SINGAPORE - As those in the fitness and sports industry eagerly await the time when they will be allowed to reopen their businesses, they will be given support in the form of a new $3 million Enterprise, Innovation and Capability grant by national sport agency Sport Singapore (SportSG).
This was announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who delivered the keynote address at ExPro, a virtual fitness conference, on Thursday (May 28).
The grant is aimed at helping more than 20 sports enterprises capitalise on growth opportunities in the digital economy, which include the development and application of digital technologies for training sports professionals and upgrading their skills.
Those eligible for this grant include gyms, health and fitness studios, sports event organisers, event management companies, sports facility operators and private sports academies and clubs.
The grant will also help them build stronger digital capabilities, which have been in the spotlight with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.
Covid-19 and its attendant social distancing requirements have resulted in the closure of fitness facilities and programmes worldwide, forcing many operators to turn to the Internet to get their classes, products and messages across.
Ms Fu revealed that SportSG will also expand training opportunities for the sports fraternity, working with the national sports associations (NSAs) to do so.
More than 3,000 training courses will be rolled out by the end of the year, and they include coaching theory, sports technology and sports science.
It is also working to get these courses recognised for SkillsFuture Credits, and to allow participants to be eligible for training allowances.
Emphasising the importance of digitalisation for the industry, SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin, said: "Developing strong digital capabilities will enable the industry to enhance engagement of customers and harness the insights from data to better meet their needs and interests.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has given impetus to fast track these developments and SportSG is keen to work with industry partners for both near-term and long-term demand and opportunities."
All these programmes, added Ms Fu, are in addition to the $400 million that goes towards the funding of sport locally, including support towards NSAs, academies and clubs, and other programmes that support the ecosystem.
Addressing the 1,000-strong audience, which consisted of professionals and business owners, she acknowledged that "many of you are anxious to resume business operations as soon as possible", and gave the assurance that "we will continue to do what we can to support you and your business".
SportSG has already come up with several initiatives to help members of the sports and fitness industry who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, it launched the ActiveSG Circle, a virtual platform that connects private fitness instructors and freelancers with its 1.6 million ActiveSG members.
It also created 500 temporary jobs to help those whose livelihoods have been affected by the current situation. About 80 per cent of these vacancies have been filled.
There is also the Active Enabler Programme, where sports enterprises and fitness instructors are funded for projects that get Singaporeans to be physically active through digital platforms. Some 230 applications were approved and $2 million has been set aside for this initiative.
Ms Fu also pointed out that the Government had supported the broader economy too, spending nearly $100 billion on the Unity, Resilience, Solidarity and Fortitude budgets to help Singaporeans in the battle against Covid-19.
Noting that "the road ahead may be long and uncertain", she reiterated her call to those involved in the sports and fitness landscape to "take this time to become stronger, faster, better and more flexible".
She urged them to plan ahead, especially for the "new norm", when measures are needed to be put in place to "keep you, your staff and your clients safe".
She also advised them to be "nimble and adaptable to changing market conditions" which would help the sector "emerge stronger and regain the confidence of stakeholders".
SportSG also announced that Ms Fu would hold an engagement session with industry players via Facebook Live on Saturday at 8pm.