A review to spark primary school sports
To boost playing chances for youngsters, 21 Junior Division competitions set for a revamp
Swimmer Joseph Schooling, the country's first Olympic gold medallist, sprinter Chee Swee Lee, the Republic's track and field star who won a 400m gold at the 1974 Asian Games, and Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundram Moorthy, two men who wowed the nation with their football exploits - Singapore wants more such athletes by growing a talent pool while also developing a rugged and healthy population in love with sport.
A review of junior-level school sports currently being undertaken here could be the springboard to achieving the twin goals.
Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng announced yesterday at the opening ceremony of the National School Games (NSG) at the OCBC Arena that the Junior Division competitions, for primary school pupils aged nine to 11, are being reviewed over the next three years.
The aims are to increase playing opportunities and playing time for young student-athletes and reduce perceived stakes of the various competitions while maintaining competitive standards and, at the same time, emphasising sporting excellence.
In his speech, Ng said: "The review of Junior Division competitions seeks to design competition experiences that are developmentally more appropriate... by strengthening their fundamental skills and cultivating the joy of playing sports.
"I look forward to seeing these important changes that support the development of our young athletes."
Organised by the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council (SPSSC), all 21 sports in the Junior Division competitions, including badminton, gymnastics, football, hockey and floorball, are being reviewed.
The review committees are led by the respective national conveners for each of the competitions.
Some of the changes will be achieved through changing the competitions' formats.
In order to give student-athletes the chance to play more games, the floorball review committee, for instance, is introducing a new three-tier system to replace the round-robin group stages.
North View Primary School teacher and floorball coach Mohammed Hafeez, 34, who is part of the committee, said: "It does not just focus on success if you achieve top three, because now we are awarding different awards at different levels of competition."
LIMITED PLAYING TIME
The Ministry of Education's divisional director of student development curriculum Tan Chen Kee feels that the current system is restrictive because there is limited playing time for pupils of teams that don't progress far.
She said: "We feel that for primary school children, that's not ideal. We want them to have exposure, develop the resilience and the sports mindset."
Tan stressed that outside of the NSG, physical education lessons would also play a part in promoting sports.
The 21 sports competitions at primary school level being reviewed:
Badminton, basketball, floorball, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, netball, rope skipping, rugby, sailing, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, tenpin bowling, track & field, volleyball, wushu