Students raring to go as National School Games are declared open

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SINGAPORE - Student-athetes competing at the National School Games (NSG) could soon hear the cheers of their schoolmates in the stadiums and halls, with the Ministry of Education (MOE) looking into allowing in-person student spectators at some games in a few weeks’ time. 

This was revealed by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing in a Facebook post on Thursday (April 7), after he attended the NSG opening ceremony at Our Tampines Hub. He wrote: “We recognise that your peers have played important roles in your journey as athletes... More details will be shared with your schools.”

The ministry’s move follows some calls from parents for spectators to be allowed at the NSG, with Mr Chan’s post published after media queries on the matter.

One of the parents who had hoped for the rules to be relaxed was Ms Caroline Menon-Sanders, 43, who last watched her daughter compete in a netball tournament for CHIJ Secondary in 2018. 

Ms Menon-Sanders, who works in the hospitality industry, said: “My husband and I would love to go, and it would be nice that both parents can be part of (the journey). Their teachers and fellow students would want to support them as well.”

MOE did not indicate if parents would be allowed to watch the NSG in person.

Hockey player Hiren Koban, 17, hoped that his parents would be able to watch him in his final NSG season for Raffles Institution. 

But the rules have not dampened his enthusiasm ahead of his first 11-a-side match since 2019.

The Year 6 student said: “The level of play and pressure are higher when you compete. I miss playing with my teammates, and the feeling of competing is something you rarely get.”

Other student-athletes like Abigail Kom are also raring to go. The teenager joined fencing as a co-curricular activity two years ago and had looked forward to representing Greendale Secondary in the NSG.

But the pandemic saw the Games cancelled in 2020, and fencing was not one of the 12 sports that featured last year as the event returned in a restricted format.

Now in Secondary 3, Abigail, 14, will finally make her NSG debut this year. She will be among 60,000 students in action as the Games return with all 29 sports this year.

The B Division boys' sepak takraw match between Woodlands Secondary School (left) and Assumption Pathway School at Our Tampines Hub on April 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
The B Division girls' netball match between St. Hilda's Secondary School and Cedar Girls' Secondary School at Our Tampines Hub on April 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

In his speech on Thursday, Mr Chan noted that over 97 per cent of secondary, junior college and centralised institute students are full vaccinated, as are about seven in 10 primary school pupils. 

Stressing that “students’ safety is always our utmost priority”, he said that “the high vaccination rate among our students has given us greater confidence to resume all the games... while mitigating the risks of participation”.

Mr Chan Chun Sing (third from left) lighting the National School Games cauldron at Our Tampines Hub on April 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Mr Chan thanked students and other stakeholders for being flexible and working together to support the fight against Covid-19. Stressing the importance of making the best of their situations, he urged students to “seize the day”.

Taking that lesson to heart is Abigail, who said: “I really want to do well for my school. But I know that I need to enjoy (the Games) in order to do well, so I will try my best no matter the outcome.”

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