$80m boost for sport

$80m boost for sport
Lim Teck Yin, Singapore Sports Council (SSC) chief executive officer.

SINGAPORE - National sports associations (NSAs) will be armed with more financial muscle as they prepare their athletes for next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games and ASEAN Para Games, which will be held here.

In a briefing at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday, Singapore Sports Council chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin revealed that a sum of $80.77 million has been allocated for various sports programmes, an increase from the $70.87million announced last year.

Besides annual funding for NSAs, the new sum will support three other major platforms - campaign funding for the 2015 SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games; the spexScholarship programme and the new Innovation Fund for groundbreaking initiatives.

The 2015 campaign fund is meant mainly for non-spexScholars.

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Said Lim: "The spexScholarship was designed such that even when we support people at the SEA Games level, these athletes have potential at higher levels.

"There are other athletes who have SEA Games medal potential but actually do not have potential beyond (that)... but it is important to support them for the SEA Games."

The SSC is looking at backing more than 200 athletes with this new funding support, who will have to train full-time for six to 12 months from June this year.

Already, 26 sports have shared their preparation plans for the 2015 Games with the SSC.

Working adults will be compensated up to $2,500 a month under the enhanced Grant for Loss of Wages, while students will get up to $800 under the Training Assistance Grant.

Athletes in team sports will be funded full-time only if there is a "critical mass".

Athletes who cannot train full-time will still receive support in coaching, training programmes and competitions.

The spexScholarship fund of $40million kicked in last year and will be used to support athletes with the potential to win at major Games and world championships, and also give a boost for athletes who are potential spexScholars.

Referring to this year's selection process, Lim advised those who have the talent and dream big to apply for the spexScholarship, instead of the funding set aside for the two big Games in 2015.

He revealed that 59 of the 64 athletes selected for the first batch of spexScholars - a sailor and a shooter have dropped out of the initial list of 66 - have accepted, with 12 of 15 sports already running the associated programmes.

The remaining three sports will start their programmes next month.

In addition, NSAs may utilise the new $25 million Innovation Fund, introduced by Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, at the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament last week.

That sum will be spread over five years.

The SSC has met with more than 40 NSAs over the initiative but have not received any proposals so far.

Lim explained that the proposals should be "game changers" to bring a particular sport to a higher level.

He said: "The innovation fund is not just about funding ideas, because ideas are plenty.

"Some of these ideas we can fund under the SSI's (Singapore Sports Institute) research grants, (such as) high performance instruments that will change the capability of national teams."


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