SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party members of parliament Assoc Prof Jamus Lim from Sengkang GRC and Faisal Manap from Aljunied GRC have filed a motion that calls for the House to acknowledge the outstanding performances of Team Singapore’s athletes and para-athletes at the recent SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games in Cambodia.

The motion also seeks the government to evaluate and improve the nation’s sporting ecosystem so that achievable goals can be set for the coming years.

At the 32nd SEA Games, Team Singapore athletes had an impressive showing, bringing home 51 gold, 43 silver, and 64 bronze medals. They also achieved remarkable feats by setting eight new Games records, 17 national records, and attaining 40 personal best performances in Cambodia.

The swimming contingent’s impressive performance was particularly noteworthy, as they showcased their dominance in the pool and contributed a significant portion of the medal haul with 47 medals – 22 gold, 15 silver, and 10 bronze.

The men’s water polo team also managed to reclaim their crown after their incredible 27 consecutive gold medal streak was broken in the 2019 SEA Games.

“There have been some standout performances from Team Singapore at the Cambodia 2023 SEA Games which are positive indicators of our athletes’ progress and preparation for the upcoming Asian Games and Olympic Games. There were some misses too, and we urge sports which did not meet their targets and expectations to review their performance and double their efforts in the development of their sport. It took us 64 years to win 1,000 gold medals and we hope this milestone will spur future generations of Singapore athletes to continue the winning streak and do better to achieve sporting glory for the nation,” said Chris Chan, secretary-general of Singapore National Olympic Council.

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Photo credit: Eng Chin An (Singapore National Olympic Council)

The men’s football team failed to perform in Cambodia, finishing bottom in Group B. The under-22 squad were held to a goalless draw by Laos and lost to Thailand (1-3) and Vietnam (1-3), and were mauled 7-0 by Malaysia in their final group matches, which drew widespread criticism from the local football fans.

The men’s football team had a disappointing outing in Cambodia, finishing at the bottom of Group B. The under-22 squad played a goalless draw against Laos, suffered losses against Thailand (1-3) and Vietnam (1-3), and were mauled 7-0 by Malaysia in their final group match. This poor performance drew widespread criticism from the local football fans.

WP also shared a video of MP Faisal’s speech from the 2023 Budget Committee of Supply (COS) debate on March 7. The caption read, “Do you remember the Kallang wave? How can we revive that enthusiasm?”

During the COS debate by the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth, Faisal proposed that the Football Association of Singapore should engage in a national conversation with local footballers and coaches. This suggestion arises from the national football team’s underwhelming performance, which was apparent even before the SEA Games.

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“The Unleash The Roar project meant to rejuvenate Singapore football was announced. Since that time, however, the performance of our men’s national football team has been inconsistent. A former national player called for greater involvement of former players in developing the programmes for our local football scene. He also called for, amongst other things, a dialogue session among all stakeholders, setting achievable milestones for our youth teams and creating an environment for local coaches so that they can focus on coaching and not need to moonlight,” said Faisal.

“These are all sensible recommendations. While I understand the reasons behind recruiting foreign bond players to play for Singapore in the longer term, we need to focus on developing our local players, coaches and clubs. Local players who have dedicated their time playing for Singapore could be employed in various roles where their experience could be relevant towards improving our system,” added the Aljunied GRC member of parliament.

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Photo credit: Singapore Aquatics

To develop sporting talent, the National Sports Association (NSA) must provide sufficient training, coaching, and infrastructure. This also entails financial support from the relevant authorities, as it plays a crucial role in ensuring athletes have the necessary resources and facilities to excel in their respective sports. However, allocating these resources is not an easy task, as stated by Mark Chay, a nominated member of parliament.

“We have over 60 sports and each sport is in different levels of maturity. Even talking from an aquatic perspective, I can’t speak for other people, we have five disciplines. Each has their different levels of maturity. For example, our diving and artistic swimming programs are very new,” shared Chay with The Independent Singapore.

“When we talk about swimming and water polo, we established a track record of producing Olympians. Even water polo, as early as 1956 we sent a team to the Olympic Games. Very few NSAs can say that. But looking at the finite resources that we have and how we allocate, I think we can do a study and see if we are effectively allocating resources efficiently,” added Chay who will be ending his parliamentary term in July.