Table tennis: Fretting over funding

Table tennis: Fretting over funding
Jonathon Yeo, Senior General Manager of Mitsubishi Electric, Chui Wing Hong, Senior Operations Manager of Mitsubishi Electric, Masanori Akamoto, Deputy Managing Director of Mitsubishi Electric, Lee Bee Wah, STTA President, Wong Hui Leng, STTA CEO and Eddy Tay, STTA High Performance Manager.

She was all smiles when she witnessed the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) ink a three-year, $300,000 sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi Electric on Sunday.

But STTA president Lee Bee Wah admits she is worried, with the Asian Games looming next year.

Funding is her concern, as the STTA plots another successful medal outing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Speaking to The New Paper, Lee, the MP for Nee Soon GRC, said: "We have a shortage of money every year and that's why we have to make up the difference from all these sponsorship deals.

"We get about 50 per cent of the funding that we require from SSC (Singapore Sports Council), the rest are from various sources - sponsorships, fund-raising golf (tournaments) and dinners."

"We have already cut down to the bare minimum, the number of overseas competitions this (fiscal) year," added Lee, on the sidelines of the national sports association's (NSA) inaugural Corporate League competition at its Toa Payoh headquarters.

While women's world No. 4 Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu, Gao Ning, Yang Zi, Zhan Jian and Li Hu are all part of the inaugural batch of elite Singapore athletes granted the Sports Excellence Scholarship, the STTA has yet to receive the associated funding.

MEETING

Lee expects a meeting with the SSC soon and believes the paddlers' 2016 Olympic Games campaign can begin in earnest after the funding kicks in.

Lee is concerned because the NSA has spent most of its annual budget for high performance - with the fiscal year ending in March 2014 - resulting in participation for tournaments from January to March next year being up in the air.

This despite the STTA having sealed $1.4m worth of sponsorship with 100PLUS, Grace Shine and Mitsubishi Electric this year.

The lack of funding for high performance is a speed bump in the paddlers' quest for glory at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, next September, which is an important stepping stone for the Rio Olympics.

Singapore won a women's team silver at the 2008 Olympics and bagged a bronze in the event last year in London.

Feng also won a bronze in the women's singles event at the 2012 Olympics. The STTA is aiming for a third successive medal outing at the Olympics in 2016.

But with likes of South Korea, Japan and Taiwan having already sent their players to numerous international competitions, and the imperious Chinese once again set to dominate the golds, Lee said: "The last Olympics was in 2012 and we've taken a whole year (to get this in order).

I think it can be further improved because we should be taking the full (four-year) cycle to prepare for the Olympics."


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