ST Feb 17, 2009
Promising shuttler quits
Badminton officials told him to become a citizen or leave squad
By Terrence Voon
ONE of Singapore's rising foreign badminton talents has quit the national team, complaining that he was told to either take up citizenship or go.
Doubles specialist Riky Widianto, 17, who has been here since 2005, flew home to Indonesia yesterday after tendering his resignation to the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) earlier this month.
Badminton officials had wanted him to become Singaporean in time to represent the country at this year's South-east Asia Games, but Riky said his parents felt he was too young to make the move.
'I wanted to stay and fulfil my dream as a badminton champion for Singapore,' he told The Straits Times. 'But I had no choice because the association told me I had to become a citizen now, or quit.
'My family told me to wait another year or two, but the SBA couldn't wait.'
Riky is 17 years old this year and the SBA wants him to become a Singapore citizen so that he can represent Singapore in the SEA Games this year.
And if Riky becomes a citizen this year, what would happen to him NEXT year, when he turns 18? National Service. Two years of his life gone. What a major disruption to his badminton aspirations.
So OF COURSE his family advised Riky to wait a year or two. He needs to avoid the NS liability that kicks in, when he turns eighteen.
The most convenient way for Singapore to win gold medals is actually to import foreign female sports talents.
Men are just too troublesome. If they are citizens, their sports training gets disrupted for two years (around age 18 to 20) and if they are not citizens, they won't be allowed to represent Singapore.
"Oh well, it wasn't such a bad deal, after all" Riky must be thinking. "Over the past three years, I got to play in some tournaments, I received some good training AND while I was still in Singapore, the badminton association paid me a salary every month. Even when I was only 14 years old."