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Balancing NS responsibilities and ambition

06 August 2018

Question 

Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) what is the Ministry's policy on assisting young Singaporeans who seek national service (NS) deferment to pursue their sporting ambition; and (b) whether there is an approved list of sports or recognised international sporting bodies where young men can qualify for NS deferment if they are accepted for training.

Mr Kwek Hian Chuan Henry: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth what are the programmes to nurture talented young sportsmen especially for the team sports, given that their training can be interrupted by national service.

 

Response

MCCY recognises the power of sport in inspiring the nation and engendering a sense of national pride. Through Sport Singapore (SportSG) and its partners including Singapore National Olympic Council, the National Sports Associations (NSAs), the Singapore Sports School, and the National Youth Sports Institute, the High Performance Sports (HPS) system has been established to support our athletes to reach their fullest sporting potential. The System involves identifying, developing and benchmarking the progress of sporting talents across key sports, covering the provision of training facilities, coaching support, sports science and sports medicine expertise, as well as overseas training and competition opportunities. In other words, we support the sports and the athletes comprehensively by working with the NSAs to develop their Multi-Year Sports Plans.

2. As young male athletes progress in their development over the years, the timing of National Service will be a factor for consideration. Our considerations are:

a. How will the 2-year commitment affect the athlete?

b. What is the potential and motivation of the athlete?

c. What is the training and development plan for the athlete?

d. How is the athlete being developed to progressively achieve personal bests and breakthrough performances? 

3. The athlete is seen as one of a bigger team for sports. Not just by himself, but also what he can do to contribute to the sport and also for the development of the sport on the whole.

4. As part of the long term plan under HPS, we work closely with MINDEF, MHA, and the NSAs to enable our male Team Singapore (TS) athletes to pursue their sports development and fulfil their NS obligations. The Minister for Defence has in his earlier reply to PQs, explained how MINDEF has accommodated the training requirements of enlisted TS athletes, and allowed these athletes to take up additional training opportunities in the lead-up to the Major Games – within the duration of their NS.For instance, enlisted members of the national football and water polo teams have in the past been given permission to train with their team mates in preparation for the Southeast Asian Games and other major international competitions. In this regard, NS deferment is not the only avenue for supporting the development of our young male athletes.

5. MCCY is prepared to support NS deferment applications by sporting talents, who have consistently demonstrated the potential to succeed at the highest levels of competition, serve Singapore’s interests, and have provided a definitive commitment to return to serve NS.These include swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, who have been granted deferment to train full-time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In case of Joseph, his original NS deferment was from 2013 to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.Following his Gold-medal achievement in Rio, thus meeting the agreed milestone target that we have with him and the NSA, MINDEF extended his deferment to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on the recommendation of MCCY.

6. My Ministry shares Singaporeans’ aspirations for excellence in sports, and does not favour individual sports over team sports.Across all sports, we objectively assess the NSAs’ development plans and targets, as well as the performance and potential of the athletes.For team sports, we have to adopt a whole-team development strategy which covers the entire squad of athletes, beyond just an individual athlete.We have several considerations when we assess our support for NS-liable athletes involved in team sports. For example, we look at the robustness of the NSA’s development plans for the team, whether there is a clear target of a Major Games competition in sight and the plans to achieve this, as well as the individual athlete’s role and potential contribution to the national team.If there are sporting talents who are part of this squad, and who demonstrate commitment to represent Singapore and serve NS, MCCY is prepared to work with MINDEF to evaluate NS deferment applications, or training privileges during NS so that the enlisted athletes can train together with the rest of the squad.


Last Updated: 06 August 2018

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