We have seen an influx in support from companies pledging their support for the success of Joseph Schooling’s Olympic win and sometimes, it is hard to tell whether these efforts come as a marketing ploy to ride on the wave or a genuine heartfelt gratitude that these companies are proud of, it could be both, it could be either or neither.
The process of the journey of excellence does not begin when the athlete gets a medal or proves that he/she is capable, the journey begins right from the seed and with the maturing process that of a plant growth : firstly, a seed that grows into a shoot, followed by shaping up as a plant and flourishing into flowers in due time. What are the support needed to see another ‘Joseph Schooling’? and to groom the next Olympic and World Champion?
Here are some suggestions that will be crucial and impactful in journeying with these athletes:
1) Adopt an Athlete
Adopting an athlete under the wing of a company or an organization has proven to be a good initiative. In Thailand, athletes get inducted into the military not for national service but are adopted under their payroll and a support system that ensures a stable career after the athlete finishes their sporting career. In Japan, corporate companies ensure that these athletes have a company that will back them up financially, emotionally, mentally as these Japanese athletes push towards their dreams and the company eases the burden in the same well to ensure stability and a good career progression. In Singapore, the adoption of an athlete is on the rise with the SpexBusiness Network under the Singapore Sports Institute pairing athletes to corporates, however, a deeper emphasis is needed to adopt a larger pool of athletes and to give them more corporate partners to fulfil their career ambitions post sport.
2) Change in policies
The government and policy structure makes THE difference. The decision to give Schooling the opportunity to train full time without any disruptions till Tokyo 2020 is a good initiative. The crucial years for a budding athlete to improve to their peak form in events like swimming, running etc is from the bracket age from 18 to 24 years old. With the inclusion of National Service for male athlete to begin after these crucial years could be a change to cultivate more talents into the world stage. Other policies that could be altered is the emphasis to grow full time athletes as a viable career. The likes of the SpexScholarship is a good campaign that boost the opportunity and stability of pursuing sport as a career. With a mandate from the government, this initiative will spur more athletes to take up their sport in pursuit of their dreams. However, the opportunity could be improved to include more athletes to ensure there are sufficient funds and provision for athletes who may not have attained a world level status yet.
3) Fight FOR and WITH them
The utmost support is to BELIEVE in the athletes, to BELIEVE in their coaches, to BELIEVE in the support structure. Sport in the past was seen more as a national initiative to keep fit and to stay healthy and sporting excellence was in the grey areas. The quest of any athlete begins firstly in their minds, fighting with them and for them will help in their mental psyche. Supporting their goals wholeheartedly whether they make it in the end or not is pivotal as sporting excellence grooms an individual to be a goal getter, a dreamer, a finisher. These traits would not be possible if the individual has not been put to the test. Let us continue to support future athletes and to journey with them, till that day, when they rise above our expectations and when we hear the next national anthem at the Olympic games or World Championships, we know their story, we know their heartaches and failure towards that day and we can call ourselves TRUE supporters of Team Singapore!