SINGAPORE: Striking the right balance between funding high performance and grassroots sports will be the challenge that Singapore faces post-Rio, said the Chief Executive Officer of Sport Singapore, Lim Teck Yin on Friday (Sep 30), as the sport governing body looks to improve on the achievements from the latest Olympic and Paralympic cycle.
SportSG CEO Lim explained that the High Performance Sports (HPS) system – which includes components like monetary rewards, enhanced coaching support and sports science – had a part to play in the recent Olympic and Paralympic successes.
While the multi-million dollar HPS system will remain a costly undertaking given the governing body’s finite resources, Lim gave the assurance that it will not come at the expense of non-Olympic sports.
“I think the balance is always being reviewed continuously, because we know what the available resource pool is,” said Lim at a session sharing insights on the high performance sports system.
“Should we focus on just the Olympic Games and forego support for those sports that are featured (at the SEA Games)? Especially those sports that are important to our local context? The answer is no,” he said.
“We have to support our silat athletes. We (also) think wushu is important to us. When we say balance, there are multi-year plans that I think are getting sharper and sharper, and tending to be narrower.
“So from 1,500 carded athletes, you have 72 SPEX scholars. That’s sharpening - yet the campaign funding model, the multi-year plans and annual grants allow us to give weight to a broader base of regional sports that would do us proud in major Games.
“And I wouldn’t throw that out in favour of just Olympic sports.”
Developing sports at grassroots level remains a priority, said Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who also attended the HPS insight session at the Sports Hub.
She spoke of the need to review the sustainability of the current model in funding the journey of carded athletes: “From the Ministry’s point of view, we want Singapore to be the place for determined, aspiring athletes to succeed at the world stage. And we want more to be given that opportunity,” said Ms Fu.
“The MCCY is looking at how to develop the support system more comprehensively so that we have a strong pipeline allowing more athletes have the opportunity to give competitive sports at the world stage a shot.
She added: “I think this system has to be sustainable that is able to meet the needs of athletes through the years. If you seen what we’ve shown such as (Joseph) Schooling, (Quah) Zheng Wen, Theresa (Goh) or (Yip) Pin Xiu ... it’s really a long journey. They start many many years back. So this system must be able to sustain them through the journey.”
Ms Fu also reiterated that the society at large also has a part to play in ensuring the continued success of Team Singapore, involving not just governmental support.
“We encourage all sectors of Singapore – the public and private sectors, the NSAs, VWOs – to support our athletes as they are putting in a lot of effort,” she said. “We want to affirm their achievements because it takes a whole society to say something about the kind of sporting culture in Singapore.”