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05-11-2007, 05:31 AM #1
A Showcase for the Foreign Talent Scheme
The Sunday Times
Singapore, May 6, 2007
The Sports Editor
Tay Cheng Khoon
(Mr Tay supported the current Singapore Foreign Talent Scheme for sports and tells us why.)
What a showcase for the Foreign Talent Scheme.
Facing each other in the quarter finals of the Aviva Singapore Open badminton championships were Ronald Susilo and Kendrick Lee.
The Aviva at the Singapore Indoor Stadium is no regional backyard tourrnament.
It offers US$200,000 (S$303,000) in prize money and is part of the Badminton World Federation's newly set up Super Series.
It is also the first major event to offer ranking points for next year's Beijing Olympics.
That's why 28 of the world's top 30 male players are here. They include China's galaxy of stars Lin Dan, Chen Jin, Chen Yu, Indonesian Taufik Hidayat plus Denmark's Peter Gade.
This backgounding is important to appreciate how Singapore could have provided a semi-finalist (Susilo) and a quarter-finalist (Kendrick).
To reach the last eight, Kendrick had to upset world No. 3 Chen Jin.
Would the two Singaporeans have been able to do so without the still much-aligned Foreign Talent Scheme? I don't think so.
Perhaps now is an opportune moment to restate the cardinal values of the scheme.
It is recognised that Singapore needs a booster to launch most of its sports internationally.
Of course, there are rare exceptions like sailing and bowling that can do that without imports.
But others, such as table tennis, badminton and, lately, swimming have benefited much.
The scheme is a win-win situation for both parties.
Susilo came to Singapore as a young teenager to study at the Anglo-Chinese School. While he did not make much of an impact with his maths homework or analysis of Shakespearean tragedies, he did dominate the Schools National badminton scene.
The rest is history. The Singapore Badminton Association offered him top-rate coaching, competition and cash. Plus citizenship.
He accepted. Susilo wasn't ranked high in Indonesia then, so it's speculative whether he would ever be given the same opportunities had he not switched allegiance. Competition in Indonesia badminton is so much tougher.
As the top dog in Singapore, he has been to all the major championships. His accumulated experience has won him the Japan Open plus other smaller titles.
He also reached the quarter-finals of the 2004 Olympics, where he defeated world No.1 Lin Dan of China.
Kendrick, at 22 is five years younger than Susilo. He showed promise when studying at Catholic High and, when the call came to turn pro, he went for it.
He could have thrown tantrums and claimed that he could be the national champion if not for the SBA's enticing Susilo over.
But he was able to see the bigger picture. The Scheme was never intended to kill or steal his aspirations. It's to help him fulfil his potential.
Said Kendrick yesterday: "It has given us more competition, especially during training . It pushes us to train harder and be more motivated."
Of Susilo, he added: "Ronald is a good role model. He sets high standards, so the rest of us have a good guage of what it takes to be a world-class player.
"He has shown that it is possible to be world-class, even if we train in Singapore."
On a more specific note, the former world No 2 junior added: "He helped me cope with the transition from the junior to senior game. You can't smash and kill. It's about having patience during key points, staying calm."
And his final thoughts on the Foreign Talent Scheme?
"Ultimately, it's nation ahead of self. It's about Singapore doing well."
Whether or not the FTS ecomes irrelevant for Singapore sports does not depend on the Susilos of the world but on the Kendricks of Singapore.
When there are enough promising Singapore teens willing to surrender all to sports, then we can retire the FTS.
05-11-2007, 06:18 AM #2
thx for that loh...a good read
05-11-2007, 07:31 AM #3
I love reading a success story like this, it is good for badminton.
It shows that given the opportunities, encourangements, and benefits, anyone could succeed in their chosen profession.
Kudo to Ronald Susilo for a job well done and salute to the Singapore badminton organization and goverment for their gutsy decision and support for badminton.
05-11-2007, 07:51 AM #4
Ronald has indeed help in raising the game in Spore. However Spore cannot just rely solely in him as well as Kendrick.. Spore needs more young players to be exposed to the international scene.
05-11-2007, 08:46 AM #5
Singapore will be a dominant force just like Vietnam is a few years to come
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