Monthly Archives: December 2008

A timely reminder for the people running Singapore sport

It was a great year for Singapore sport in so many areas. Picture from www.ssc.gov.sg

It was a great year for Singapore sport in so many areas. Picture from http://www.ssc.gov.sg

In recent days, the media has been devoting a lot of column inches to describing 2008 as the best year ever for Singapore sport.

And it’s hard not to see why. 

Singapore won its first Olympic medal – a silver – in 48 years at this year’s Beijing Olympics through the women’s table-tennis team while Tao Li became the first Singapore swimmer to qualify for a swimming final and even won a World Cup gold.

We even had our first-ever Paralympic champion in disabled swimmer Yip Pin Xiu.

We also have our first AMF world champion in bowler Jasmine Yeong-Nathan, while our footballing Lions advanced to the third stage of the World Cup qualification stages, the furthest they have ever gone to date.

Golfer Lam Chih Beng won his first Asian Tour Masters title and became the first Singaporean to go all four rounds at the British Open.

And not only did we land the hosting rights for the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympics, our first F1 night race was a spectacular success, acclaimed all over the world as this year’s best race on the circuit.

But here’s a letter from a reader of The Straits Times which I felt was a timely reminder of the state of Singapore sports.

Wipe away the feel-good magic dust from our eyes and one still sees that there are many areas in Singapore sport that still need to be worked on, areas which have resulted in our having to import foreign talent to help us to achieve some of our sporting successes.

In other words, while Singapore may have made a mark on the international sporting stage this year, there are still many areas for improvement. And if we don’t work on hese areas, Singapore sport will forever remain in its current situation.

Let us not blind ourselves to this fact.

I thought I’d share this letter with you as the year comes to a gradual close:

Singapore can learn from Netherlands (The Straits Times, 30 Dec 2008)

 

EARLIER this month, I was surprised to read that the Football Association of Singapore will give each local club a subsidy of $2,000 a month to hire foreign players.

 

A constructive discussion is needed to explore the wisdom of this policy of attracting foreign talent.

 

I am interested in a fundamental question: Where is Singapore’s homegrown sports talent? Is our population too small, justifying the need to import foreign-born athletes?

 

To find the answer, it is helpful to look at another ‘small’ nation which has successfully cultivated numerous sports talent: the Netherlands. It has a population of 16 million, about four times that of Singapore. Despite its size, it has produced some of the world’s finest footballers. Older fans will remember Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp, while the younger generation marvel at Ruud van Nistelrooy and Edwin van der Sar. The Dutch national football team is praised for its quality and attractive playing style.

 

The Netherlands not only has great football players but also excels in other sports. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, it won seven gold medals and finished just outside the top 10, above bigger countries like Spain.

 

If population size is a benchmark, then Singapore should be able to achieve at least 25 per cent of what the Dutch have done.

 

The secret lies in its integrated national sports policy. It goes far beyond providing scholarships.

 

To put it simply, the government recognises the importance of sports as a unifying force in society and values success in sports as much as academic achievement. It supports potential athletes throughout their life: from infrastructure to develop talent to education in a career after their sporting success. Young talents do not have to choose between a career in sports and their studies or work: They can have both. Businesses play their part by combining training and work schedules.

 

In essence, young hopeful sport talents in the Netherlands do not sacrifice their future but enhance it by pursuing their passion for sport.

 

Talented Singapore athletes often drop out long before they hit their full potential because of studies or career. Too often, they say ‘no’ to a sports career and choose the usual life route.

 

I ask the Government to develop a long-term strategic vision and plan to develop locally born and bred talent. It must steer away from pragmatic ‘quick-win’ solutions like recruiting foreign talent. Pragmatism may work in the short term, but it is no long-term sustainable solution.

 

More important, solutions like the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme do not inspire Singapore as a nation.

 

Lim Hing Kock

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Newsflash: National Schools Track and Field and Swimming C’ships to be held in May instead of July

Singapore’s top school track and field athetes and swimmers will have two months less to prepare for their respective National Schools Championships next year.

According to a report in The New Paper today (27 December 2008), the Ministry of Education has revealed that the two competitions – the biggest and most glamorous of all the national inter-school championships – will be held in May next year.

Top student athletes like Singapore Sports School hurdler Goh Wei Ning will have less time to prepare for the National Schools Track and Field C'ships next year

Top student athletes like Singapore Sports School hurdler Goh Wei Ning will have less time to prepare for the National Schools Track and Field C'ships next year

This is to accommodate both the Asian Youth Games (AYG), which Singapore will host in July, and the Asean Schools Games which will be held in Thailand after that.

In fact, almost all national school tournaments – both at zonal and divisional level – will be over by May, said the MOE.

The only sports that will continue to have their competitions in July are judo and C Division hockey, rugby, basketball and football.

“To facilitate our student athletes’ participation in the AYG, the Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) has made adjustments to the school sporting calendar in 2009,” said an MOE spokesman to The New Paper. 

“All inter-school sporting competitions, including zonal and national competitions for the A, B and C Divisions, under the purview of SSSC, will be held from January to May in 2009 instead of the usual period of January to July.”

The decision to bring forward the tournaments was made in consultation with school principals, heads of departments and teachers.

Whle the MOE said the schools welcome and support the change, the shift of the National Schools Track and Field and Swimming Championships could affect the preparations of top athletes and swimmers and in turn, their ability to set new records at both competitions.

This year, a whopping 23 new records were set at the National Schools Track and Field Champonships while 15 new marks were recorded at the National Schools Swimming Championships.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Precious gets a 1/10 from radio deejay Glenn Ong – but the joke could be on us in the end

Heard this on the radio today.

Popular Class 95 FM radio deejay Glenn Ong, who hosts The Morning Show with the Flying Dutchman, was giving his ratings for each Singapore player in the aftermath of Singapore’s 0-1 loss toVietnam in the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final.

Ong ran through the list of names and his ratings were pretty high for most of the players. Defender Noh Rahman got a 7, Mustafic Fahrudin got an 8, likewise Baihakki Khaizan and Noh Alam Shah, and ditto for Muhammad Ridhuan got an 8 as well. Even Agu Cashmir got a 7 (altough I couldn’t understand why).

The Flying Dutchman then told Ong that he missed out a player- defender Precious Emurejeraye.

Ong’s reply was swift: “Precious? I rate him….. a ONE.”

He then went on to describe Precious’ performance as akin to that of a “handicapped elephant” and said that the Nigerian-turned-Singaporean was completely to blame for the goal tha Vietnam scored to send Singapore tumbling out of the semi-finals.

It was all pretty funny, truth be told.  But it was also the bitter truth.

Slow and cruely exposed against Vietnam, Precious Emuejeraye (left) is clearly emerging as a defensive liability for the Lions  Picture from www.daylife.com

Slow and cruely exposed against Vietnam, Precious Emuejeraye (left) is clearly emerging as a defensive liability for the Lions Picture from http://www.daylife.com

This is not the first time that the lumbering naturalised citizen has been criticised for being slow and for being constantly out of position.

He was also cruelly exposed and outplayed during the first-leg of the semi-final in Hanoi and only the goalpost and the astute goalkeeping of Lionel Lewis prevented Vietnam from romping home to a 3-0 win. 

What Precious has going for him is his size and strength. But even that proved to be of little use against the marauding Uzbeks when they trounced the Lions 7-3 at the National Stadium during the Asian World Cup qualifiers.

Precious’ inability to keep up with speedy attackers has not only been exposed but is clearly fast becoming a liability for the Lions.

Glenn Ong’s wisecrack was funny today.

Unfortunately, the joke will be on all of us if national coach Raddy Avramovic persists in fielding Precious in the heart of defence alongside Baihakki Khaizan when the Asian Cup qualifiers come around in January.

Woe betide us then.

And if Avramovic does, the question remains: is Precious one of the best central defenders in the S-League?

If so, what does that say about the standards of the S-League itself?

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan 

Related links:

21 Dec – One-dimensional Singapore crash to Vietnam at Kallang, bow out of Suzuki Cup

18 Dec – AFF Suzuki Cup – Singapore escapes with 0-0 semi-final draw despite embarrasingly poor show

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