More support, less hate, for Singapore Sports

I was recently reminded of my tweet in response to the @hellofrmSG on 9th August (at the time, it was someone else, not whoever you see in the card above, it changes every week) after our table-tennis loss in the Olympics.

There’s an imgur entry making the rounds on Facebook that looks like a damning comparison of how Singapore treats home-grown sporting talents. I’m not going to show it, but you’ve probably already seen it.

I guess the imbalance which the original poster sought to point out was that the S$6.5m earmarked for the Olympic Pathway Programme (OPP), meant as preparation for the 2012 London Olympics, was spent on 11 athletes, of whom just four were born Singaporean.

However, I take issue with the No NS, No ICT claim, given that all the names in red are women (of course, so are Li Jia Wei, Jasmine Ser, and Shinta Mulia Sari). It’s a red (hur) herring because it is true by default for everyone, and both men should have finished their NS (ages 35, 45 respectively). I doubt Nigel Lim was given ICT exemption, either, so I don’t know what the claim is.

In any case, after the 2012 Olympics, the OPP was replaced by the High Performance Sports (HPS) program, which includes S$40m for the Sporting Excellence (SpEx) Scholarship, to be disbursed over five years. To this date, 72 athletes have been supported by the scheme. That’s not too bad. Even our first Olympic gold medallist, 2012’s Yip Pin Xiu, has benefited from this.

So I think while we could still do a lot more, and in some ways a lot less, we don’t need this sort of xenophobia-stoking faux-nationalistic post to provoke anger in a stressed populace.

Sure, it does feel somehow different to see a medal won by someone who was born here, but even if one of “those FTs” wins it, they chose to represent our nation in any case, so we should support them. (Yes, I questioned the naturalisation and selection of Aleksandar Đuric back then too, but after seeing his dedication and desire, who wouldn’t have had a change of heart?)

What we need is more support for those who want to fly the Singapore flag high, regardless of where they come from. This will hopefully motivate our own athletes to take up the challenge, and our administrators to support local sports.

Also, we as “regular Singaporeans” need to show more support for local sports at every level, such as our footballers in the S.League. I hope that one day we will only see such scenes when the stands are already filled to the brim.

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