whose two sons Julian and Ethan play floorball, believes that it will be good for his children to start competing again after months of practising drills at home.

Teoh, 51, said: "When they open up, I believe they'll be more stringent in terms of making sure that players get their temperature checked, they're healthy before they take part and probably (holding the NSG) without spectators, but at least that will give the kids an opportunity to play."

His homemaker wife Lau Joo Meng proposed more substitutions in floorball games so players spend less time on court, thereby minimising physical contact.

Football coach Tohari Paijan, 62, urged the authorities to take it slow, recommending that they start with small pilots such as inter-class games before progressing to friendlies between smaller groups of players to ensure the safety of student-athletes.

Tohari, who coaches Angsana Primary School and Temasek Junior College, said: "I care about the players' welfare and don't want them to be sick. We must see if it's safe first and monitor the situation."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2020, with the headline 'Return a shot in the arm for everyone'. Print Edition | Subscribe