30 November 2010

Singapore Sports School to groom younger talents aged 10-12

Badminton boost@straits times

THE Singapore Sports School (SSP) has launched a new programme that will help it identify and pick up budding badminton talents aged 10 to 12.

By partnering with sports manufacturer Yonex, the school hopes to improve the calibre of athletes entering its badminton academy, which currently has 37 students.

The Yonex-Singapore Sports School Junior Excellence Programme, launched yesterday, will identify and groom talents aged 10 to 12. The Sports School typically takes in students only at 13, when they are in Secondary 1.

Said eight-time All-England champion Rudy Hartono, who conducted a coaching clinic at SSP yesterday: 'This programme is good because it starts players from a young age.

'When you are above 12 years, that's a bit late. It's the right time to do this at a young age. To find talented players who can reach world standards is not easy, but you have to start.

'Maybe in a few years, Singapore can get players who have the potential to reach world-class standards.'

The Indonesian former world champion, 61, has signed on as an advisory staff member for the programme, which will see Yonex provide over $600,000 in cash and kind to fund coaches and overseas training camps till 2014.

Former national shuttler Ronald Susilo has been engaged as the programme's head coach, and selection trials will be held next month.

The scheme will take in up to 42 shuttlers each year, and about 10 will be drafted into SSP annually.

Said SSP director of sports Irwin Seet: 'Sometimes, we notice students don't have all the requisite skills needed when they enter our school.

'By starting them young, this joint collaboration will help us produce better quality juniors who, when they enter the Sports School, have a better chance to succeed on the international front.'

The SSP's badminton academy received another boost yesterday when the school signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) for its Partners in Badminton Excellence (PEX) Scheme.

This will allow the academy to tap on the SBA's resources - the association will provide coaching clinics, greater competition exposure for players and assist in talent identification.

On its part, SSP will identify up to two talented shuttlers and offer academic scholarships to them.

Said SBA president Lee Yi Shyan, who is also Minister of State (Trade and Industry, and Manpower): 'The MOU reflects our mutual desire to coordinate and synergise our efforts to raise the standard of badminton training and development for youths.

'It outlines how we intend to share our best practices and limited resources to maximise development opportunities for coaches and players.

'By working together, we hope to raise the level of excellence of the sport to the highest level attainable.'

This PEX scheme is the same agreement that SBA signed with six mainstream schools earlier this year. It seeks to expand the association's base of young talents and form a pipeline to the national badminton teams.

It is understood that SSP had signed a collaborative agreement with SBA in November 2007 that was renewed annually. With the agreement due to expire, both parties agreed to collaborate under the PEX Scheme instead.

There are currently 15 SSP alumni in the national team two, which is one tier below the national squad. However, selection for the national team will continue to be based on merit and is not affected by this strategic partnership.

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