SINGAPORE - Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing has raised concerns over the fitness of national service pre-enlistees ("Earlier Napfa test for pre-enlistees from poly, ITE?"; last Tuesday).
And earlier this year, the Education Ministry announced that it will be rolling out a new physical education syllabus from next year ("New PE syllabus to promote sports for all"; Aug 1).
These are laudable developments to improve the fitness of young men through physical activities and sports. These measures can have long-term health benefits by reducing lifestyle diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity. To make sports a way of life, we need to nurture the habit in children at an early age, while they are still in school.
We could expose them to the joy of sports by adopting a "sports for enjoyment" philosophy.
Competitiveness is too ingrained in the school system and can kill a child's interest, as he would have little opportunity to play a sport for fun if he does not make the grade to join the school team.
One way to encourage sports for everyone is to open up the numerous school facilities to students and their families on weekends.
This model has many collateral benefits. It encourages family bonding, and inculcates a love for sports among those who are unable to make it to the competitive level.
There may be concerns about security, damage to facilities and vandalism, but these can be managed with surveillance technology and the development of civic-mindedness to respect and take care of common property.
Yap Chin Kong (Dr)
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