This report came out in The New Paper last Friday, and frankly, it came across as a breath of fresh air.
I enjoyed it because it dared to say something that the other papers seem to have either failed to notice, or are not daring to raise for fear of goodness knows what.
The question that The New Paper asked was very pointed:
In our quest for SEA Games glory. have we forgotten the need to use the Games as the platform to build and develop our local talent?
Indeed, is all this talk about local talent development by the new regime at the Singapore Table Tennis Association nothing but lip service?
After all, at the end of the day, the message it seems to be sending budding local talents like Zena Sim and Isabelle Li is this: “You’re good enough to play for us during the preliminary, non-crucial matches but we will stick to the foreign talents when it comes to the crunch. We don’t want to take any unneccessary risks”.
Food for thought.
Local talent needs exposure (The New Paper, 11 Dec 2009)
By Ernest Luis
TO WHAT extent do you sacrifice local talent in order to get gold, and win for Singapore?
To start this debate, it’s worth noting that Singapore’s South-east Asia Games women’s table tennis team that won gold yesterday is actually second in the world rankings behind China.
So when is the best time to field a rising star like 19-year-old Zena Sim, the only homegrown player in the women’s team?
Firstly, the SEA Games gold medal that Singapore’s women’s team won yesterday was not its first in this regional event.
So the desperation factor was not as great.
Was this the pinnacle – the Olympics – at stake? No.
Was this the Asian Games? No.
Was this even the Commonwealth Games? No.
This was the SEA Games.
It was an event in which even Singapore’s opponents had surrendered before the semi-finals were played yesterday morning.
Malaysia said they would lose.
They lost 0-3.
Thailand – whom Singapore’s women met in the final yesterday afternoon – said way back on Tuesday it would be easier to walk back to Bangkok, than to win the gold.
They lost too, 0-3.
If the opponents were so weak in the mind, and our women’s team were so strong and confident, why the seeming ‘kiasu’ attitude of trying to seal the gold medal as early as possible?
Imagine an in-form Zena cushioned alongside Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu against the Thais in the final. Couldn’t Singapore take a little risk for some valuable exposure?
Even if Zena were to lose her game, wasn’t there still enough strength in depth from Feng and Wang to overcome any deficit in a best-of-five series?
Singapore would still have won the gold, unless they are mentally so fragile when they lose a game.
As it is, the Thais were all the stronger in terms of exposure even though they lost.
But in the Singapore team’s eagerness to seal yet another SEA Games gold medal in women’s table tennis, did they let slip a chance to expose homegrown Zena to this level of competition when they had a great chance in a final?
What is the message from the Singapore Table Tennis Association to other homegrown players when the journey got closer to a gold medal?
Was the eagerness worth the ‘sacrifice’?
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan