Besides gold, athletes urged to think 'green'

(From left) SEC chairman Isabella Loh, Jose Raymond, Chris Chan, and Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin at the signing ceremony on Monday.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's South-east Asia (SEA) Games-bound athletes this December may be wearing red and white, but, hopefully, they will be thinking green as well.

The athletes travelling to Myanmar for the biennial Games, which will be held in Naypyidaw from Dec 11 to 22, will each receive an "Eco Kit", containing reusable items such as towels and cutlery as part of a new "Green Champions" programme.

This comes after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) yesterday at the Youth Olympic Games Gallery @ Singapore Sports Museum.

The agreement aims to leverage on the popularity of sports to promote environmental awareness and sustainable development in the sports industry.

Six names, both current and retired athletes, will serve as voluntary role models of the programme and will spread the message to the public and the sports fraternity.

They are former sprinters U K Shyam and C Kunalan, current sprinter Amirudin Jamal, Isabelle Li (table tennis), Delvin Goh (basketball) and Aleksandar Duric (football).

SEC executive director Jose Raymond said: "When we decided on the first batch of athletes we looked at whether they are icons, whether people would know them and whether they would be able to spread the message.

"They too must have some affinity with the environment, or at least understand the concept behind it."

SNOC secretary general Chris Chan said: "The International Olympic Committee regards the environment as one of the fundamental objectives of the Olympic Movement, and is the third dimension of Olympism, alongside sport and culture."

Former Singapore star striker Aleksandar Duric, still going toe-to-toe with defenders in the S-League with local giants Tampines Rovers at the age of 42, said: "Caring for the environment now is very important to the future of this planet we live in... and we have to start from somewhere to educate people."

The ambassadors will feature in advertisements and social media campaigns, and Raymond said the SEC hoped to bring on more athlete-ambassadors in the future.