SINGAPORE - Continuity can give TeamSGP Athletics the edge in the upcoming Singapore Athletics (SA) elections, said veteran official Edmond Pereira, who is leading its slate of nine.
The 70-year-old lawyer made the comments to the media after sharing his team's manifesto and plans for the sport with affiliates at a virtual town hall on Thursday (Sept 10).
TeamSGP Athletics, which features incumbent SA vice-president (training and selection) Ang Peng Siong and vice-president (competitions) S. Govindaraju, will be up against Team Ground Up in the Sept 25 polls. No other teams have come forward yet, with the deadline for nominations on Sept 15.
Team Ground Up is led by Lien Choong Luen, general manager of ride-hailing firm Gojek, and features no members of the current committee, although two of its candidates, Joe Yap and Gary Yeo, had served previously.
When asked if he felt Ang and Govindaraju give TeamSGP an advantage, Pereira said the duo give his team "stability" and added: "Objectively speaking, I think this will give us the edge, because we have the experience of two experienced persons in track and field management, and we have the blend of younger ones… who are also involved in sports, and the interest, drive and passion is there.
"But these are all words, and words are free and cheap. It's the deed that counts. I don't want to make comparisons, but if you want to have a clean slate, where are you going to start? From ground zero? I don't know how the fraternity is going to receive this.
"Of course it is all new… so that means we have to start all over again, but in another 10 years, we will (still) be grooming up slowly.
"(On the other hand) We have history, we are in a hurry, but at the same time we will be measured in our approach."
His teammate Desmond Ong, chairman of Singapore Premier League football club Tampines Rovers, added: "We see ourselves as people who are continuing to build the path.
"We are just stewards at the moment, building this path. There has been a lot of good that has come in the past, notwithstanding the infighting, and it would be wrong for us to say we are coming in on a clean slate."
SA has been rocked in recent years by a number of issues such as infighting, legal woes and the poor performances of its athletes.
But Ang, a former national swimmer, took pains to point out the current management committee's achievements, highlighting that it managed to secure funding from national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) for its multi-year sports plan, up until 2024. The association has also fostered better relationships with the ground through regular dialogue with athletes, coaches and parents, he added.
Pereira, who said he was encouraged by several athletes and parents to run for the SA presidency again, added that its biggest challenge was to create a "conducive" environment for athletes, admitting the current climate of the sport is "murky".
This athlete-centric focus is what convinced former national sprinter and 100m record holder U.K. Shyam to join Pereira's team.
The 44-year-old, who was involved in several high-profile disputes with SA while he was an athlete, said: "We have many people from different fields, and we have athletes who have been through the system… so I think it's the balance and diversity in this team that makes us different.
"It's a good balance of a lot of people knowing what a high-performance set-up is like and what the local system is like."
Other individuals on TeamSGP Athletics' slate include Credit Suisse AG executive director Gerald Kua (vice-president, finance and partnerships), and Singapore Aeromedical Centre medical director and former Air Force Chief Medical Officer Dr Robin Low (management committee member).
If elected, Pereira said that his team would set up eight committees - overseeing areas such as athlete development, coaching and training, marketing and communications, and fundraising and sponsorship - to address issues within the local sport.
Correction note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct surname of Mr Desmond Ong. We are sorry for the error.