This was published in today’s edition of the Straits Times:
Struggling Singapore and lucky Kiwis
(The Straits Times, Forum, 03 Sept 2009)
AS THE parent of a rower from the victorious Singapore junior dragon boat team, I was glowing with pride – and gratified – to read Tuesday’s report, ‘Dragon boaters roar in Prague’.
For the past year or more, my daughter trained seven days a week and squeezed in additional time and labour between training to scour housing estates, collecting old newspapers and drink cans to help raise money to fund the trip to the Prague meet. She lugged these items from home to school as well. All this in addition to keeping up with her school work. My home was turned into a karung guni depot, stocked with old newspapers and drink cans.
Relatives chipped in by collecting these items and passing them to us during weekend family gatherings.
My neighbours must have thought we had financial problems.
I had to sacrifice my sleep to drive my daughter to training to save travel time and so she could get as much sleep as possible. She missed most weekend family gatherings around the dining table because of training or she was simply too pooped.
She – and we – made these sacrifices with one aim in mind: to send a national team to Prague and do Singapore proud. And it was mission accomplished for the 49-member squad of students who won four gold medals, three silvers and a bronze.
But here is the ironically disappointing postscript: My daughter and the team discovered that the national team from New Zealand which took part in the same championships was sponsored – by Singapore Airlines.
I was initially drawn to the picture of the dragon-boaters which accompanied this letter which was published in today’s edition of The Straits Times.
Then I started reading the letter. And mind you, it was a very good read. As you chug along, your first impression is that of a grateful parent writing to thank the ST for its coverage of our national dragon-boaters’ feats at the recent world championships in Prague.
Your second impression is that of the struggles that our young national athletes faced in raising funds for the trip and the iron will and determination they showed in overcoming this obstacle.
Bravo to them, you think, and here’s hoping that their national association will now get more funding from the Singapore Sports Council after the team’samazing feat of winning four golds, three silvers and a bronze.
Then it came: the last paragraph which stung like a lightning-quick scorpion’s tail:
“My daughter and the team discovered that the national team from New Zealand which took part in the same championships was sponsored – by Singapore Airlines.”
Truth be told, I initially felt the same sense of outrage and indignation as the parent of the dragon-boater who wrote this letter.
How embarrassing and how shameful, I thought.
But upon reflection, a question emerges: did the national association approach Singapore Airlines for any form of sponsporship in the first place?
If the NSA hadn’t, then I wouldn’t put any blame on SIA bcause seriously, it is not the company’s job to go out and look for sponsorship opportunities.
But if the NSA was proactive and did seek out our national carrier for some form of sponsorship and support , and if SIA declined the request/plea for help, then yes, I will be extremely outraged.
It would be interesting to see what SIA’s reply will be.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan