Student-athletes get a leg up
The new National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) will be a bridge between the Singapore Sports School and the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI), which serves the nation's elite athletes.
The NYSI, which starts operations next year, will be headed by former national sailor Tan Wearn Haw, with its staff strength growing up to 50 in four main areas - youth coaching, athlete life management and counsellors, talent identification and sports science personnel - in two or three years.
Half of the staff will come from the Sports School, where the institute will be based.
Students and coaches from mainstream schools will be able to tap on the knowledge base, sports science and medicine services and athlete life management services at the NYSI.
The institute will also oversee the enhancement of the Sports School's sports development programmes.
The NYSI will serve primarily as a resource centre for student-athletes and coaches in its initial phase.
The knowledge comes mainly from the Sports School, which has had a decade working specifically with developing youth athletes.
Said Tan: "We are going out to the eco-system to see where we can help... pushing out knowledge to the schools, clubs and national sports associations."
The new institute will work with the SSI to develop a carding system by 2017. It will be akin to the carding system being used by the SSI today.
Under the SSI's carding system, athletes are grouped under different levels of athletic ability - world-class, continental, regional and national - which gives them access to different levels of government support.
The NYSI will introduce a National Age-Groups programme for certain sports, where student-athletes will have access to sports science and medicine, and athlete life management and counselling services.
These student-athletes will also have seasonal centralised training.
"Our school sports scene can be quite truncated and we see a huge opportunity to help student-athletes have a consistent, year-long training and development programme," said Tan.
The institute will work with organisations such as the Ministry of Education's (MOE) Junior Sports Academies, the Sports School's Learn to Play programmes and ActiveSG to provide more avenues for young children to remain in sport.
The NYSI will also develop a system that supports and tracks athletes' progress.
Said Tan: "Instead of saying that you're not so good at one sport, we want to let them try a variety of activities and then let them discover that they could possibly be quite good at another, and help them plan a pathway.
"The fundamental thing is to get more kids involved; the more we have, the more obvious it would be later on when the talent emerges by itself."
The NYSI will work with existing organisations, including the MOE, to develop coaching curriculum and certification for trainers who work specifically with youths.
Tan said: "It's for us to work with these organisations to integrate, and come up with a consistent national narrative so that people progressing through the system will have a cohesive development in their most difficult years."
This article was first published on November 17, 2015.
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