School sports: National School Games junior division competitions to be enhanced

The 2019 National School Games opening ceremony, held at the OCBC Arena on Jan 23, 2019.
The 2019 National School Games opening ceremony, held at the OCBC Arena on Jan 23, 2019. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
The changes aim to provide experiences which are more applicable to the developmental needs of young student-athletes, increase playing opportunities and playing time for these athletes, and encourage them to enjoy playing sports.
The changes aim to provide experiences which are more applicable to the developmental needs of young student-athletes, increase playing opportunities and playing time for these athletes, and encourage them to enjoy playing sports. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
These changes were conceptualised and customised for schools in consultation with the National Youth Sports Institute, relevant National Sports Associations and Sport Singapore.
These changes were conceptualised and customised for schools in consultation with the National Youth Sports Institute, relevant National Sports Associations and Sport Singapore.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Starting this year, basketball matches at the National School Games (NSG) junior division for primary school pupils will no longer be played on a full court, nor will games be five-versus-five.

Instead, they will be played on a half-court, and matches will be three-on-three. Each team will also comprise three sub-teams of three to five players, instead of 12 players.

These are some of the changes the Ministry of Education (MOE) unveiled on Wednesday (Jan 23), as part of a slew of structural and technical changes that will take place across the junior-division competitions by 2021. This follows the review - which started in 2015 and was completed in 2018 - of these competitions.

The changes aim to provide experiences which are more applicable to the developmental needs of young student-athletes, increase playing opportunities and playing time for these athletes, and encourage them to enjoy playing sports.

Speaking at this year's NSG opening ceremony at the OCBC Arena after the changes were announced, Senior Minister of State for Education Chee Hong Tat said: "These enhancements will enable our young athletes to enjoy their sporting experiences, have more opportunities to participate in competitions, and develop character and values through sports."

These changes were conceptualised and customised for schools in consultation with the National Youth Sports Institute, relevant National Sports Associations and Sport Singapore.

One of the structural changes provides the opportunity for 11-year-old pupils to play in either the junior (age nine to 11) or senior (age 12-13) division in 11 non-contact sports, so as to address individual differences in their maturation and skill development. This will be based on the students' readiness as assessed by teachers and coaches.

There will also be changes to areas such as the award and recognition systems, game formats, sporting equipment and substitution rules.

For example, games like basketball and floorball will become smaller-sided games played on a smaller court, which will allow players to have more touches of the ball.

Substitution rules for match-based sports will also require most, if not all, substitutes to play at some point in the match.