By Lin Xinyi
STUDENT athletes can expect an action-packed schools sports season like never before.
Traditionally, most schools competitions end in June or July.
But, with Singapore set to host the inaugural Asian Youth Games (AYG) in June, most fixtures for zonal and schools national competitions will be completed by the end of May.
The exceptions are hockey, rugby, basketball and football (C Division), as well as judo (A, B, and C divisions).
Presbyterian High School's Girls' B Division volleyball team captain Cassandra Tay, 16, said: 'There's non-stop action. It's training, competition, more training and more competitions.'
Cassandra and teammates were crowned North Zone champions yesterday after defeating Chung Cheng High (Yishun) 25-18, 25-22.
But there is hardly any time to celebrate.
They will hit the court again for training tomorrow as they begin the defence of their national title in five days' time.
The busy schools sports calendar has also seen the introduction of three more events - Girls' A Division water polo, and Girls' B and C Division football.
The best athletes from the various competitions will get the chance to represent the Singapore Schools' teams at the First Asean Schools Games in Thailand in July.
Goh Ek Piang, the deputy director of the Ministry Of Education's Co-Curricular Activities Branch, said the Republic will send over 200 athletes to compete in 10 sports.
'In the past, each member country would host one or two sports competitions,' said Goh. 'This year, there will be a multi-sports Games format similar to the South-east Asia Games, so there will be greater prominence.'
Athletes who impress on the schools stage could also don national colours at next year's Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
The recently formed Singapore Modern Pentathlon Association (Simpa) will be on the look-out for talent at various schools events such as swimming, running, fencing and shooting.
Modern pentathlon comprises five events - 200m freestyle swimming, 3km cross-country run, epee fencing, pistol shooting and showjumping.
However, the upcoming YOG will not have the equestrian event.
Simpa president Nicholas Fang said: 'The schools sports scene is going to be an important source of potential youth Olympians for Singapore.
'We will definitely be keeping a keen eye on how our young local athletes are performing.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times.