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Old 10-07-2005, 11:24 PM   #1
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Naturalisation & National Teams

In Singapore we have a scheme called the 'Foreign Talent Scheme'. Bascially we source other countries (usually China and Indonesia) for young talent, bring them over here, fast-track their citizenship and put them in our national teams.

It's been an effective process; we've come closest to our first Olympic medals for 40 years thanks to some China-born table-tennis players, but there's been loads of public outcry over the scheme. Ironically, the first and only Olympic medal, in weightlifting, was won in Rome in 1964 by a Malaysian representing Singapore.

It's important to realise that Singapore is an immigrant society, and that quite a few of these athletes have lived for an amazingly long period here. For instance, there's Dan Bennett, a Liverpool-born football defender who came to Singapore when he was three and studied at the International School here, who is now a citizen and plays for the national team. However, there are others who've only been here for two or three years and representing the nation, and as such, quite a few people have felt very uneasy over the whole situation. It must be reminded that unlike Qatar, which has a similar scheme, the athlete has to come and train in Singapore first.

To what extent do you think it's necessary for an athlete to represent his country of birth rather than his country of residence? If he truly feels for Singapore, as these foreign-born athletes claim they do, is this good enough? Is the scheme inherently limiting to local players, or is the spin-off in terms of quality and experience ultimately beneficial?
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Old 10-07-2005, 11:33 PM   #2
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What exactly does "fast-tracking their citizenship" entail?
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Old 10-08-2005, 08:09 AM   #3
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I'd guess waiving the usual waiting period?

My husband and I discussed this often, regarding especially, a boy who lived next door. The family are Indian and I believe he and his younger sister were born over there but moved when the family relocated a couple of years ago. Anyway, the father, a cabbie, played the equivilant of county cricket in India. We played some street games with him a few times and he spoke of how damned hard it was over there to crack it and he had been lucky and made his way up through his university. He is a qualified scientist of some sort, but government bullshit meant he gave it up here to drive cabs. The boy often played with us and even at the age of 8, we could see that he had talent you dont often see in young kids. It was so much so, that when he'd say (like most kids) "all I want to do is play cricket when I grow up" you knew he would one day. And this kid will. But who for? One day we asked him jokingly if he'd jump ship and support our flailing country (at which point we were flogging India's arses) and he said of course he would. I think in this situation it will come down to citizenship, and this reply is pointless rambling about something not quite what you are getting at.

But it's an interesting question. Can you represent a country you weren't born in? When does national loyalty start? Does it matter? I dont think I can honestly answer your last lot of questions, yertle. We're a nation of immigrants as well and who's to say who is more entitled than another. Isn't the whole point of allowing immigration then allowing these people to become one of your country's anyway?
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:29 AM   #4
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I want to type about 50 paragraphs on this topic but I shall write it as briefly as I can.

I cannot and never will be able split the difference between playing sport for a country and representing a country. If you pull on the jersey and sing the anthem for all intents and purposes you should be able to say with all sincerity "This is my country".

There are numerous instances where this obviously is not the case and individuals simply move to countries for sporting expidincy (some examples which I can forgive, for example I generally overlook anything involving South Africans). I think it is wrong and they are being a fraud to themselves, and their...uh... countries.

Basically, nations approaching specific individuals to switch nationalities purely for sporting reasons will always rub me the wrong way. While I understand Singapore's unique predicament I would much prefer they invest funds in creating "elite training facilities" for particular sports which may naturally attract younger athletes who would naturalise to Singapore by choice rather than because they secure a walk in start on the natural team...


That being said, I could/would never represent any other country in anything - other than that of my birth. I wil never understand how anyone who has been given so much by the nation could ever turn around and spit on it by switching allegiances.

I'm inchorenent... it's late. Sorry.
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Old 10-08-2005, 10:53 AM   #5
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I don't think there's a problem with waiving a waiting period. If "fast-tracking" citizenship meant waiving a loyalty oath or eligibility to be pressed into armed service, that's another story.

Immigration is what made the USA great, so you probably won't hear many complaints from here. I do think that what Brett Hull did is mildly lame, though (got cut from the Canadian hockey team a long time ago, applied for dual USA citizenship and now plays for USA hockey).

Timothius, what if you were born in North Korea or Cuba? Not that you'd necessarily be able to escape such a country, but if you wanted to and were able to, would you?
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Old 10-08-2005, 08:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer
Timothius, what if you were born in North Korea or Cuba? Not that you'd necessarily be able to escape such a country, but if you wanted to and were able to, would you?
I would put them in a similar basket to South Africa, if you were to naturally leave the country for the sake of your wellbeing and/or a stance on a moral issue and decided to reside in another country and play for them I would see no issue with that. I would imagine you would feel a deep gratitude to the country that took you in and would even call that one "home".
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Old 10-10-2005, 07:27 AM   #7
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Re: Naturalisation & National Teams

Quote:
Originally posted by yertle-the-turtle
It's important to realise that Singapore is an immigrant society, and that quite a few of these athletes have lived for an amazingly long period here. For instance, there's Dan Bennett, a Liverpool-born football defender who came to Singapore when he was three and studied at the International School here, who is now a citizen and plays for the national team.
If Bennet had the choice between playing for England or Singapore, he would chose England.
If he had the choice between 10mns with England or 125 caps for Singapore, he would chose the 10mns.
Don't dream.
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Old 10-10-2005, 07:30 AM   #8
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Re: Re: Naturalisation & National Teams

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Originally posted by guill


If Bennet had the choice between playing for England or Singapore, he would chose England.
If he had the choice between 10mns with England or 125 caps for Singapore, he would chose the 10mns.
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Old 10-10-2005, 07:50 AM   #9
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Old 10-10-2005, 08:44 AM   #10
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True, but he's not good enough to play for England. He had a spell up at Wrexham reserves.
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Old 10-10-2005, 10:05 AM   #11
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That said I'm not Singaporean, I don't root for the team, but living here it's been made an issue.

My country of birth is Japan and that will always be my country, no matter how long I've stayed here. There's actually a foreign-born Japanese player, Alex, who's actually Brazilian, but he's lived in Japan since his teens.
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