Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Foreign Sport Talent (PST) scheme

Singapore Table Tennis Team has finally lifted Singapore's medal curse in the 2008 Olympics. Many Singaporeans have cheered and praised the table tennis team for its success in the Olympics and more importantly, attained a medal since 1960. However, there is also a group of citizens who questions the route to our Silver medal. Not that it is won through underhand means but rather the players where they are born and trained in (apart from Li Jia Wei who came to Singapore at a young age).

Feng Tian Wei, the heroine of the team, was granted citizenship barely two years after she came to Singapore. The purpose? Undoubtedly, the purpose was to ensure she could represent Singapore in the 2008 Olympics and she did with glory. Wang Yue Gu's case was more or less the same but she came for a longer time before she became a Singapore Citizen.

I believe there would be debate on the internet, be it locally or overseas, highlighting that our table tennis is made up of only foreign talent. It is disappointing to see that none of our local players manage to represent Singapore in the prestigious Olympic Games. Perhaps FST is the devil in this situation (The root of the problem could be commercialization & funding). Why? Every single foreign talent brought in could be tantamount to the removal of a local talent from the team. From a long term perspective, STTA would have to continue its tradition/culture of bringing more foreign talent to replace Feng Tian Wei in the near future in order to continue its results in the table tennis world. Who knows? Hopefully we would see a local paddler in 2012.

Frankly, I am a supporter as well as an enemy of Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FST).

I agree that with globalisation, talents are everywhere and we need to tap on these sports talents to deliver results for us (due to our limited pool of talents). Furthermore, these sports talents would certainly raise the standards which we are currently at or maybe to increase the awareness/popularity of the respective sports.

Unfortunately, there are situations where associations rely heavily on FST and in the process, consciously ending the dreams of local talent. Worse, when the purpose of FST, which is supposedly to deliver results or/and enhance the standard of the sports failed to achieve these objectives. Basically, the usage of FST should be capped at a quota. Sports associations should know the limit and stop once the threshold has reached (SSC should monitor the requirement and allocation of FST for individual associations).

Unfortunately, the usage of FST creates imbalances and inequality in the sports scene. For instance, in the table tennis world, there are many Chinese players representing countries such as Singapore, Croatia and etc. These countries manage to buy, 'nurture' and most importantly naturalize these foreign talents into its citizens. Isn't the act of buying talent unfair to countries which couldnt attract and afford foreign talent quality training and high salary? Does winning international medals in this way honourable?

At the same time, we shouldn't write off with FST. Li Jia Wei, Tao Li, Ronald Susilo, Zhang Guirong and Daniel Bennett have shown us how we have benefited in the sports arena from FST. Nonetheless, we have to recognize that FST is a short term antidote for lack of talents in SG. Ultimately, we would have to learn from our counterparts e.g. Jamaica, Denmark and etc to actively search, develop and nurture talents from our own pool of resources. Of course, we cant win medals in every single sports but there are some sports which Singaporeans are more 'talented' in (due to our environment and biological reasons). If we really have to adopt the FST scheme, we should carefully weigh the potential gains from the investment in FST against the possible downsides of FST scheme just like what scholarship board does (and I hope SG Govt and SSC have been doing that).

No comments:

Post a Comment