$25m fund sparks off bright ideas

SEA Games champion Saiyidah Aisyah is keen to suggest ideas gleaned from her recent training stint in Japan, such as a land-rowing machine which can predict actual performances on the water.

SINGAPORE - The carrot of a $25 million "ideas fund" - announced by Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday - has prompted national sports associations (NSAs) to come up with new game plans to reinvigorate their sport.

The Singapore Rugby Union, for instance, is looking to tap the fund in two areas - to improve performances on the playing field and develop a sustainable international-level event.

Its president Low Teo Ping told The Straits Times yesterday: "I think this is a tremendous boost for NSAs in terms of thinking outside the box and working towards sports excellence.

"One area we are looking at is pioneering certain technologies to improve the performance of our athletes, such as global positioning system tracking for sports and exercise science, which tracks a player's fitness levels during a match.

"Another area will be to develop a global rugby competition, which we can call our own. We want to bring international rugby to the local scene which will help develop the sport in Singapore and also in the region."

The $25 million, which will be spread over the next five years, is separate from the annual grant that the NSAs get each year.

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) declined to reveal specific guidelines but said that more details will be released next week.

According to the SSC website, there are 64 NSAs. The Straits Times understands that the SSC is briefing them on what an innovative programme entails.

It is believed that hosting an existing world event would not fall under this category.

But creating a regional junior tournament to blood young talent will score brownie points.

Singapore Floorball Association (SFA) president Sani Mohd Salim said his team is looking at holding coaching seminars when the country hosts the World University Floorball Championships from June 18 to 22.

"While there is no confirmation that floorball will be at next year's SEA Games, we intend to bring coaches and officials from around the region here for coaching seminars, in order to develop the sport," he added.

"We also want to organise a South-east Asian floorball championships at the end of the year."

National athletes welcome the opportunity given to the NSAs to do more.

Said rower Saiyidah Aisyah, who won a SEA Games gold in Myanmar last year and trained with members of the Kyoto University Rowing Club during a recent trip to Japan: "I'm keen on providing ideas and giving suggestions.

"I learnt a lot during my stint in Japan, ideas which could be implemented here in the Singapore rowing scene.

"For example, there is a machine in Japan which is able to predict how we will perform on water based on land exercises."


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