28 December 2007

Singapore talent ID and development programme

4 new sports academies to identify, develop talents from primary school@CNA

SINGAPORE : In a boost for sports in Singapore, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it will start identifying and developing talented athletes at an early stage - at primary 5 and 6 levels.

Those selected will then be trained in four new Junior Sports Academies which will be set up by next year.

The MOE said the move is essential for long-term success. However, it acknowledged that such talent-spotting should not be limiting, especially when young ones are concerned.

The Minister of State for Education, Lui Tuck Yew, said: "We will identify two groups of athletes, with the first group comprising athletes who are already excelling in their respective sports and the second group are those who may not necessarily play the sport, but are deemed to have the potential to do well in it.

"A multi-pronged approach based on competition results, scouting, nomination by schools and NAPFA Test results will be used to identify the athletes for the selection trials."

These students will then be trained at four centralised Junior Sports Academies, housed in selected schools islandwide.

For a start, there will be four such academies per zone - the academies for netball, swimming, table-tennis, track & field at the Singapore Sports School in the north, a table-tennis academy at the Singapore Table-Tennis Association in the south, a wushu academy at Chung Cheng High Main in the eastern part of Singapore and a badminton academy at Henry Park Primary School in the west.

280 students will attend these academies next year. Of these, the first selection for the wushu and badminton academies has already been made.

"They will have the privilege of receiving expertise from professional coaches... Primary school students from various parts of Singapore will be able to receive quality training," said Ng Teng Joo, principal of Henry Park Primary School.

There will be two to four training sessions each week at the Junior Sports Academies outside of school hours, depending on the sport chosen. Each training session will last about two hours.

To prevent any sort of conflict, a sports manager will be appointed to ensure that there's a fine balance between the sporting and academic development of these selected students.

This pilot scheme comes under a new Talent Development Framework. If the pilot scheme works, more academies catering to more sports could eventually be set up.

The MOE said it is looking at as many as 16 academies for an estimated 1,000 athletes in primary 5 and 6.

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