Communication between NSAs and athletes is key
This will help to minimise misunderstanding on the usage of contribution to national bodies
Sending a national athlete overseas for training or competition can be an expensive affair - items such as flights, accommodation and equipment can easily cost a five-figure sum.
National sports associations (NSAs), though, don't always inform the athletes of how much is spent on them.
Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) president Ellen Lee said: "Most times, we tend to shield (athletes) from what has been spent on them but, if you're the one who is looking at the accounts, you may be shocked by the figures.
"Some people may say, 'Don't be so calculative, at the end of the day I am training for the country' but, on the other hand, if you don't let them know how much has been spent on them per year, they may take it that we didn't spend enough on them."
The monies for such overseas ventures come from various sources, including the government, donors, sponsors, and from athletes' contributions from the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme (MAP).
Athletes who win medals at major Games - SEA Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Olympics - are required to plow back at least 20 per cent of their award to their NSAs for future development.
UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT
This contribution recently came under the spotlight when marathoner Soh Rui Yong baulked at giving 20 per cent of his $10,000 award back to Singapore Athletics, after winning the marathon gold medal at this year's SEA Games. (See story below.)
A total of $670,000 was disbursed to 101 gold medallists from this year's SEA Games in Malaysia at last night's MAP Awards presentation and Team Singapore appreciation dinner at Orchard Hotel, with the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) due to collect some $50,000 from the $250,000 its aquatic athletes received.
NSAs have different ways of handling these contributions - the SSA and the Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) have set up separate funds for MAP monies, which will be channelled back to aspects such as athlete welfare and development.
"Bowling has reached a stage where we are looking to move forward and develop the younger bowlers," said SBF honorary secretary Delane Lim.
"The money that comes in from the MAP funding enters the association's general fund, and the money is then channelled accordingly into two separate funds - the development fund and the bowler's fund."
Yet, SSA president Lee Kok Choy acknowledges that separate funds could be the exception, rather than the norm.
The SSA set up a separate fund last year after receiving $200,000 from swimmer Joseph Schooling's $1 million award from MAP for winning a historic Olympic gold medal, with future MAP contributions going into this account.
Lee said: "The amounts that we have are large, if it's a small amount, I don't think it's fair to expect an association to set up a separate fund."
But NSA officials and athletes The New Paper spoke to last night acknowledged that communication between the association and the athlete is important to minimise misunderstandings on the usage of these contributions.
SSA's Lee said: "Definitely if we have such situations, explaining how the funds are used can be helpful. We have our own athletes' commission that is chaired by (swimmer Quah) Ting Wen, who can represent our athletes."
National squash player Mao Shu Hui added: "In general, it is always good to be transparent. That being said, its importance varies from athlete to athlete.
"For me, I don't need a dollar-for-dollar account on what the money is being spent on as my needs are met."
Silat exponent Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin said he has no problems contributing his share of the MAP monies, for winning the SEA Games gold this year, to Persisi.
The 19-year-old said: "I am happy with my association and I fully trust the association because I have been in it since I was young.
"What I am giving is nothing compared to what they have given me and my teammates.
"In the end, the money will be used by the athletes."
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JONATHAN LEE