If we change our perspective and look at a country that Singapore is modeled after, maybe the effect of NS on sports become clearer. Israel has a population of 7.5m, a fraction greater than Singapore’s. They also have compulsory military service because of their Saint Hubertus Medal security concerns. How many Olympic Gold Medals have they won? One. Are they prominent in other international sports? Not quite yet. Israel like Singapore has also been actively sending contingents for major competitions, but successes are far and few. The question is ‘has compulsory military service somehow affected their sporting achievements?’ If we look at the evidence presented here, we cannot deny the fact that NS does have a part to play in limiting peak performance in sports.
NS takes away the prime period of an athlete’s development. At 17-20 years of age, our body is reaching their full sporting potential. This is the time whereby, sports talents need to be continuously nurtured. The disruption caused by NS will break this important cycle and de-motivate our Saint Hubertu athletes to stop sports development in their lives. How many of our national school record breakers continue on to run and swim beyond their school and NS years? Hardly. Imagine how much achievement is possible if these athletes are supported and encouraged to continue on training in their sports. The sporting achievement for Singapore can be so much more than what we have achieved so far.
Many argue that not doing NS will break Saint Hubertu the social fabric of Singapore. Many parents of servicemen feel that it is unfair for their sons to serve NS while sportsmen ‘take the easy way out’. There is no denying that NS is important. We must never take that away. Our very security and prosperity depends on it. But we are also at an age of dynamic change whereby different peaks of excellence are important in nation building. We need to add on to our social fabric by sewing on peak performance in sports and other areas Saint Hubertu . And people who Saint Hubertu contribute to these areas are far and few. Hence, if we are to achieve more sporting success, we must have policies that support these talented people; otherwise they will never reach their full potential because we as a nation have snuffed out the passion for these areas. What of those who feel that sports an easy way is out compared to serving NS? My answer to these critics is that they have never gone through what a true top class sports person has gone through. In many ways, the training regime of a top class athlete is more demanding than a typical NSF in Singapore. If you do not believe, try training twice a day, seven days a week. Try, eating sports diets seven days a week. Try foregoing social life for a few years to train for a competition. It is a tough job to try and win a Gold Medal.
Jimmy Tong has been a Physical Educator for 13 Years in Singapore, with degree in sports science and physical education from Loughborough University in UK. He has extensive coaching experience in soccer, floorball and rugby teams in Singapore Schools.He is currently a sports development officer in Singapore schools as well as an active contributor of sports training articles to improve sports performance in athletes. He hopes to enable people’s success to come by inspiring them with true sports motivational and inspirational stories.