Participant Perception of the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) Scheme

Participant Perception of the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) Scheme

Clement Chan (Republic Polytechnic, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7527-8.ch009
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Abstract

This chapter seeks to understand the participant perception of the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) scheme in Singapore and the pivotal role of the FST scheme in Singapore's elite sports development, through the analysis of the impact of FST on Singapore's sporting achievements since its inception in 1993. To facilitate the above, a survey questionnaire was used to solicit responses from participants collected by a group of 3rd year students from Republic Polytechnic. The findings demonstrated diverse opinions on various aspects of the FST scheme. Towards the end of this chapter, it considers and recommends suitable measures to enhance the FST scheme, such as programmes to enhance social assimilation into Singapore, post-career opportunities for the FST athletes, and transference of skills and knowledge to the younger generation.
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Background

In the early years of Singapore’s Independence, the emphasis was to promote a policy of sport for all Singaporeans. This emphasis took the form of fitness programmes to achieve better health, communal integration and national defense (Horton, 2002). However, the pursuit of excellence in sport became the focal point with the initiation of the Sports Excellence 2000 (SPEX 2000) in 1993 (Horton, 2002). In the same year, the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) scheme was launched by the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) and was known as Project Rainbow.

This scheme was used by sports officials and organizations in Singapore to scout and facilitate the migration of foreigners with sports talent, to represent Singapore at sporting events. It enabled National Sports Associations (NSAs) to attract skilled athletes from abroad, giving them a fast track to Singapore citizenship. These foreign sports talent were also brought in to help improve the standards of local athletes by setting higher benchmarks, to act as role models and to enhance the image of the Singapore sport industry. In the long run, it was hoped that they would spur and motivate local athletes to strive harder and improve their skills to international standards (Peh, 2012). Above and beyond sports achievements in the international arena, it was hoped that the FST would, in the short run, raise the overall sporting climate and competitiveness in Singapore (Goh, 2013).

Under this policy, the Million Dollar Award Programme (MAP) which offered a million dollars to athletes that win an Olympic Gold was implemented. Besides the monetary incentive, athlete support system, one of which was the Sports Excellence division in SSC was set up as a testament of the government’s commitment in achieving Sports Excellence. Another significant milestone in elite sport development was the publication of the Committee on Sporting Singapore (COSS) report. This report encompassed 40 recommendations that covered the developmental strategies of the three pillars (Sports for all, Sports Excellence and Sports Industry) which were crucial for the achievement of Singapore’s Sporting Vision.

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