Honouring contributions to disability sports and building an inclusive society through sports
Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law at the 2020 Singapore Disability Sports Awards
07 August 2020
Hi, good evening everyone.
Mr Kevin Wong, President of Singapore Disability Sports Council. Thank you very much for your speech and for your kind words, and words of welcome. I thank you in turn for your leadership of SDSC and I look forward to working with you too.
Ms Jasmin Hong, General Manager of Marketing of Haw Par Healthcare. Thank you very much for your contributions, for your support for the sport and we look forward too, to working with you in the years to come.
SDSC Executive Committee Members,
The athletes, the coaches, officials, volunteers,
Families, friends and the media,
All of you are a big ecosystem and a big part of the family.
- Good evening to all of you and thank you for inviting me here and having me join you in the 2020 SDSA. Tonight, we will be honouring the accomplishments of our athletes and recognising the contributions you have made to disability sports in Singapore.
Honouring athletes for their hard work despite COVID-19 disruptions
- COVID has meant that we cannot do this in the same kind of way. We can’t meet in person as Kevin has said but we can remember that this does not diminish the significance of tonight’s event.
- Let me begin by giving my heartiest congratulations to the nominees of the Sportsperson categories.
- As you heard from Kevin, the theme this year is “Defy Limits”, and this truly encapsulates where you are in your life’s journey today. With your courage, your resolve, your dedication, you’ve overcome personal challenges and pushed yourself hard, and in some cases, go well beyond limits. You are all an inspiration to us.
- Take for example Sportsboy nominee, Lim Kah Yi. Kah Yi is the first athlete with Autism to represent Singapore at the Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport Games last year. Kah Yi did Singapore very proud by becoming the sole Singapore medallist, bagging four silver medals in four swimming events. Congratulations, Kah Yi.
- As I mentioned earlier, these are challenging times with the pandemic around us. And I know this has made training, it has made competition, much harder. But nonetheless, I would like to commend our athletes for their unwavering commitment to their sport. The 2020 ASEAN Para Games has been cancelled and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics has been postponed. I’m sure that has led to disappointment. But our athletes have continued to adapt, continued to train, keep themselves motivated, despite these extraordinary circumstances. To our athletes, we hope that you remain motivated, remain encouraged. And as you resume training and gear up towards the next competition, you can be sure that we are behind you and will cheer you on as One Team Singapore.
Recognising the team behind the team
- As we celebrate our athletes today, we must also acknowledge the people around them who support them – our coaches, our officials, volunteers, sponsors, caregivers, family and friends – you have all worked very hard to journey together with the athletes, to build the disability sport ecosystem. You know what they say about education – it takes a village to raise a child. I think we have that village around us as well today.
- I’d like to mention Mr Arthur Lee Yan Hong. Mr Lee has been volunteering with the SDSC since 1995 as a Swimming Technical Officer and throughout his years of volunteering, Mr Lee has built up extensive experience in para swimming. And it is borne out of a genuine desire to see Singapore sports succeed. Last year, he was appointed as the Asia Representative of the Virtus Sport Swimming Committee. He has done himself and also Singapore very proud. And we value the long-term commitment of Mr Lee and many other volunteers, and appreciate their contributions to disability sport.
- At the same time, I’d also like to thank Haw Par Corporation as well. Their commitment to the continued development of disability sport in Singapore is much valued and much appreciated. From cheering our athletes at events to preparing special hand-written notes to recipients of the Haw Par Para Sports Bursary Awards – these are all little steps, little measures which go a long way. Haw Par is a model for how corporations can really come forward, work with us in the ecosystem and really support worthy social causes.
Importance of making sports more inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities
- In 2016, MCCY and SportSG launched the Disability Sports Master Plan. The Plan will increase access and opportunities for sport participation amongst people with disabilities, build awareness on disability sports, and also raise awareness and strengthen Singaporeans’ affinity with Team Singapore para athletes.
- One major effort has been making our gyms inclusive, where we aim to have all ActiveSG gyms cater to people of all ages and abilities by 2026.
- COVID-19 has been tough for all of us, in different ways. But at the same time, it has also presented us with opportunities to do something different, to do something innovative. And in the context of disability sports, develop creative ways for persons with disabilities to engage with sports at home. Inclusive sports and fitness videos are now accessible on SportSG’s online channel, SportCares TV. SDSC has also uploaded some athlete-led exercise videos online. These efforts allow us to reach out to more people to encourage them to get active.
- We are grateful to have a strong partner in SDSC to complement our efforts in championing disability sports and providing more opportunities for sport participation.
- Together with SDSC, SportSG and other partners, let’s press on, expand the space for disability sports so that more can participate. Let’s continue to help everyone realise their potential and nurture the champion within each one of us. And together, build an inclusive society so that more of us can play and enjoy sports together.
- Once again, let me end by saying a warm congratulations to all the award nominees.
- And of course, this weekend marks Singapore’s 55th national day, and I’d like to end my speech with a verse from the song this year, Everything I am. I’m not going to sing, don’t worry, I can’t. The verse goes like this “And in each other, there will be, the colours of your tapestry, colours you’ve never seen”.
- It’s a meaningful phrase because it means that in every one of us, we find a difference. We are different and special in our own ways; and within that difference, in our diversity, we will find strength and beauty. And I think that is the hallmark of Singapore and being Singaporean.
- Thank you very much, all of you. Congratulations once again and I wish all of you a very Happy National Day. Thank you.