Mr Ong Kim Soon, Deputy Director, Co-Curricular Activities Branch
Mr Lim Lai Chuan, Chairman, Singapore Schools Sports Council
Principals, Vice-Principals, Teachers and Parents,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,
1 I want to say thank you to the Singapore Schools Sports Council for inviting me to be with you here today at the 41st National School Colours Awards Presentation and the closing ceremony for the National School Games.
2 I am always happy to celebrate sporting achievements by Singapore's young athletes. So, let me extend my congratulations to the 603 student recipients of the SSSC National Colours Awards as well as the 1400 students who are recipients of the Zone Colours Awards.
3 I also want to congratulate the 207 student athletes who won a record 26 gold, 22 silver and 31 bronze medals at the 3rd ASEAN Schools Games, held in Singapore in July this year. As an annual event, the Games are an opportunity for youth sportsmen and women in the region to compete against the best of their peers in addition to promoting ASEAN solidarity and greater cultural awareness.
4 As CEO of Singapore Sports Council, I do find it important to use different opportunities such as today to talk about the value of sport and how it can be used to develop individuals and teams and to strengthen our community and nation. This meaning is sometimes lost in the midst of the glitz and glamour of major events and activities like the Singapore F1 GP or various sporting world championships.
5 So, I do meet with government agencies and corporate Singapore every week, but I think speaking to the sporting youth of Singapore is more important to me - because you represent our shared future.
6 You can be a challenging audience. You are still defining who you want to be. So it sometimes can be hard for the old generation, for people like me, to know what is really important to you.
7 Typically, you are always multi-tasking - surfing, talking, watching, texting. And that can make it hard - again for old boys like me - to catch your attention and appeal to your imagination.
8 However at least I know that as an audience of sport award recipients, sport matters to you. And I want to spend sometime today to share why that is so important for yourself, your school, the community and ultimately the nation.
9 So, if any of you are texting right now, text this: the CEO of SSC says that the young athletes of Singapore represent our best hopes for the future - not simply in sports but in the development of our nation.
10 Sport is an amazing platform for development because it is both art and science. It is art because it engages the human spirit, it develops the will to compete and to win, and when properly guided it builds a strong sense of what it means to compete fairly and to win with honor. Sport can teach us what it means to lead. Sometimes we lead a team and sometimes we learn to follow and play our role, even if it means making a sacrifice for the greater good of our team or school. Teamwork is often cited as something that we should all understand and learn. What does that entail? Well among other things, it involves developing skills to build shared aspiration and vision, clarifying roles within a team, strategizing and learning after a run of play to adjust your strategy. Can you see how sport can be such a powerful platform for developing team skills?
11 Sport is science because we now know much more about how to systematically improve sporting performance, but it requires discipline, perseverance and all the best qualities of human endeavor to actually deliver. Art and science, that is very much what life is about.
12 This year, I am delighted to see the introduction of Good Sportsmanship Awards in basketball, rugby, sepak takraw and hockey at both the Zonal and National level. A total of 240 Good Sportsmanship Awards have already been presented.
13 One of the recipients is Ahmad Jaouhar Farhad B S a Secondary One C Division rugby player from Peirce Secondary School. In a match against Jurong Secondary School, Ahmad?s team struggled against stronger opponents.
14 And yet, Ahmad consistently helped the opposing players back on their feet whenever there was a breakdown in rucks and mauls. He exemplified the core values of excellence, friendship and respect.
15 On a grander stage, the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, in the sport of Sailing: Singaporeans Joseph Chan and Siew Shaw Her are competing in the 470 event in conditions that are extraordinarily difficult sea conditions. The wind is escalating from 15 to 35 knots, and the water is churning. The boat capsizes and both men are struggling to hold on. Joseph is swept away while Shaw Her clings on. Canadian Lawrence Lemieux competing in the Finn category (a solo race) sees that the Singaporean pair is in trouble. Although Lemieux was heading towards a silver medal, he abandons his race to rescue our sailors and stays with them till the official safety boat arrives. He eventually finishes 22nd. When asked about this incident Lawrence Lemieux said, ?The first rule of sailing is, you see someone in trouble, you help him.?
16 Mr Heng Swee Keat, the Minister of Education, earlier this month described how educators and parents were asking for a greater emphasis to be placed on building the character and values of our children. I applaud this, and I know that what Ahmad did on the rugby field will one day make a difference on a more important stage.
17 Sport is the answer. The values and life skills learned in sport can take you through higher levels of competitive sport, through national service (for the boys in the audience), through your business career and even through your personal relationships. Collectively, it will make a difference to your team, your community and to Singapore.
18 You will learn these lessons and values from each other and from your coaches and physical education teachers. I am confident that they will be able to help you make the connection between your sporting pursuits and your growth as a leader and team player. Team SSC is here to support and encourage you.
19 We are working on a project called Vision 2030, which takes an in-depth look by people from all walks of life at how sport can best serve Singapore over the next 20 years given the challenges that lie ahead. We are developing Vision 2030 as a strategy for building our nation. But it will have its greatest impact on you - the next generation of athletes who will be maturing as Vision 2030 is put into action and as you become a force for our nation.
20 Thus, I encourage everyone here to share their views and sporting experiences - good or bad - through our website www.vision2030.sg.Your opinion matters so, please, join the conversation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
21 Congratulations to all of the athletes here today. We recognise your efforts, celebrate your accomplishment and encourage you to excel for the greater good. Win with grace, lose with spirit - and always, play with passion.
22 Thank you.