Thursday, September 18, 2014

State of affairs in our sports

The recent results of two team sports brought out the great contrast between them in many ways. Our netball ladies are the Asian Champion twice in a roll while our men soccer team is struggling in the Asian Games after a last minute successful appeal to be included to participate.
Much resources have been pumped into the national soccer team nation-wide and yet the 2010 dream remained as wishful thinking. We have the an infrastructure, S League, foreign coaches, COE for aspiring players (it has not been as successful as the NFAs the last time) and yet the team struggled even in a regional age group competitions, which was an embarrassment and an insult to all. When the national team won the ASEAN titles sometime ago there was great joy, adulation, etc though it was only a regional competition.
In contrast, it seemed that netball was given the short stick. Though they have an international coach, they didn't not have that much resources esp funds as the soccer team has.

What went wrong or right?
Soccer reaches out to many Singaporeans. You can see so many young boys kicking the ball around in the estates and any empty spaces daily. The inter-schools competitions always attract the most number of secondary school teams compared to any other sports/games. That could the reason why some elite schools avoided participation in this competition. Then the talented boys are shooed into COEs and the Sports School, yet... I have watched the Sports School teams playing in the inter school competition. They could be regarded as 'professionals' as these selected boys are housed in such an environment where they can train daily, twice a day, under very qualified coaches and psychologists, on a good field and with little stress on studies as they have ample support from the school. Compared this to a team from an 'ordinary' school, you would expect the SS boys to dominate, yet it has not been happening.

Is our scouting network wide enough? I was with a school in the West that soccer is a niche game for a few years. During an inter school match, a well-known soccer coach, impressed with my school's team commented to our teacher : why were those two boys not in NFA? Simple answer: these free spirited neighborhood boys did not attend did not deem it important to attend any of the selection trials!!

Netball is a game which seemingly is not that popular in and out of school. You do not see girls playing the game around the estates (basketball is more prominent) though there are many school teams in inter school competitions. I believed that they are also not given that much resources. So why are they doing so well comparatively?

I believed netball took off the moment when Ivy Singh took over. She is one hell of a lady who doesn't buckle against any odds. Thus, the notion of giving off one's all with little resources, never say die spirit and then winning was imbued in the netball DNA from then onwards. The closed group of players is able to gell, focus to achieve their target....teamwork & comradeship. The sailors and bowlers who are successful have more or less the same formula. Soccer? Too loosely grouped.

There is the 'mental thing'. Our soccer boys are too soft. Just look at the crocked players who seemed to be perpetually injured and yet chosen. Even the younger boys were caught up with wearing the latest boots model to look good thinking as though they are the millionaire footballers in professional leagues. When it comes to a crunch, they faded, the strawberry generation it is called.

Another is the lack of a sporting culture. Why is New Zealand dominating rugby? NZ families usually spent their weekends relaxing in parks and open areas. Their children would be playing with rugby balls instead of an handphone in shopping malls. Who supports the S league? More as spectators than hands-on participants....also punters and gamblers

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