National track and field athletes in limbo over payments
Singapore Athletics' carding system, which determines amount of training stipends, lapsed last month
National track and field athletes were left confused and in limbo on Tuesday, after they were told that Singapore Athletics' (SA) internal carding system has ceased until further notice.
The national sports association's scheme classifies its athletes according to their performances against certain benchmarks, including the SEA Games, and awards both the athlete and his or her coach with cash payments to offset training costs.
According to the SA website, a 2015 SEA Games gold medallist gets $1,200 a month, while the coach receives $700 monthly under its 2017 carding system.
The money is disbursed quarterly. The coaches and athletes received their July, August and September payouts this week, when they were also informed of the stoppage in the system.
National hurdler Dipna Lim-Prasad said: "I was told by the SDP (Sports Development and Performance) team yesterday that SA carding would cease until further notice."
National sprinter Shanti Pereira added: "I was definitely surprised to hear that SA carding has ceased. It has never happened to me before.
"Right now, there are a lot of questions in my head but hopefully they will get answered soon."
There are a lot of questions in my head but hopefully they will get answered soon.National sprinter Shanti Pereira
National athletes use the money for nutrition, transport, and training equipment, among other things.
Lim-Prasad, 26, said: "Athletes such as myself are full-timers, so the loss of funds from the SA carding is significant because we are also not under the spexScholarship or any other campaign support scheme at the moment.
"I will continue to look for sponsors to cover that amount or may have to find a part-time or ad-hoc job, as I have done in the past.
"But cash sponsors are also hard to come by in Singapore, and having a part-time job would not be ideal because it eats into my rest and training times, therefore affecting my training load."
The government's spexScholarship provides selected national athletes with monthly stipends and increased sports science and medicine support, in their bid to excel at regional, Asian, world and Olympic levels.
Pereira is the only track and field athlete who is on this scholarship.
Contacted, SA president Ho Mun Cheong assured that the SA carding system will continue, although the terms may be revised.
He explained that the current carding system expired at the end of last month, and he will "expedite" the revised system.
"We will never stop the carding money (system). How can we stop it?" said Ho, who received feedback from athletes and coaches about the cessation.
"It is part of (national sports agency) SportSG's funding to SA and meant for the carding system."
Asked why the current carding scheme was allowed to lapse without a new one in place, he said: "I only came to know about this... I checked with the secretariat straightaway... and they told me after September, we needed to revise (the carding system)."
He added that it is up to SA's training and selection committee to send a proposal for the revised scheme to the management committee (MC) for approval, and the decision can be made without convening an MC meeting.
Ho is confident that the matter will be resolved before the next tranche of payment in December or January.
He said: "No need (to wait till) December, now that I am aware of this, I will try to expedite it.
"I will try not to affect the coaches or athletes because they need this money for training. How can we stop this?"