SINGAPORE - Sport Singapore (SportSG) will be expanding its ActiveSG academies and clubs to provide persons with disabilities (PWDs) with a more structured way to pursue their sporting interests and develop their skills from this year.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong made the announcement at the Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG) 2021 Awards and Appreciation Ceremony at One Farrer Hotel on Sunday (Feb 20), adding that more details will be revealed soon.
There are currently 20 ActiveSG academies and clubs across 20 sports and recreational activities here, including para-sports like cerebral palsy football and athletic programme for the intellectually disabled.
Mr Tong said: "We must continue to make para sports more accessible, and grow the talent base. The Government is committed to doing so, by giving every Singaporean the opportunity to engage in sports, and by devoting significant resources to quality broad-based programmes and infrastructure: sports stadiums, running tracks, and other venues.
"We will continue to work closely with schools, sports associations and private sport academies - this will allow us to foster a strong sporting culture in Singapore, and provide opportunities to for young talents who can be offered further pathways to develop their skills, and potentially go on to represent our country as national athletes."
Noting that the authorities must "have a clear eye" on the infrastructure and pathway for nurturing and developing athletes, he added that they will continue to provide elite athletes with "end-to-end support and development to maximise their full potential" through the spexScholarships and high performance sport system.
At the ceremony, six national athletes received a total of $3,600 for their performances at the AYPG last year in Bahrain, with cash awards sponsored by NTUC FairPrice Foundation.
Singapore's 13 athletes won five gold, three silver and two bronzes at the Games, which was the second highest haul from the AYPG. They claimed a record 18 medals (five gold, six silver and seven bronzes) at Dubai 2017.
Swimmer Colin Soon banked $1,500 for his four gold medals at the Games. Dedicating the award to his loved ones, coach and supporters, he said: "I feel happy to be appreciated and to be rewarded for my performances at the Bahrain 2021 AYPG.
"This is just the start of what I have set out to achieve and I am focused on achieving my goal of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. I hope that more persons with disabilities are encouraged to give sports a try and to lead an active, healthy lifestyle."
There was another piece of good news for disability sport as NTUC FairPrice Foundation announced that it will support the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC)'s AYPG Awards scheme through to Tashkent 2025.
FairPrice Group chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng stressed the importance of recognising the athletes' efforts and nurturing their potential, saying: "FairPrice Foundation has been a strong advocate in community building and empowering persons with disabilities through sports.
"This partnership with SNPC reaffirms our commitment. I wish all our youth para athletes every success in their sporting journey ahead."
With the July 23-30 Asean Para Games, July 28-Aug 8 Commonwealth Games and Oct 9-15 Asian Para Games coming up, SNPC president Teo-Koh Sock Miang hopes the AYPG experience will help spur the young athletes on to greater achievements.
She added: "We hope that they form the core of our next generation of athletes as they aspire to make the step up to represent Singapore at the other major games.
"We welcome NTUC FairPrice Foundation and thank them for being a part of the AYPG Awards scheme, ensuring that our youth athletes are rewarded for their achievements. SNPC relies on many stakeholders as partners in sport and with continued support, are confident that Team Singapore will experience success on the international stage."