Singapore sports receives huge financial boost
Government to inject at least $50 million to nurture local elite athletes
National shooter Martina Lindsay Veloso has few complaints about her training environment and regimen right now.
"But, of course, if there are better facilities, such as a new range, or a higher-quality training environment, it would be good as well," said the 17-year-old Nanyang Polytechnic student, who aims to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
National athletes such as Martina are set for a huge boost from April onwards, with at least $50 million to be injected into sports to help Singapore's elite athletes get to the top.
The Singapore Government will pump $50m into the High Performance Sports (HPS) system over the next five years, or $10m a year.
Spearheaded by national sports agency Sport Singapore, the money will go towards improving the capability and capacity of coaching and technical and high performance support staff that surround the athletes.
The war chest will also help develop more opportunities for top national athletes to benefit from clinics and workshops, overseas training and competition stints, and improve the athletes' daily training environment.
While Singapore's top athletes, such as Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and bowlers like Shayna Ng and Cherie Tan, are well supported by the Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarships, non-scholars will be able to tap into funds from this year, as they prepare for major Games such as the South-east Asia (SEA) Games and the Olympics.
We need our corporates, parents and the wider public to rally behind our athletes.Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu
"A talented and dedicated athlete is a necessary starting point," Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in her Committee of Supply debate speech yesterday.
"To groom that athlete into a world champion, we need great coaches supported by deep sports science and sports medicine capabilities.
"Another learning point is that success at the elite level requires long-term commitment; we don't produce champions overnight.
"Growing our pipeline of talent and grooming them for podium success requires long-term athlete development plans and the resources and the technical expertise to create a high-performance training and competition environment."
Also, the Government is pledging to match public and corporate donations to the Vision 2030 Fund.
Minister Fu said: "We need our corporates, parents and the wider public to rally behind our athletes.
"That is why we are setting up a One Team Singapore matching grant, which will match sports donations up to $50m into the Vision 2030 Fund, dollar for dollar, over the next five years."
Companies have been more forthcoming in supporting sports here. Sponsorships for the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore well exceeded the organisers' $50m target, while SportSG's spexBusiness network has grown from seven companies in 2013, to 39 this year.
Deloitte Singapore is one such company. The accounting and consulting firm was a SEA Games 2015 sponsor and has partnered SportSG on programmes such as its in-house Ignite programme.
It also offers national athletes like netballer Kimberly Lim flexible working arrangements that dovetail with their training and competitions needs.
Singapore's former top men's singles shuttler Derek Wong was also a beneficiary of Deloitte's flexi-work scheme.
"Our support for sports in Singapore is for the long haul," said Deloitte Southeast Asia and Singapore chief executive officer Philip Yuen.
"In terms of monetary contributions and volunteerism, we are always on the lookout for different avenues and platforms to widen our reach into the community for us to make an impact that matters.
"We will continue to partner with sports associations and non-governmental organisations for opportunities where we can be of help.
"We will assess each opportunity to see how we can align our support with our core purpose and values."
Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy is heartened by the incoming investment in elite sports, having just launched the NSA's high-performance blueprint towards Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
He is optimistic that the matching grant for the Vision 2030 fund will not divert corporate sponsors away from NSAs.
Lee said: "We hope it would actually be engagement at different levels; we think there might be space for both (Vision 2030 Fund and NSAs) to raise funds on their own because the targeted supporters may be slightly different."
Minister Fu said SportSG and the NSAs will "work closely so that efforts are aligned and optimised".
"Being a small country without a large population base, we must ensure that resources are used effectively for sustained performance.
"This will require a long-term focus, technically sound training plans and continuity of efforts," she added.