Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education
Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
Professor Arnoud De Meyer, President, Singapore Management University
Mr Richard Seow, Chairman, Singapore Sports Council
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am really delighted and encouraged by the turn-out today, and as I was preparing my notes for what I would like to say today, I was reminded by my staff to keep it short because we are preaching to the converted. And indeed it is very encouraging for all of us at SSC to see so many of you here interested in the subject at hand, which is, how we would use sport to develop future leaders of Singapore.
2. I want to thank SMU for hosting this Symposium and thank you also for the work that you are doing under the MOU.
3. Under the banner of Vision 2030, SSC is keen to partner our educational institutions to deliver the value of sport, to develop future leaders.
4. "Future Ready" - I think that is a very tall order. No one can predict the future but what we do know is that the generation that will lead Singapore through it, will need to anchor in their sense of common identity, purpose and vision. But how do we know that? Well, that has always been so in the journeys in peoples and nations, those that continue to succeed find ways to come together to bind, to pull with skill and determination.
5. And so, Vision 2030 posits that its educators and coaches, we can use the power of sport to design programmes to develop the behaviours and skills to nurture our people and future leaders.
6. What is it that makes sport so powerful? I believe that it is in the way that sport mirrors the characteristics of life. It's in the game; it's in the competition, in how it engages us intellectually, affectively, physically and even instinctively. It gives us a lifelong learning platform for rehearsing our reactions and responses to work and to life. At the heart of the matter, it nurtures a winning spirit, where defeat is but a stepping stone and victory is a celebration of the challenges that we surmount everyday with our teammates.
SportCares' Saturday Night Lights
7. This is a compressed photograph of 90 youth, coming out of free community initiatives, all coming from very challenging backgrounds. For the last nine weeks, every Saturday night, they have been gathering at Jurong stadium, under the watchful leadership of volunteered coaches and mentors who bring them through a rigorous game of football to teach them what it means to be disciplined, to exercise self-control, to have a vision of how they could live better and to build their determination to reach out toward that vision.
8. Nothing in their family backgrounds gave them hope that they can achieve. But it is in the sports field that they have discovered themselves, that they have been mentored. And anecdotal stories that have come out of the programme, some simple ones: number one, they have all started to attend school regularly. Some tell us stories about how they have found a way to better control their temper. Some of them speak of aspirations that they have not previously dared to believe in.
9. I use this example to demonstrate the power of sport in a very simple way. No fancy frameworks but care of leaders on the ground, mentors on the ground, who know how to use sport to deliver value in people's lives.
'Game For Life' Toolkit
10. To enable us to multiply such efforts effectively across all other sports for development programmes, SSC is pleased today to launch the 'Game For Life' Toolkit. The Toolkit comprises the 'character and leadership through sports' Framework and a book that tells the stories of 25 individuals and their journey through sport and life. The Framework guides you through the design of sports programmes to create those teachable moments and the book of stories are to inspire, motivate and give us pause to reflect on how to live better.
11. At this point, I would like to thank and give tribute to the 25 contributors to the 'Game For Life' book for giving their time and their willingness to share in the hope that others may benefit from the experience. Some of them are here with us today and I hope that you will be able to meet them in person later on.
12. In closing, let me lift a few lines from Deputy Prime Minister Tharman's account in the book, where he says, "Sports are a huge deal for character. Children learn the value of teams. They learn the discipline of repeated practice, and how there is no other way to develop expertise. Plus the ability to fail or lose in competition and pick oneself up, and to win with humility."
13. I wish you a fantastic learning journey in the next two days and I thank you for your presence here with us.
Thank you very much.