2015 SEA Games will rock Singapore
Sport Singapore announce 'Final Push' for athletes
There is just under a year to go to the first South-east Asia (SEA) Games on Singapore soil since 1993, and a huge effort is already underway to ensure it will be a grand and successful event in terms of execution and medal haul for the Republic.
Even as local telecommunication giants SingTel announced their support for the 28th SEA Games yesterday by becoming the official multimedia partners, providing more than $15 million worth of multimedia solutions and technological infrastructure, Sport Singapore revealed they would pump in additional funds for more than 200 athletes across different sports to get them in the best position to win next year.
Next year's SEA Games will be held from June 5 to 16, involving over 7,000 athletes and officials from 11 countries, and will feature 402 events in 36 sports.
The funding initiative, called "The Final Push", is a one-year support scheme and increases the amount handed out for current support programmes for carded athletes who are non-Spex scholars.
For example, at the regional carding level, under the enhanced GLOW (Grant of Loss of Wages) initiative, athletes can now get up to $2,500 per month a year, up from the previous limit of $2,000 per month for six months.
Also, under the enhanced TAG (Training Assistance Grant), athletes may be remunerated with up to $800 per month for a year, up from the previous lump sum of $1,200 for a year.
Under the enhanced programme support, National Sports Associations (NSAs) can also request for more funds to help their athletes, for example in the form of sending them for overseas competitions or sparring matches to increase experience and exposure.
Sport Singapore will work with the NSAs to identify the athletes for the programme - who have to commit to a fully-monitored, full-time training load.
Newly-elected Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy told The New Paper: "This is fantastic support for our athletes and we are very appreciative.
"The enhanced support will definitely help athletes who may have to put their studies or work on hold to train full-time to do well at the SEA Games."
Meanwhile, SingTel joined NTUC FairPrice as a Tier 1 sponsor (minimum sum of $5 million) as the Singapore SEA Games organising committee (Singsoc) moves a step closer to reaching their $50-million target.
"In planning for the Games, we envisaged it to be the most digitalised Games in its history - one in which we can use technology powered by SingTel to augment game experiences and reach out to the entire South-east Asian region," said Richard Seow, Singsoc's chairman of sponsorship and marketing advisory sub-committee.
"This timely partnership will not only allow us to capture, interpret and co-create compelling shareable content, but will also bring us closer to that vision with their comprehensive portfolio of service that is ever-so-critical in today's working environment where speed and resiliency of data transmission is key."
Beyond hardware support, SingTel is providing more than $3 million in high-speed internet and Wi-Fi networks, including mobile and fixed telecommunications.
The 28th SEA Games officially marked its one year countdown at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday, with a slew of community events to have members of the public experience one of the main competition venues first hand.
More than 10,000 people turned up for the event, which was capped with a fireworks display along the waterfront, lighting up the new National Stadium.
Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, is heartened by the preparation, saying: "We are doing well, we are making good progress, we have planned ahead, venues for the sports competitions we know where they are.
"The preparations overall look like they are on track, and we should be in good shape for the SEA Games next year. There will be challenges. We just have to make sure there are contingency plans."
Crowded schedule for National Stadium
The Singapore Under-23 side's quest for the Republic's first gold medal at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games next June will kick off at either the Choa Chu Kang Stadium or Bishan Stadium.
The opening group stage of the tournament will not be held at the new 55,000-capacity National Stadium, due to the schedule of the opening ceremony and the rugby and track and field programme.
Speaking on the sidelines of the one-year countdown ceremony to the 28th SEA Games, Lim Teck Yin, chairman of the executive committee of the Singapore South-east Asia Games Organising Committee (Singsoc), said: "We are definitely holding the opening and closing ceremonies of the SEA Games at the National Stadium, along with football and track and field, and we are also hoping to get rugby to be played there as well.
"But the issue is the scheduling, because we need also consider holding rehearsals for the closing ceremony, and scheduling the sports together."
Football fans will be disappointed that the U-23s will not play all their matches at the home of the Lions.
Only the final will be held at the National Stadium, and organisers will try to also hold the semi-finals at the venue.
Currently, the preliminary round for rugby will also be held at Bishan Stadium.
While the Singapore Sports Hub will host major events like swimming and track and field, other events will be scattered around the island.
Shooting will be held at Yishun Safra and the National Shooting Centre, bowling at the Orchid Country Club and hockey at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
Golf will be held at Sentosa Golf Club and sailing at the National Sailing Centre at the East Coast.
The venues are also separated into clusters, with the Marina cluster hosting canoeing, sailing and traditional boat race events.
Said Lim: "The venues are clustered around the island to minimise travelling time from one venue to the other, so that the supporters can come out in full force to support our athletes and cheer them on."
- REDZWAN KAMARUDIN