There were no Monday blues for over 40 members of the sports fraternity yesterday, as they started work in new temporary jobs created by national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) as part of measures to aid those whose livelihoods have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin unveiled the initiatives, which include training opportunities, in a virtual press conference yesterday.
"This is the time for sporting Singapore to come together to re-imagine how we can transform our industry to encourage and engage all in Singapore to live a healthy and fit lifestyle - one that would serve us well in this time and beyond," he said.
Private gym operators, instructors and freelance sports coaches are among those affected by the stricter social distancing measures announced last week with some gyms cutting classes or shutting, while the National School Games have been suspended till after the June school holidays.
SportSG will provide training opportunities for them, and 500 temporary jobs will also be created from now until the end of the year. The job listings will be rolled out progressively on Workforce Singapore's SGUnited and SportSG's job portals.
Tan, a freelance event coordinator who declined to give his full name, was among those who started work yesterday.
The 65-year-old, whose work revolves around school sports, events and competitions, told The Straits Times that while it has been a trying time, he is grateful for SportSG's assistance.
Justin Teh, general secretary of the National Instructors and Coaches Association, lauded the move.
"For those freelancers who have been really struggling, these initiatives are a great help," said Teh, 48, who coaches netball at Eunoia Junior College and Singapore Chinese Girls' School.
"Some of us have savings or other jobs to do, but some others are badly hit. The temp jobs offered could help them tide over this period, in addition to the measures announced recently as part of the Resilience Budget."
SportSG is also hoping to leverage on sport as a way to unite the nation as it battles the pandemic.
The agency noted that statistics suggest Singaporeans have been more active since the outbreak - 72 per cent of 500 respondents in the National Sports Participation Survey said they did a form of physical exercise once a week in January and February, compared to 58 per cent in the first quarter of last year.
There was also a surge in viewership - a whopping 268 per cent increase in number of unique visitors - of SportSG's digital content for sport, exercise and wellness, between Jan 1 and March 22.
To ride on the wave of Singaporeans taking an interest in such health and fitness content, SportSG plans to add a digital slant to its GetActive! Singapore offerings this year.
It will offer grants and subsidies to individuals, community groups and enterprises in the sport industry who are able to formulate and deliver new ideas - such as a virtual run or digital cycling race - for the campaign, which encourages Singaporeans to celebrate National Day through sport, beginning next month.
Said Lim: "This current situation presents an opportunity to strengthen and transform sporting Singapore and to inspire the Singapore spirit."