New Singapore body to benefit women in sport

Teoh heads committee under SNOC that includes current and former female athletes

When Teoh Chin Sim attended the first Afro-Asian Women and Sport Forum in Kuwait in 2013, she was seated between a delegate from Somalia who worked with refugees, and one from Timor Leste who was a freedom fighter.

Her interactions at the conference and experiences at various international meetings on the Women In Sport movement over 25 years cemented her belief that female athletes in Singapore would benefit from having an organisation that they could turn to.

That belief bore fruit last month when Teoh, Singapore's first female sports medicine specialist, was made chair of the newly formed Women In Sport Committee, under the auspices of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).

She was previously the secretary of the defunct Women and Sports Working Group, formed under the Singapore Sports Council (now Sport Singapore) in 1999.

"I've asked many women and girls how a committee like this could be of service to them, and there are many ways," explained the 54-year-old Teoh.

"For example, some athletes have to juggle their school (work) or careers, some have children, and they try to soldier on.

"Some have mental stress or depression, from the pressures created by demands and expectations of themselves, the country, their teams, their national sports associations, and so on.

"They are looking for a means of helping themselves, and this is one of the areas we hope we can help."

The committee has nine members, including current and former national athletes like bowler Shayna Ng and ex-swimmer Joscelin Yeo.

The committee aims to work with other organisations to "develop policies and implement strategies" in six areas: leadership in sports, mentoring, health and nutrition, safety, education and research, Teoh said.

"(In the) long term, we'd like to see more women coming up to serve in leadership positions, as well as in other positions within sports like officiating, umpiring, coaching and judging," added Teoh, who has served as Team Singapore's chief medical officer at several major competitions, including the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

She felt every member of the committee "brings something to the table", such as Yeo, who is a church counsellor, and national women's rugby sevens coach Wang Shao Ing, who practised law for 10 years before focusing on rugby-related activities.

GREATER CLOUT

(In the) long term, we'd like to see more women coming up to serve in leadership positions, as well as in other positions within sports like officiating, umpiring, coaching and judging.

TEOH CHIN SIM, chairman of the Women In Sport Committee.

Wang, who is on the World Rugby women's advisory committee and Asia Rugby's judicial panel, said: "Dr Teoh has a vision where we can perhaps increase accessibility to sports for girls or support those already in sports, and our collective experiences will hopefully see us able to contribute to that."

Former national swimmer and Brazilian jiu-jitsu exponent May Ooi, who worked closely with Teoh to set up the committee, said female athletes have "unique needs" which she hopes would be served with the creation of the committee.

"We wanted to set up a safe space so they would always have a resource body to turn to," said Ooi.

"I also hope we are able to mentor female athletes to help them have a smooth transition from sports to working life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'New Singapore body to benefit women in sport'. Print Edition | Subscribe