School Sports: Student-athletes, parents welcome return of National School Games in 2021

MOE announced that the National School Games would be back in 2021, on Oct 7, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - 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 web for updates on the status of the NSG.

When the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Wednesday (Oct 7) 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 co-curricular activities will be allowed to resume after the year-end examinations for primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges, are over, added the ministry.

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.

Keming Primary School floorballer Durga Devi Viknesyaran, who will be sitting for her PSLE next year, is one of the student-athletes delighted to hear the news about the NSG. PHOTO: COURTESY OF DURGA DEVI VIKNESYARAN

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," added the homemaker.

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 wife Lau Joo Meng, who is a homemaker, suggested having more substitutions in floorball games to ensure that there is minimal physical contact between players.

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."

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