Singapore sport: Confusion over One Team Singapore Fund

Para-athletes at the One Team Singapore Celebratory Parade in 2017. Several national sports associations said that the schedule for One Team Singapore Fund pay-outs had been unclear and felt that communication from Sport Singapore could be improved.
Para-athletes at the One Team Singapore Celebratory Parade in 2017. Several national sports associations said that the schedule for One Team Singapore Fund pay-outs had been unclear and felt that communication from Sport Singapore could be improved.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SportSG clarifies payout process, but initial lack of detail leaves some NSAs in a pickle

It has been a year since the One Team Singapore Fund (OTSF), which sees the government match donations - capped at $50 million - to local sports associations, was announced in Parliament but there is still confusion regarding the claims process with sports bodies yet to receive the extra funding.

Several national sports associations (NSAs) told The Straits Times that the schedule for OTSF pay-outs had been unclear and felt that communication from Sport Singapore (SportSG) could be improved.

It is understood that Singapore Sport Institute chief Toh Boon Yi had e-mailed the NSA chiefs on Thursday evening to clarify the timeline for the OTSF. He said yesterday: "The matched amount will be disbursed twice yearly alongside the annual grant for all NSAs.

"The first disbursement is scheduled for the first quarter of FY2018 (from April 1)... This streamlined process will also reduce the administrative burden on the NSAs."

Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) president Mathavan Devadas said: "This is the first time that we are hearing that the OTSF will be disbursed in two tranches over the course of the year."

Singapore Swimming Association vice-president (finance) Jose Raymond felt clearer details would have been helpful to all NSAs.

For the SHF, the issue is worsened by the fact it had used its own funds for some high-performance costs on the assumption that the shortfall would be covered by the OTSF. It submitted those claims to SportSG late last year.

TWO-STAGE PAYOUT

The first disbursement is scheduled for the first quarter of FY2018... This streamlined process will also reduce the administrative burden on the NSAs.

TOH BOON YI, Singapore Sport Institute chief, revealing that the matched amount will be disbursed twice yearly.

BETTER COMMUNICATION NEEDED

We've already spent some of this... We're concerned as the FY is coming to an end and we have to close our books.

MATHAVAN DEVADAS, Singapore Hockey Federation president, feels his association could have been better informed, as it had already used some of its own funds.

Mathavan said: "We've already spent some of this in the belief that our donations would be matched one-for-one. We're concerned as the financial year is coming to an end and we have to close our books."

The Singapore Sailing Federation has submitted a claim for funds to match a $10,000 donation it received from the Aloha Sea Sports Centre in November last year, with the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) also in a similar situation.

"To be honest, we've not received any money from the grant, and I've double-checked because we wanted to conduct certain programmes based on the fact that we were told we're guaranteed to get these funds to match donations that we've received," said SRU general manager George Danapal.

As a modest NSA with limited resources, any financial support is welcomed, said Singapore Modern Pentathlon Association president Tham Chen Munn.

He added: "We did highlight that we received donations last year, but we are not aware of guidelines to apply for the matching grant. But to be fair, we are a new NSA and there are several processes that we need to learn.

"The donation that we received is about $1,500. It's small, but for a struggling NSA that doesn't receive any funding from SportSG, it is a significant amount for us."

There is a greater worry for NSAs. Monday's 2018 Budget announcement saw the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's budget cut by 9.5 per cent.

Mathavan said: "I hope there won't be a reduction in our annual budget - in the sense that this one-for-one grant is included in our annual funding, instead of being in addition to those funds."


Clarification note: The Singapore Swimming Association has clarified that Mr Raymond was speaking in his personal capacity and his comments do not reflect the opinion of the association.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Confusion over matching fund'. Print Edition | Subscribe