Less than four days after Singapore received the nod to host of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010, Young Sikh Association (Singapore), or YSA, took the initiative to promote football among young Singapore by organising a one-day 4-a-side football tournament. Held on 24 February 2008, the event attracted more than 250 players and supporters.

The event also aimed at promoting racial harmony by bringing youths of different ethnic groups, including participants from the self-help groups, together so that they are able to interact and network for greater rapport and camaraderie.

Mr Matthias Yao, Mayor of South East District, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and Member of Parliament for MacPherson, led the participants in the recitation of Declaration on Racial and Religious Harmony Pledge. Thereafter, he joined players from various ethnic groups in an exhibition match to start the tournament.

Mr Yao stated that, “The YSA initiative is important as it brings together Singaporeans from different races and religions. In such an informal environment, the players are able to interact and build ties.”

He added that in the light of the Youth Olympic Games, “such initiatives are important as they bring Singaporeans together to show support for sports in our country. All Singaporeans have a role to play in making the Games a success. It will be the first and we must have everyone Singaporean playing his or her part, either by organising and participating in sporting activities in the lead-up to the event as well as in the event itself. The Games is a partnership of the organisers, businesses and the pubic. For those who will be participating in the Games, I wish them well.”

Mr Hernaikh Singh, President, YSA, stated that, “Every year, this tournament has had many objectives such a promoting racial harmony and a healthy lifestyle, and providing a platform for interaction. This year’s event is special for another reason – Singapore has just won the right to host the first Youth Olympic Games and the tournament provides the opportunity for the players and supporters to come together to celebrate this momentous occasion.”

Fifteen-year old Ammandeep echoed the sentiments of the players, stating that, “I look forward to the Games. Many Singaporeans put in so much effort in ensuring that the Games are held here. Now, we have the chance to witness a world-class event in Singapore. I just cannot wait for 2010.”

After a day of exciting and competitive matches, Sembawang Invitational emerged champions in the “Open” category while Paris 23 took the top honours in the “Veteran” category, which was held for the first time.

The event was supported by South East Community Development Council, OnePeople.sg, and the National Youth Council, with a grant through its Youth Development Fund.

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