Thursday 16 February 2012

A vision for sports - Vision 2030

By Tan Weizhen, TODAY, 14 Feb 2012

It is an ambitious objective: To make sports a part of the Singaporean lifestyle.

And in unveiling its raft of recommendations at a press conference yesterday, the Vision 2030 steering committee - chaired by Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing - was under no illusion of the task ahead.

"We think it takes a generation to be able to appreciate a mental frame that Vision 2030 espouses - that sports is a part of your life, not an adjunct to your life," said Singapore Sports Council CEO Lim Teck Yin, who is part of the 23-strong committee that included members from the Government, the sports fraternity as well as the private sector.

The committee was set up in July last year to chart the path for Singapore sports over the next two decades.

After seven months of public consultation, the committee has drawn up 19 recommendations aimed at creating more opportunities for Singaporeans young and old to take part in competitive or recreational sports, improving access to facilities and enhancing sports expertise.

From working with schools to increase parents' involvement in their children's sporting activities and a more integrated academic and sporting curriculum for student athletes, to the setting up of a competitive sports league for companies and the creation of a "fitness ecosystem for seniors", the committee hopes to "provide opportunities for all, not just for a small group of people who may already be in the sporting circle" - as Mr Chan put it.

Mr Chan added: "The ecosystem comprises not just sportsmen and athletes ... We wanted to address all these issues because we believe that, once we get the fundamentals right, then the results will be delivered accordingly."

Speaking to Today, Fencing Singapore president Nicholas Fang noted that, even with the availability of good sports facilities, the challenge is in getting people to use them.

"It is about creating a real sporting culture where people are sports fanatics and would rather watch sports instead of the movies," said the Nominated Member of Parliament-designate.

Bringing in more sports events with high entertainment value would help, he suggested.

Netball Singapore executive director Cyrus Medora reiterated that the movement needs to start in schools. For starters, schools need to change the mindset of getting students to play sports "just for the sake of winning", he said.

Mr Medora also cited National Service as a possible hurdle to sportsmen. Still, referring to national footballer Hariss Harun, Mr Medora pointed out that it is not impossible to balance NS obligations and sporting pursuits. To that end, Mr Chan - a former Chief of Army - revealed at the press conference that "very positive" discussions are taking place with the Ministry of Defence to help male national athletes better juggle their various commitments.

For the average Singaporean, a lack of time for sporting pursuits is a common refrain.

Public relations practitioner Shirley Wong, 32, told Today: "It'd be helpful if the company creates time for its staff to indulge in sports - for example, have an activity day where employees go off on time or take two hours off to exercise together."

But Courts Singapore chief executive Terry O'Connor reiterated the challenges that companies face in this regard. "We have operational realities, for instance. Having said that, we are seeing how we can bring this into our staff engagement activities," he said.

The recommendations will undergo another round of public consultation over the next few months. From May, implementation of the final recommendations will begin.

Some key recommendations

To create more opportunities

- A multi-agency committee to ensure alignment of sports pathways from primary school level to the tertiary and post-National Service period

- Super Sports Clubs for all to train and compete in a range of sports. Pilot to be implemented towards year-end

- Competitive corporate sports league supported and/or organised by companies

- Fitness ecosystem for seniors, which includes setting national standards for sports participation and sports safety

To improve access

- Sports Facilities Master Plan for more creative and innovative way of maximising space for sports

- SportCares Foundation and Movement which would use sports to improve well-being of vulnerable segments of society

- One-stop platform with information on availability of sports facilities, activities and events

To deepen expertise

- Work with Ministry of Education to develop a more integrated academic and sporting curriculum for student athletes

- Sports Academy which will tie up with universities to offer diploma, graduate and post-graduate courses

- Coaching Academy to lead professional development of coaches

These folks have got game
by Low Lin Fhoong, TODAY 17 Feb 2012

Every morning, 86-year-old retiree Tan Kok Sing joins buddies Teo Kee Huat, 68, and Thng Wan Kow, 70, for a cup of coffee, before hitting the basketball court at Block 95, Henderson Road, for a game.

The video of the group of seniors dribbling, shooting and high-fiving has already garnered more than 6,000 views on YouTube since it was posted on the website on Monday. The video is produced by the Singapore Sports Council for Vision 2030 - a blueprint to map the long-term sporting landscape of Singapore.

Speaking to Today in a phone interview, Tan said he had not expected such a positive response to the video. "I'm quite surprised to hear about this ... I have been playing basketball with about 10 of my friends for about 20 years," said Tan, who suffered a stroke four years ago.

Besides boasting a mean jump shot, the grandfather of four also spends Sunday mornings jogging over 10km with a group of 50 runners. "My fitness was not so good when I was younger and I started exercising when I had rheumatism at the age of 35," he said.

"After exercising, it went away after a while. I want to encourage people to exercise like me and stay healthy." 

A multi-agency body for sports in schools
by Amir Hussain, TODAY, 14 Feb 2012

A national multi-agency body to align sports pathways in schools from primary to tertiary level, more curriculum time for Physical Education (PE) and greater parental involvement is on the cards, as part of the recommendations of Vision 2030.

A key recommendation, which has been welcomed by the Ministry of Education (MOE), is the setting up of a committee to "better coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders to strengthen and align sports pathways".

The proposed committee will comprise members from the MOE, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, the Singapore Armed Forces, the People's Association, the National Trades Union Congress, tertiary institutions, the Singapore Sports School and the Singapore Sports Council.

With an initial focus on youth sports development, the proposed committee will coordinate measures to "encourage sports participation, capability development of sports professionals, integrated programme delivery, competition frameworks and facilities development".

It will also work to increase parental involvement in the school sports scene by, for instance, creating opportunities for families to participate together in programmes and events organised by the proposed Super Sports Clubs.

In schools, time devoted to PE will also be further increased, as part of the MOE's long-term plan. Through its PE and sports programme, the MOE will "systematically develop the values of sportsmanship and teamwork in students".

By the end of secondary school, every child should have learnt to play at least three core sports at the recreational level and have opportunities to continue participating in sports within the community.

The MOE began increasing the curriculum time for PE in 2010. At Teck Whye Secondary School, its students undergo an average of 75 minutes of PE lessons per week, compared with 60 minutes previously.

Teck Whye principal Zach Ong noted that striking a balance between PE, co-curricular activities and academic lessons is challenging for schools as well as students.

Welcoming the proposal to further increase the duration of PE lessons, Mr Ong noted the need for indoor sports facilities. Currently, the school's PE lessons are conducted before 10.30am when the weather is conducive for outdoor activities.

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