The Ministry of Education's (MOE) move to offer more co-curricular activity (CCA) opportunities for pupils by starting a pilot study with several primary schools to remove selection trials has been lauded as a step in the right direction by teachers, pupils, parents and several in the sports fraternity.
Many feel that the pilot, announced at the National School Games opening ceremony yesterday by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, is encouraging as it allows children to pursue their interests, which could benefit them in the long run.
Maheshwari Zubin, captain of Anchor Green Primary School's senior division floorball team, has several friends who missed out on the opportunity to take part in a CCA of their choice.
The Primary 6 pupil said: "It's a good initiative because some of my friends weren't selected for their preferred choice and were quite upset about it."
Madam Toh Mong Chian's daughter, who is in Secondary 1, encountered the same situation. She had wanted to take up badminton as a CCA and gone for her school's trial. But she was not selected and is still waiting to see which CCA she gets.
Madam Toh said: "Students should be allowed to enjoy school life and enjoy the CCA they are in."
Ms Marina Tan, who has a daughter in Primary 5, argued: "We should let students try out what they're interested in first because if they're interested in it, they're more likely to put effort into it.
"If you don't let them try it out first, when they are trying out things that are new to them, how would you know if they're good at it?"
Leaders in the sports fraternity also feel that this could help strengthen the sporting landscape in Singapore.
Mr Cyrus Medora, chief executive officer of Netball Singapore, sees a long-term and big-picture benefit to the move. He noted: "This is excellent news. Let kids enjoy sports, for I think this is what is missing from developing a sporting culture in Singapore.
"Let them develop their love of sport from their enjoyment of it. Then there isn't the pressure of winning at such a young age."
He also called for an "increase (in) the time that sport is played, for it develops character".
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) deputy president Bernard Tan added: "This is an important move that will benefit all sports in Singapore, including football.
"This will go some way to address declining participation rates in football among children, something that the FAS is trying to address."
The MOE will also continue its three-year pilot on the feasibility of providing Strategic-Partnership CCAs (SP-CCAs).
Students from West Spring Secondary School are already part of the SP-CCAs' athletics and ethnic dance programmes.
Mr Kelvin Poon Weng Hong, the school's head of department for physical education and CCA, said: "This gives people with different interests more options because resources in schools are limited and so a centrally run programme benefits both the school and students."
• Additional reporting by David Lee