More corporate backing, please
Sports minister Fu says high performance support system is nimble and backs all talented athletes
Paralympic stars Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh have made the call and yesterday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu lent her voice to the chorus, when she urged corporate Singapore to come out and back para-athletes' aspirations of equality, at least in terms of rewards for performances at major Games.
Sharing insights into the national high performance system that gave rise to a total of three gold medals and a bronze at the Rio Olympics and the Paralympic Games this year, she pointed to the importance of a system that is constantly evolving to stay relevant.
And corporate Singapore has a big part to play in this evolution.
"The awards, rewards, sponsorships and endorsements, that's where I think corporate Singapore really has a great role to play," Fu said, at a media briefing at the Sports Hub yesterday.
"And I encourage all to step up, have that discussion with Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) and see how we can support the athletes in a more holistic way.
"Opportunities are equal for able-bodied and para-athletes, with funding support given to them. We need the corporate side to step up and send that message."
Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin was quick to assert that equality is present everywhere else in the system.
"Our Spex Scholarship has applied the principles of support evenly across able-bodied and para-athletes. When you look at the different matrices and carding levels, we have applied that principle in the same way across the different athletes.
"If there's a requirement for overseas training, a requirement to move specialised equipment, if there a requirement for a specific coach, we do all these things, we have supported that, in the same way regardless of whether it is a para-athlete or an able-bodied one," said Lim, who pointed out that the absolute amount between athletes may differ depending on what one may need.
A sum of $40 million has been set aside for the Spex Scholarship programme, with an additional $20 million in Spex Grants to cover training costs, equipment and apparel.
Whatever the category of sport, both Lim and Fu were united in their stance that the national high performance system must be nimble enough to evolve alongside athletes' requirements, if it is to stay relevant.
"This is the kind of discussion we have year after year, asking ourselves, 'Are we doing right, is the fund allocation correct,', and the ministry will continue to do so," said Fu.
"We will not ever say, 'Yes, this is right.' It will (be reviewed) every year, even as we lay down the big anchors, big pieces (of the puzzles) and every year there will be some adjustment and fine-tuning going on."
Lim also revealed that there will be a balance between support for top-level athletes eyeing Olympic glory and regional athletes targeting success on the Asian and Asean stage.