Funding boost for Team Singapore athletes
The Government will match public and corporate donations to the OTSF, up to a maximum $50m
After the SEA Games in August, national hurdler Dipna Lim-Prasad published a long, heartfelt post on social media on the difficulties athletes face in getting funds to excel in their sport here.
She wanted to start a conversation, which she had hoped would lead to improving the situation.
But she also ended up with offers of help.
The 26-year-old said yesterday: "There was a group of people who want to give (me) personal sponsorships, and that's obviously great and useful, but there's another group that was like 'I want to support but I don't really know who specifically it should go to'."
With the One Team Singapore Fund (OTSF) which was launched yesterday, corporations and the man in the street now have an avenue to contribute directly to the development of Singapore's elite athletes.
First announced in March this year, the initiative will see the Government match public and corporate donations to this fund, up to a maximum of $50 million, from this year to 2022.
The donations can go into a general pool, or specifically to a national sports association (NSA), with donors also enjoying tax reliefs on their contributions.
The money in the general pool will go towards enhancing the nation's High Performance System for national athletes, where athletes may have access to more training and competition opportunities, better sports science and medicine support, among others.
Said para-paddler Jason Chee, who aims to make the 2020 Paralympics: "From now till Tokyo 2020, I have to upgrade myself to the next level... with all the support from SSI (Singapore Sports Institute).
"Stuff like nutrition and sports psychology all play a part in developing me and my teammates to the next level."
Swimmer Amanda Lim added: "For swimming, we are quite privileged or lucky to have enough fundings from our results, but with the idea of having more funds available, that will automatically give us a confidence booster, knowing that we have the support if we need it."
The various NSAs can get the matching grants through the NSA OTSF scheme, whereby the sports bodies will be eligible for different amounts of grants, depending on factors such as their long-term ambitions, strength of their multi-year sports plans and their capability in executing these plans.
The grants that go directly to the NSAs will be used only in the area of high performance within that sport, and will be subject to audits by Sport Singapore.
Singapore Swimming Association secretary general Oon Jin Teik said: "High performance is a very high-cost, high-investment game, where the returns of investment will not come immediately.
"It takes time and patience to build, and all these will require sustainable resources.
"We have reached a stage where our athletes are not only local and regional champions but some have gotten to the world level.
"There is a momentum and resources very important.
"So, for an NSA like ours, this kind of programme is very encouraging, and very productive for us."
Last night's launch at Swissotel the Stamford was attended by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, along with spexBusiness partners and Team Singapore athletes.
Running club Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers and Deloitte Singapore were among the first donors, contributing $100,000 and $150,000 respectively, while Fullerton Health pledged $250,000 last night.
Lim-Prasad hopes that the new initiative would provide national athletes with more "continuity" in training, in terms of funding.
Other than the support she gets as a carded national athlete, she covers most of her daily training expenses herself, unless she qualifies for campaign-based funding in training towards major events such as the SEA Games.
Swimmer Amanda Lim added: "I think the key is consistency. With training, you will see a result with consistency, so if the funding is consistent, I am pretty sure that it would have a positive impact too."
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHARIFAH MUNIRAH SYED HASHIM