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Entries for May 2008

The boys' and girls' teams of Hwa Chong Institution have claimed a memorable double title in the Converse National A Division Basketball Championship.

The ladies, in a final played right before the guys, dramatically stole a seemingly lost game against the reputable Raffles Junior College. They recovered a huge margin to win in the final minute, owing to some out-of-this-world performances by their captain and centre.

Anderson Junior College tried but could not wrestle the boys' crown away from the mighty opponents, who have three national youth players in their ranks. HCI took it with a 22-point victory.

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Posted in: Basketball, Scoops
Singaporeans Lim Shengyu and Calvin Chia, both of Hwa Chong Institution and the national youth team, were handpicked to attend this year's Adidas Nations Camp Asia. The training camp is currently ongoing and ends on 24 May. Their participation do not end there; this August they will both feature in a US-based Adidas Nations Camp where the best from all over the world will congregate and compete in a tournament.

We spoke to these two stars of the future when they flew back here midway through the camp.

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Posted in: Basketball, Scoops
The badminton kings and queens of Singapore youths have done it again. Raffles Junior College clinched the double for the sixth consecutive year in the National A Division championships, over Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) for the boys and Jurong Junior College for the girls. It was an even more exceptional record for the females, as it is now twelve years straight winning the title.

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Posted in: Badminton, Scoops

When artificial sweeteners were introduced to carbonated drinks in the 80's to produce diet sodas, the marketing companies hit the consumer jackpot.  

We had “real taste”, with zero sugar.

At 1.3 calories for a 330 ml can, as opposed to 142 calories for the regular sodas, woo hoo! Bring in the good and keep out the bad. Maybe...

Sport in Singapore is like a can of zero sugar soda.

To 76% (National Sports Participation Survey 2005) of the entire population of people who participate in sports that are aged 15 and above, sport is an activity to will one’s body into submission with gargantuan pain.

We all take part hoping that at the end of the tunnel, there’ll be light. I call this the “no pain-no gain” group. Put in the effort, get something out of the effort. Life goes on.

100% real participation, zero passion. We’ve all been there… okay, maybe it’s just me. 40 laps in the pool daily to “maintain health”... (I need to balance out the beer calories)

Laugh, you do not. I’m quite sure I’m not alone here.

To a very few enlightened ones, 17% of 1.486 million to be exact, they engage in sport because they love the activity.

This was however listed as number 7 on the list of reasons for Sports Participation, sandwiched between “looking good” and “social activity”. Talk about frivolous participation...

In fact, “love the sport” saw the largest percentage drop (5%) from the results in 2001. The only other drop registered was “social activity”.

This is worrying.

Sport in Singapore has been relegated to a chore that begs to be done, to achieve balance in the yin and yang.

With tears rolling down the side of my cheeks, I declare, it’s not about having fun anymore. And we all know what that leads to... drop-out.

On the 14th May 2008, Women’s world number 1 Justine Henin shocked the world by announcing her retirement from competitive tennis.

“I have decided to put an end to my tennis-playing career,” said Henin at a press conference in her native Belgium.

The young 25 year old tennis star had decided to pull the plug, weeks before her birthday on the 1st June.

“I know that it’s a shock and a surprise for a lot of people but it’s a decision I have been thinking about for some time.

“It’s the end of a great adventure, the end of something I had dreamed of since I was five.”

Henin has seven Grand Slam titles to her name and almost US$20m in career earnings accumulated over the last 8 years since her debut on the WTA tour in 1999.

Just 1 year ago, Kim Clijsters, a fellow Belgian and former world No. 1 retired when she was just 23.

Her reason for retirement, constant injuries and burnout from competing at the top level.

They just weren’t having fun anymore.

At another news conference last week before the Sybase Classic in Clifton, New Jersey, Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam who has 72 LPGA Tour victories and 10 major titles said she would stop competing at the end of this year.

“I’m very proud of what I have accomplished as a professional golfer and while I will no longer be playing competitively, I will continue to be very involved and engaged in the game of golf.

“I wanted to leave on my terms when it felt right. I didn’t want an injury to take me away from this game. Now I feel at peace.”

Sorenstam, 37, began her professional career in 1994 and just 9 years later in 2003, she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Well, at least we know she’ll still be swinging and having fun with the sport now forth.

There are countless many others in the world of sports that have thrown in the towel. You probably know someone who knows someone.

That said, there are also many others, whom, when is it not FUN anymore, still continue to be actively involved.

What’s their reason for swinging?

In 2007 alone, Tiger Woods can give you about 121 million reasons and David Beckham, another 250 million when he joined LA Galaxy.

The romance in conspicuous leisure has been over sold.

Ask any active or competing sports person out there and they might tell you, it has stopped being fun years ago. It’s all about going out there, getting the job done, putting on the game face, and winning.

But for the people like you and me? 

Our favourite ice-cream duo Ben and Jerry exclaims, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

And they are right. We don’t.

Sport dies as we grow faint in our love and from the looks of it, the future of a vibrant sporting culture in Singapore looks bleak.

Engaging in Sport without having fun is like drinking soda without the sugar - No sugar rush.

You go through the same motion, pull the tab, hear the fizz, it has the same taste, however, it’s just not complete.


Culture is genuine. There’s no faking it.

The Disneyfication of sport in Singapore as we know it results in people not really enjoying what they have with sport anymore. It has become the means to an end and the joy of participation has eroded. “Life long participation” has become an urban legend for many.

Sports participation falls exponentially with age. It happens all around the world, but what’s uniquely Singapore I dare say is that we completely drop out. All ties severed.

We don’t play recreationally, we don’t become a spectator, we do not coach the kiddy leagues.

We’ve lost our first love. The reason that made us pick up sport in the first place. To have fun.

Maybe, just maybe it’s the emphasis on competition throughout our “sporting career” in school that killed it all. That was what sport existed for in school then, and now, I must add.

It’s time we relook the rules of engagement.

I love the “Let’s Play” TV ad.

Okay, you’re probably jumping out of your chair right now, pointing your finger at the monitor and shouting “conflict of interest”, but well, I really do like it.

It tells a story of people having fun.

There is pure and genuine kid-like joy on their faces. There is no other reason why these people do what they do.

It’s not for money, not for fame, not for winning. Void deck soccer does not pay the bills nor earn any bragging rights.

Let’s all go back to a time when we were young, impressionable and angelic.

Find that first love. The smell of grass, the scuffle in the scrum. It was fun, why shouldn’t it be now?

It’s time to lace up the cleats. Just for fun.

“Get up, get out, come on, Let’s play-ehhhh… Get up, get out, come on, Let’s play!”

The song kinda got stuck in the head.

Life is about living and not making do with lost love. We’re not building Disneyland, but a sporting nation and a sporting culture.

I’ll go for the sugar, love-packed can.

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Posted in: Rant and Rave
Meridian Junior College finally did it on their third try. They beat Victoria Junior College 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium to win the National A Division Soccer Championships. It was a disciplined performance at the back, coupled with some fine individual displays, which held off the second half charge by the Victorians.

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Posted in: Football, Scoops
Bowling's premier event in Singapore is back for a whopping 41st time. It is happening at Safra Mount Faber and runs till the last day of this month. This Asian ranking tournament will once again feature last year's Men's Open champion, the Finn Mika Koivuniemi.

A socially-enriching programme is also planned, in the form of bowling workshops for the less fortunate. It will be fronted by the Female World Champion Diandra Asbaty.

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Bryan Tay has transformed himself, from an adolescent swimmer infamously remembered for that 'smiling controversy' last year, into the Best Male Athlete honoured at early last month's first-ever Singapore Swimming Association Awards.

How does he feel? What has changed?

We caught up with him.

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Posted in: Swimming, Scoops
For the fourth time this year the Stingrays faced off with the Marlins. And they still could not win.

The Marlins won their second consecutive championship in the Netball Super League after defeating the Stingrays 49-37 in the final. Player-coach Susan Sidhu and captain Premila Hirubalan were the outstanding performers. Vanessa Lee took home the Most Valuable Player award after the final.

At least the losing finalists hold the honour of being the only team to have held the undefeated Marlins this year.

The national teams for the open and 21&Under categories for upcoming tournaments were also announced. Players were selected through the season.

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Posted in: Netball, Scoops
Triathlon has been announced as part of the programme for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, to be held here. All 26 sports of the 2012 London Olympics will feature in Singapore.

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A Singaporean has achieved a first in the cricket world.

Batsman Sagar Kulkarni, 28 and a member of the national team, scored the first-ever 200 runs in the Twenty20 format of the cricket game. His total was 219, from a mere 56 balls. In the process he hit 18 sixes. The previous highest for runs in a Twenty20 match was 141.

Sagar's achievements were managed in our own Kallang backyard, during the Singapore Cricket Association Twenty20 Challenge.

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