Singapore Sports School

The Singapore Sports School is a specialised independent school under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. It was officially opened on 2 April 2004 by Goh Chok Tong, then prime minister of Singapore. The school offers youths an integrated academic and sports programme in a world-class environment.1

The idea of a sports school was first discussed by the Ministry of Community Development (MCD), the Singapore Sports Council and the sports community in the late 1990s. In March 2000, the government decided that a sports school was worth exploring more formally. The MCD was renamed Ministry of Community Development and Sports (MCDS) with effect from 1 April 2000 and a new sports division was created. A Sports School Taskforce was also established.

On 1 July 2001, then prime minister Goh Chok Tong announced that Singapore would have its first sports school, with Moo Soon Chong as its first principal.3 In March 2002, the sports school was named Singapore Sports School (SSP). It was to take in about 150 Express-stream students for eight sports, namely athletics, badminton, bowling, football, netball, sailing, swimming and table tennis.

SSP launched its staff recruitment drive seeking key coaching and sports science staff in February 2003.5 On 2 August 2003, it conducted a three-hour presentation titled “The Making of Champions” at the Singapore Expo to introduce the school’s academic curriculum and sports training programmes to the public, specifically targeting Primary 4 to Secondary 1 pupils and their parents.The selection trials for the eight sports were then held at various venues in August.There was an overwhelming response of 1,203 student applications, out of which only 150 (70 boys and 80 girls) were selected.

After the release of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results, 24 of the selected students did not qualify for the Express stream. Another two boys, who had promising potential in football and badminton, only made it to Normal (Technical) stream. Despite not meeting the school’s entry criterion, the students were admitted based on teachers’ recommendations, an analysis of their results and appeal made by the sports associations.9

On 5 January 2004, 141 students were enrolled at SSP and began their first day at school.10 The SSP was officially opened on 2 April 2004 by Goh.11

Admission criteria
The sports school admits about 150 students every year. Interested students are required to complete the selection trials which consist of a series of tests to assess their technical skills, mental strength, fitness, and measurements of their growth and development.12 Upon selection, students are required to pass their PSLE examinations with sufficient points for the Express or at least Normal (Academic) stream before they could be enrolled into SSP.13

In 2005, the SSP announced that it would lift the academic criteria for admission into the school from 2006 onwards. In line with the quota for mainstream schools, 20 percent of the places offered at SSP each year will also be set aside for foreign students undergoing training with the national sports associations in Singapore.14

Built at a cost of S$75 million, the seven-hectare boarding school is located at Woodlands Drive. It has five blocks of academic facilities and four blocks of accommodation. Its impressive sporting facilities includes two all-weather Olympic-sized swimming pools, a 700-seat indoor multi-sports auditorium, a badminton training centre with 12 courts, a table tennis centre which can accommodate up to 16 tables, a 12-lane bowling centre, a 30-bay indoor shooting range, a fencing hall, an 8-lane synthetic rubber running track, a synthetic football field and a two-storey strength and conditioning centre.15

The sports school offers the G.C.E. “O” Level examinations. It also offers several post-secondary through-train pathways that bypass the “O” Levels, such as the International Baccalaureate diploma programme, the customised diploma in Sports and Leisure Management from Republic Polytechnic, and the customised diploma in Business Studies (Entrepreneurship Management option) from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.16 In order to enable student athletes to meet the rigorous local and overseas training and competition requirements, the school has implemented a modular system of education, where students train up to 10 times a week and attend five hours of school every day. They are also given two hours of supervised study time every night.17 

Students who are unable to cope with the programme for valid reasons are permitted to opt out at any point and return to a mainstream school.18

The school has a combination of academic staff and coaching professionals. It is also supported by sports scientists to assist in the development of sporting talent in areas of mental training and proper nutrition.19

Shereen Tay

1. “Overview,” Singapore Sports School, accessed 20 July 2016; “About Us,” Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, accessed 28 September 2018.
2. Singapore Sports School, Singapore Sports School Yearbook (Singapore: Singapore Sports School, 2004), 18 (Call no. RSING 796.077095957 SSSY); Chan Tse Chueen, “Thumbs-Up for Sports School,” Straits Times, 16 March 2000, 70. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Singapore Sports School, Singapore Sports School Yearbook, 18–21; Stanley Ho, “CoSS to Set Up Sports School,” Today, 2 July 2001, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Kelvin Phang, “Sports School to Take Up to 150 Students in 2004,” Today, 19 March 2002, 31 (From NewspaperSG); Abdullah Tarmugi, “The Unveiling of the Sports School Model,” speech, 18 March 2002, transcript, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (From National Archives of Singapore document no. 2002031803)
5. “Sports School Launches Recruitment Drive,” Business Times, 14 February 2003, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “Sports School to Unveil Plans for Students,” Straits Times, 19 July 2003, 20. (From NewspaperSG)7. “Student Selection Trials,” Straits Times, 3 August 2003, 24. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Jeffrey Low, “You’re in, Sports School Tells 150,” Straits Times, 13 September 2003, A16. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Sandra Davie, “Sports School Dream Back on Track for 24 Students,” Straits Times, 26 November 2003, 1; Sandra Davie, “Sports School Bends Rules for Boy Stars,” Straits Times, 28 November 2003, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Singapore Sports School, Singapore Sports School Yearbook, 25–26; Tan Yo­-Hinn, “Sports School Looks Ahead,” Today, 6 January 2004, 46. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Tan Yo-Hinn, “Sports School to Link Up with New JC, Says PM,” Today, 3 April 2004, 38. (From NewspaperSG)
12.  “Student Selection Trials.”
13. Low, “You’re in, Sports School Tells 150.” 
14. “Sports School Lifts Academic Bar,” New Paper, 24 July 2005, 18. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Sports School Launches Recruitment Drive”; “Our Facilities,” Singapore Sports School, accessed 1 October 2018.
16. Singapore Sports School, “Overview.”
17. Cindy Tong, “A Leg Up For Sports,” Today, 28 July 2003, 32. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Sandra Davie, “Back-Up Plan for Sports School Kids,” Straits Times, 18 November 2003, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Tong, “Leg Up For Sports.” 

The information in this article is valid as at October 2018 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended ot be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Physical education and training--Singapore
Singapore Sports School--Sports
Sports and games