Sports budget

Singapore Sports: Funding boost for NSAs but strings attached

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth announced on Thursday (March 9) a new One Team Singapore matching grant that will see the Government match dollar-for-dollar donations.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth announced on Thursday (March 9) a new One Team Singapore matching grant that will see the Government match dollar-for-dollar donations.PHOTO: ST FILE

More clarity being sought over enlarged kitty but sports are aware greater scrutiny will follow

National sports association (NSA) officials have welcomed the increased financial support towards elite-level sport, but are mindful that with more money comes greater accountability.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth announced on Thursday a new One Team Singapore matching grant that will see the Government match dollar-for-dollar donations, up to $50 million over the next five years.

This comes after an earlier pledge of an additional $50 million over the next five years for the High Performance Sports (HPS) system, bringing expenditure to about $70 million a year.

The national silat team returned from December's World Pencak Silat Championships in Bali with two golds but Singapore Silat Federation chief executive Sheik Alau'ddin said his exponents should not rest on their laurels.

He said: "With more funding, the targets and plans put forth by the NSAs will be scrutinised more closely. NSAs will need to work harder and more seriously on producing champions at the world and Asian levels."

Singapore Badminton Association president Tan Kian Chew shared similar sentiments.

GREATER PROFESSIONALISM

NSAs will need to work harder and more seriously on producing champions at the world and Asian levels.

SHEIK ALAU'DDIN, Singapore Silat Federation chief executive, believes the increased funding will raise standards.

The sport garnered four bronze medals at the 2015 SEA Games on home soil, and Tan said: "With this extra money, our objective is to perform better."

The HPS system, which supports both able-bodied athletes as well as those with disabilities, covers components such as athletes' allowances, annual grants to NSAs, as well as sports medicine and sports science support.

There were also some concerns that the new initiatives would favour individual sports over team sports.

Netball Singapore chief executive Cyrus Medora, while praising the increased funding as a "much bigger step up from the Spex scholarship", acknowledged that it would be difficult for athletes in team sports to qualify for funding "because you need many of the team players to be professional".

He added: "Professional standards are very much higher, and whether it's football or rugby or netball, getting into a top-notch team and being consistently picked is difficult, whereas athletes from individual sports can take part in overseas competitions on their own."

APPLY ACROSS THE BOARD

The question is how it will be fairly distributed. It's important that long-term potential is considered.

HO MUN CHEONG, Singapore Athletics president, feels that the grant should not be restricted to athletes with better medal prospects.

More details regarding the selection process are required, noted Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping, who added that it was unclear "if team sports is within the radar screen".

Singapore Athletics president Ho Mun Cheong hoped some money will be channelled to grooming youth athletes, rather than focus solely on known medal prospects.

He said: "The question is how it will be fairly distributed.

"It's important that long-term potential is considered... If there is a young athlete who shows potential but has not reached SEA Games or Olympics level yet, we should try and help them with their progress in either scholarship provision or overseas training."


  • Additional reporting by John Pravin
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Funding boost for NSAs but strings attached'. Print Edition | Subscribe