Joseph Schooling did something what Singaporeans have never done before in history – won a coveted Olympic gold medal against all odds. And he did it his way…
Sent to the US at the age of 14 years old by his parents on their own expense, he scored a historic first after 51 years at the Olympic pools and set off a controversial chain of torrent on how our sports talent should be properly harvested.
Many Singaporeans are happy and proud that Schooling has finally put us on the sporting world map – stuff that the government has tried to do for the past two decades by pouring millions into China third-grade table tennis talents but failed.
Granted that such foreign sports talents have previously won something at the Sea Games and even the Asian Games but they have constantly skip past the elusive golden moment at the glorious Olympics.
More significantly, Singaporeans may even not celebrate as much like they did yesterday if any foreign import is to win a gold medal at the Olympics. Its one thing to celebrate a local victory and another if its won by someone who is not born and breed here.
People are not proud of a sporting achievement acquired through the short cut way – there is no patriotic feeling tied to something that is won by pouring money into the venture.
Sports glory is very much tied to patriotism as you don’t just represent yourself but also the whole country.
The Schooling family has pumped close to a million dollars into Joseph from age 14 years old by sending him to the US hoping that the money will pay off and there is no guarantee. It also shows how little faith they have in the local coaching programme and philosophy and its something the sports academy should take heed.
Will it be better now to scrap the local coaching scheme or even the recent sports school and start sending potential sports prodigies to overseas training for a better stab at sports glory?
The government also needs to realise that it makes more sense funding our local talents than foreign ones – they ought to have more patience and faith in our own people as doing it otherwise will not only hurt Singaporean sentiments but also potential local sports talents.
There is also the all-important pride factor when it comes to competing for sports glory – many sportsmen do it not only for personal glory but for the country as well.
It is something that no foreign import can understand let alone experience when they take to the pool competing on the support of the whole country.
You feel proud, rejuvenated and patriotic and probably that’s how Joseph felt when he took to the pool three times – all coming in first to bring home the glory.
Its time the government revamps the whole sporting arena – the funds need to be properly targetted on our locals, our own coaches need to upgrade themselves and there ought to be a proper system of identifying local sporting talent.
The disruptive compulsory national service must not be in the way of sporting prodigies and for that we must thank MINDEF for allowing Joseph to be disrupted for his Olympic training. Credit must also be given to his US coaches and his own mum who pleaded his case directly on his behalf.
We should scrap the wasteful foreign talent scheme which so far have nothing much to show for in terms of Olympic glory. Use the funds to good use by financing our own locals who I feel will treasure the opportunity more due to the nationalistic pride.
Parents must also not allow the sporting talents of their children go to waste by over-focusing on academic pursuits. For that, we must thank the Schooling family for sacrificing money and time spent with their son – they even have to sell away their home to raise money to realise a dream.
Everything in Singapore is posed against the proper grooming of local sporting talent and the sporting authority must get their act together as Joseph Schooling has done something out of the norm and against the grain of officialdom.
Joseph will probably be a unpolished gem if he still stays in Singapore and no one will be the wiser if he gets drafted into the dreadful national service.He will also probably struggle like many Singaporeans to pass his O and A level thus sacrificing his sporting talent?
Moreover, how many of such local talents have gone to waste because MINDEF has being uncompromising?
Joseph’s self-funded Olympic glory has given us a glimpse into the talent pool we could harness if we place our faith in them and though not all will be able to repay whatever funds and efforts we have invested in them, yesterday’s national pride at the Olympic podium has made realised that it is all worth it.
It has not only unites the whole nation together but more importantly made us feel proud again to be Singaporeans because we have been always chastised that we are not good enough – so foreigners need to be brought in to replace us.
The sporting, work place and academic arena have long being severely debilitated by such a damaging wide-spread move and many Singaporeans feel short-changed and discouraged often arguing that the government has over-looked them and favouring the foreigners.
More damaging at the economic front, many Singaporean PMETs are being replaced at the top and middle echelon in the work place and the government has allowed it with all kinds of easily-acquired work permits. Many felt betrayed and displaced by those they have placed their faith and voted in.
Tens of millions of dollars were also poured into educating foreigners annually who sometimes skilled their bond without any impact – denying many locals from pursuing their academic studies as places are limited. Many have no choice but to pursue their study abroad often paying expensive 6-figure sums.
Let us hope that Schooling’s Olympic victory has reinstalled the government’s faith in local Singaporeans and he has also shown us with proper family’s support and a iron-strong belief in one’s talent, no one can stop us from chasing our dream – however ridiculous and wild it may sound to others.
Like a old crooner once sang – he did it his way!
Written by: Gilbert GohNumber of View: 781