SportSG announces $3m digital scheme
Grant aimed at helping those affected by circuit breaker measures
With the sports and fitness industry still largely shuttered, the fraternity was given a boost yesterday as Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced a new programme to help them go digital.
The $3 million Enterprise Innovation and Capability Grant was rolled out by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at ExPro, a virtual fitness conference.
Describing the new initiative, she said: "This grant will build capabilities and capacities of sports enterprises to help them take advantage of the growth opportunities in the digital economy.
"This will include the development and application of digital technologies, promote training and upskilling of sport professionals, as well as build stronger digital capabilities. We hope to support more than 20 enterprises with this grant."
Eligible entities include gyms, health and fitness studios, sports event organisers, event management companies, sports facility operators, and private sports academies and clubs.
Said SportSG chief executive Lim Teck Yin: "Developing strong digital capabilities will enable the industry to enhance engagement of customers and harness the insights from data to better meet their needs and interests.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has given impetus to fast track these developments."
The grant is the latest Government scheme aimed at helping sports and fitness professionals whose livelihoods have been impacted by the circuit breaker measures implemented to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
The New Paper spoke to seven people from the industry for a story published last week, and all but one of them had to take on alternative employment to make ends meet.
At a dialogue session with Minister Fu last week, members of the fitness and sports fraternity lobbied for their facilities to be opened during Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period, which begins on June 2.
However, the Government has since announced that sports facilities such as gyms and fitness studios will remain closed during Phase 1, which could last for four weeks.
But the Fortitude Budget on Tuesday provided the industry with other forms of support, as the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) was extended to August, and small and medium-sized enterprises were handed rental waivers by the Government.
The JSS covers between 25 and 75 per cent of the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages for all 1.9 million local employees.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education also announced that co-curricular activities coaches in schools can opt to get paid ahead of work done.
SportSG has also implemented multiple initiatives to assist sports and fitness professionals affected by the coronavirus.
Over 80 per cent of the 500 temporary jobs created by SportSG, such as social distancing ambassadors, have been filled.
The ActiveSG Circle, which was launched last month, allows freelance fitness instructors to connect with its 1.8 million members. Over 200 freelancers have joined the platform.
Also, over 230 applications for the Active Enabler Programme have been approved, with $2 million being allocated for such projects.
The programme offers sport enterprises and fitness instructors funding for projects to get Singaporeans to be physically active through digital platforms.
One of the projects that received funding was Run for Heroes 2020, a non-profit initiative that seeks to garner support for frontline workers and raise contributions for the Courage Fund.
Elvin Ting, managing director of events management company Orange Room and swim school The Swimming Room, was behind the programme.
On the Active Enabler Programme, the 40-year-old told TNP: "The grant actually helped us defray a significant part of the cost for (Run for Heroes )...
"It doesn't only keep my staff employed, (but also) keeps them motivated, because if you don't have any projects, it doesn't make sense for any one."
He added that he is also hoping to apply for the Enterprise Innovation and Capability Grant.
He said: "We're excited. It ties in with our whole mission of transformation because I do believe if we need to adhere to the new norm, technology needs to come into place. I strongly believe in the grant."
Freelance athletics coach Sky Khoo, who currently works as a venue ambassador looking after foreign workers who are in essential services and do not have Covid-19 symptoms, is also keen on the grant.
Said the 36-year-old: "I'm very interested in how we can digitalise high performance or elite coaching.
"This is something I'm looking at. Eventually, if I have athletes from other parts of the world, this is one avenue that can benefit me."
Eugene Lee, director of World Coaches Academy, which trains triathletes and runs seminars for coaches, moved half of his business online three or four years ago.
Said the 42-year-old: "With the new norm, there is obviously going to be a combination of in-person and online. So it's good to help everybody generally shift to an online platform."