Singapore Masters Athletics aims high with academy
Singapore Masters Athletics (SMA) deputy president Samuel Veera Singaram believes that their new track and field academy will herald a new dawn for local athletics.
In recent decades, Singapore athletics has failed to shine on the continental stage. It is in stark contrast to the '70s, when the Republic posted a total of one gold, two silvers and four bronzes at the 1970 and 1974 Asian Games.
But Samuel, 66, hopes their new initiative will revive the fortunes of local athletics.
He said: "Athletics has a lot of potential to win a lot of medals. We won so much in the '70s, but we're struggling now, and we want to change that."
Samuel was speaking at the SMA National Day Dinner at Suntec City Convention Centre on Saturday, which was graced by guests of honour Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung and MP for Marine Parade GRC Dr Fatimah Lateef.
The academy, which was launched at the dinner, commences operations in December and will take in up to 200 children and youths from the ages of 10 to 16.
They will be selected through national meet results and talent scouting, and will be coached by former greats like Glory Barnabas and K. Jayamani.
In addition to waiving fees, the academy will provide a monthly transport stipend of $20 for needy children.
Said Samuel: "We wanted to start an academy that focused on the developmental years, and also keep the kids away from bad influences.
"Whether you're a rich or poor kid, it doesn't matter. No money and no place to go, you can just come."
Aside from the launch, the event also saw former athletes like Jayamani, C. Kunalan, Noor Azhar Hamid, Beatrice Klass and Maurice Nicholas honoured with lifetime achievement awards.
Dr Fatimah believes that they can serve to inspire future generations of Singaporeans
She said: "It's wonderful we can celebrate these people, and use them as role models for our citizens and for the young ones in the academy." - JONAH FOONG