Singapore Government Media Release
Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts,
140 Hill Street #02-02 MITA Building, Singapore 179369.
Tel: 837 9666

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SPEECH BY PRIME MINISTER GOH CHOK TONG AT THE LAUNCH of THE NEW TIGER BEER SPONSORSHIP FOR THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE ON SATURDAY, 27 JANUARY 2001, AT 11.30 AM, AT REGENT HOTEL

I am delighted to join you today for the launch of the new Tiger Beer sponsorship for Singapore football.

Goal 2010

A little more than two years ago, I mentioned that Singapore should aim to qualify for the World Cup finals. I am pleased that the FAS has taken up my challenge, and set itself a bold and ambitious target of doing so by 2010.

It will be difficult, but not impossible, to achieve this target. It is worth a try. Every country, regardless of population size, dreams of making it to the finals. Singapore is no exception. Qualifying for the World Cup will be a fabulous achievement. Getting there itself will be an event Singaporeans will look forward to cheering for, and agonizing over.

Even if we do not succeed in 2010, in the process, we will raise the standard of the game in Singapore. And we can try again in 2014. Eventually, we will get there.

Goal 2010 deserves our support.

Sports Excellence

The Singapore Sports Council has done a lot to promote sports for the general population, as a means of keeping fit and building character. We should continue with such efforts. In the US, a company CEO is often likened to the quarterback of an American football team because he needs qualities like perseverance, focus, discipline, teamwork, creativity and a drive to excel. These are qualities that participation in sports can impart. I was also told of a marketing manager in an American company who would only recruit retired footballers, because he reckons that footballers have all the right aptitudes and attitudes for the job. They have been trained to be focused, and to ‘kill’ their competitors.

But beyond sports for all, we should step up our efforts to lift our level of sporting achievement to greater heights. The passion, emotions and excitement of cheering on our very own Singapore team and sports persons rally Singaporeans together. They break down social barriers. Our national sports heroes and heroines inspire the nation. When they don national colours, their success is not just their personal achievement, but one that instills in us a sense of national pride.

We have come a long way since the Sports Excellence programme started in 1993. In the last SEA Games in 1999, we won 23 gold medals and were ranked 4th out of 10 nations. We won an Asian Games gold in 1994, and two more in 1998. Last year, in the Sydney Olympic Games, we came so close to a medal in the women’s singles in table tennis.

However, I would like to see still more successes on the international stage.

To do so, over the last 5 months, the Ministry of Community Development and Sports has embarked on a wide-ranging review of sports in Singapore. Its Committee on Sporting Singapore has been deliberating, among other things, how to develop Singapore into a top sporting nation. I understand the Committee will be sharing some of its interim recommendations at the end of next month. I hope to see some good initiatives. But let me say something about lifting sports to new heights.

We need to cultivate a fundamentally different mindset to sports in Singapore to make a breakthrough. Sports should not be viewed as merely an extra-curricular activity, but as a challenging and rewarding profession.

Many initiatives need to be undertaken in order to effect this change in mindset. We need to develop a sports industry in Singapore that can generate good returns for its members. Parents need to be encouraged to allow their talented children to pursue a career in sports. We should not be averse to inducting foreign talent to raise the standard of sports in Singapore. Our National Sports Associations must have clear vision and goals, and should be provided with adequate resources and strong leadership.

Success will also depend on the support of the individual Singaporean and corporations. The quest for football excellence, for example, requires lots of hard work and perseverance from the players, but the players need plenty of moral and financial support as well. As Singaporeans, we can provide our players this moral support by turning up for their games and rooting them on. Corporate sponsors are critical for financial support.

Tiger Beer’s Sponsorship

In this last regard, I commend Tiger Beer for having sponsored $10 million in the last 10 years to support local football. It has already done much for the local football scene. I am, therefore, very pleased that it has committed further support for the game, through its ‘hong bao’ for Goal 2010. . My thanks to Tiger Beer on behalf of the FAS and the players, and on behalf of all soccer fans in Singapore.

Finding a generous and loyal sponsor like Tiger Beer is never easy. Once you find one, it is very important to sustain the relationship. Sponsors need to have a good return on their investment. National Sports Associations, clubs and athletes have therefore to provide their sponsors with appropriate mileage and good value for their money.

I hope to see many more corporations participate in the development of sports in Singapore with the same enthusiasm and commitment of Tiger Beer.

Conclusion

Let me end by saying that with the close cooperation of Tiger Beer, other corporate sponsors, officials, athletes and fans, I am confident that we have a decent chance of achieving Goal 2010. I wish the venture every success.

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