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Enabling more Singaporeans to participate in sports, be inspired to excel and fulfil their diverse aspirations

Speech by Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development at the Committee of Supply Debate 2024


  1. Chair, sport is a great way for people from all walks of life – whether you are a senior, a youth, a person with disabilities, sport enthusiast, or weekend warrior – to bond and to stay healthy together. 

    Build better sporting facilities for Singaporeans

    Sports Facilities Master Plan
  2. Singaporeans lead busy lives. But we want to make it easier for everyone to make sport a way of life. Our ambition is for Singaporeans to be able to take a 10-minute walk from home to affordable sport facilities by around 2030. This is made possible through the Sport Facilities Master Plan (SFMP).
  3. Today, SportSG has built 10 Sport-in-Precinct (SIP) facilities with another 24 more projects in various development stages. These facilities are located conveniently within HDB estates and are free for use by all. 
  4. Mr Syed Harun highlighted the importance of sport in strengthening community ties and social cohesion. SIP facilities serve as organic nodes that brings the community together. From playgrounds for children, to sheltered courts for futsal or basketball, exercise stations with QR codes which you can scan to learn correct techniques, and rubberised walking track for seniors. There is something for everyone.
  5. More than 370 facilities including indoor sports halls and free to-play fields are also available under the Dual Use Scheme (DUS). In fact, there are over 40 free-to-play fields where Singaporeans can freely use on weekends. 
  6. This year, we also look forward to the opening of four new facilities, namely: 
    • The Kallang Tennis Hub;
    • The Kallang Football Hub; 
    • New basketball courts at the former Bedok Swimming Complex; and 
    • A facility for softball and baseball at Jurong East. 
  7. In the coming years, Punggol and Clementi residents can also look forward to new sports facilities:
    • At Clementi, there will be a new town playfield which includes a running track and community sport courts
    • A 5,000-seater stadium, swimming complex, 20-badminton-court-sized indoor sports hall, sheltered tennis and futsal courts, water sports centre, and an archery field are features of the new Punggol Regional Sport Centre.
  8. And we have been making our sporting facilities inclusive and accessible to Singaporeans of all abilities. 

    Support for vulnerable Singaporeans through sport

    Disability Sports Master Plan
  9. Mr Ong Hua Han emphasized that it is not enough to just make our sports facilities inclusive. We must help persons with disabilities feel empowered to exercise in mainstream settings. 
  10. I fully agree. Since the launch of the Disability Sport Master Plan (DSMP) in 2016, SportSG has introduced a range of programmes so more persons with disabilities can take part in sport. These include the learn-to-play programmes such as “Yes! I Can” and “Play-Ability”, as mentioned by Minister Edwin earlier, and an annual Play Inclusive campaign. And till date, some 20,000 persons with disabilities have taken part in these programmes.
  11. Our vision is for all persons with disabilities to be engaged, enriched, and empowered through sports. 
  12. To refresh the DSMP, we have convened a taskforce comprising stakeholders from SportSG, Ministry of Social and Family Development, SG Enable, Ministry of Education, and disability sports organisations such as the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) and Special Olympics Singapore (SOSG).
  13. To-date, the taskforce has engaged more than 600 stakeholders, received good inputs. In essence, the DSMP refresh will look to:
    • One, increase accessibility to disability sport activities and facilities; 
    • Two, enhance awareness of disability and inclusive sports opportunities; and
    • Three, help fulfil the aspirations of those who aspire to pursue sports at the high-performance level.
  14. We will share more in detail later this year.

  15. Sport is not only a great way to keep fit, but also builds character, transforms lives, and encourage social mixing.
  16. In particular, the SportCares programme seeks to harness the power of sport to provide access and opportunities for marginalised communities. ThroughSportCares initiatives and bursaries, children and youths from low-income families have increased access to quality sports programmes, such as athletics, basketball, water polo, and canoeing, and many others.
  17. To-date, the SportCares bursaries have enabled more than 480 children and youths to learn new sports. 
  18. In April 2023, SportCares also awarded scholarships to its first batch of students, and I would like to share how the scholarship has helped Hassan Shapiee.
  19. Hassan joined SportCares’ Saturday Night Lights (SNL) programme in 2017. SNL is a football programme for youths aged 13 to 21, to train regularly and compete in the HEARTS Football league throughout the year.
  20. Coming from a low-income family with his father as the sole breadwinner, Hassan is the third of five children and juggles part-time jobs to alleviate the financial strain at home. Other than studying, Hassan is also caregiver to his five-year-old younger brother.  
  21. During his time with SportCares, Hassan served as a responsible captain of his Saturday Night Lights team. As an alumnus, Hassan continues to give back by volunteering with SportCares, planning camps for students with special needs and children from low-income families. 
  22. He also participates actively in the SportCares Champions programme – a leadership programme for youths willing and able to step into the role of a leader and mentor.
  23. With the help of the scholarship, Hassan will complete his Diploma in Sustainable Built Environment at the Republic Polytechnic and he has plans to join the Police Force. 
  24. In his Budget speech last month, DPM Lawrence announced that the Government will match dollar-for-dollar, all donations to SportCares from April this year, onwards. We really hope that more Singaporeans and corporates will step forward to donate generously to SportCares.

    Uplifting Singapore football
  25. Chair, we know how passionate Singaporeans are when it comes to football, and how much we hope to see our national team succeed, both at the regional as well as international levels. 
  26. Mr Darryl David and Mr Faisal Manap asked for an update on Unleash The Roar! and the selection process for Singapore’s National Men’s Head Coach.
  27. The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is responsible for the promotion and development of the sport. This includes developing training programmes and the hiring of coaches.
  28. When selecting a National Head coach, FAS considers the following key attributes:
    • One, the candidate needs to demonstrate a track record of developing players and have a robust strategy in preparing and fielding a team to achieve results. Apart from the National “A” team, the candidate would also supervise the Under-22 team together with the Under-22 Head Coach.
    • In addition, the candidate is expected to uplift the football ecosystem, impart knowledge, and raise the overall profile of football. 
  29. FAS has gone through a rigorous process to find a new head coach. Let us give our new national coach some time to find his footing and hopefully make his mark with the national team.

    Unleash The Roar!
  30. To be sure, we are playing the long game to uplift Singapore football. We launched the Unleash the Roar! (UTR!) in 2021. We have made steady progress to strengthen our football ecosystem locally. 
  31. A critical part of this is developing a structured football development system so that we can raise the standards of Singapore football at all levels.
  32. I would like to share at this juncture, a few updates.
  33. We now have 15 School Football Academies (SFAs), of which 5 have dedicated programmes for girls. We have also doubled the number of young footballers from 300 youths in 10 pilot SFAs in 2022 when we started, to over 830 male and female young footballers this year.
  34. We have also set up and since sent our National Development Centre (NDC) teams and a combined SFA squad overseas for training camps and competition opportunities, to expose them to quality competition they can’t find locally, and to further their development.

    Singapore Youth League
  35. Just last month, we launched the Singapore Youth League (SYL): our inaugural nation-wide high-performance youth football competition.
  36. The SYL provides aspiring youth players a regular and competitive platform to gain match experience and develop their football skills. Through this league, we hope to further strengthen a robust talent pipeline of next-generation national team players.

    UTR! Scholarships
  37. Last year, we also sent our first batch of eight young footballers on UTR! Scholarships to study and train overseas at world-renowned academies — the IMG Academy in Florida, USA and the ESC LaLiga in Madrid, Spain.  
  38. Chloe Koh, one of our scholarship recipients,
    • Is now at the IMG Academy in the U.S. Her near-term goal is to play in the NCAA Division 1 and ultimately, she wants to play professionally. 
    • As an introvert, Chloe had to step out of her comfort zone when she first arrived in the U.S. After a few months however, she has quickly adapted. 
    • At IMG, Chloe gets to travel to different states in the United States, play in tournaments and showcase her skills to college scouts, who are proactively seeking out young talents and potentially bringing them a step closer to their dream of turning pro. We wish Chloe and all our UTR! scholars currently overseas, all the best.

    Enhance support for TeamSG athletes
  39. Chair, our Team Singapore athletes continue to inspire Singaporeans as they shine on the world stage. This is only possible with a strong support system backing them in taking their sporting goals to the next level. 
  40. Our high-performance sport (HPS) system is dynamic and athlete centric. Each athlete is supported in a holistic and personalised manner.

    Sport Medicine Support
  41. The Singapore Sport & Exercise Medicine Centre (SSMC@SSI) provides personalised sport medicine care for our athletes. Such support include: 
    • comprehensive medical screening focusing on both physical and mental health; 
    • support for athlete recovery through physiotherapy and exercise rehabilitation; and 
    • integration of medical care with sports sciences.
  42. Athletes are covered by a medical insurance policy that allows athletes to claim for in-patient treatment or surgery for accidental sports-related injuries not covered by SSI or SSMC@SSI.
  43. To Ms Sylvia Lim’s question or suggestion regarding former national athletes, our consistent approach is to support our athletes’ transition into retirement from their competitive sporting careers by helping them find good employment. Active and retired athletes can also tap on various programmes including spexEducation and spexBusiness, as elaborated by Minister in his speech earlier. But we will explore how we can support them better. 

    Funding of NSAs
  44. On the funding of National Sports Associations (NSAs), there is no change to the policy and requirements that NSAs must meet to qualify for our funding.
  45. Besides the mandatory annual submission of audited Statement of Accounts to SportSG, NSAs are also required to allow SportSG to audit their Accounting Records. 
  46. If an NSA is found non-compliant with the terms of its funding agreement, SportSG will take appropriate action, such as suspending, terminating, or even recovering the grant. For more serious cases such as misappropriation of funds, SportSG would refer these to the Police.
  47. We have also previously explained how we allocate our funding across the NSAs. That has not changed.
  48. SportSG’s annual grants to NSAs help to support their organisation functions, outreach programmes, training facilities, and High-Performance Sports (HPS) plans.
  49. Annually, the level of funding is assessed holistically, considering a few factors, such as:
    • its alignment with SportSG’s Vision 2030,
    • whether it has achieved agreed KPIs, 
    • its capabilities in governance and execution, 
    • and the existence of a sound plan for the development of the sport overall.

    Support for Emerging Sports
  50. For emerging sports that do not receive support from an NSA funded directly by SportSG, Mr Darryl David and Mr Mohd Fahmi asked about how we can support aspiring athletes in these fields. 
  51. We recognise that our athletes in emerging sports such as powerlifting and pickleball have performed well internationally. We are all very proud of them. 
  52. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that the One Team Singapore Fund (OTSF) will be expanded to support the Athletes’ Inspire Fund (AIF).
  53. The AIF provides funding support for athletes who represent Singapore in emerging sports. Athletes can apply as individuals or as a team.
  54. The funding support may cover cost items such as airfare, accommodation, registration fees, visa fees, travel insurance, and equipment.
  55. There will be three applications windows each year, in March, July, and November. Applications for the March window will be from 1st to 31st March, so please start applying.

    Support for coaches
  56. Another key component of our athlete support system are our coaches. Ms Jean See will be pleased to know that we are looking to upskill and professionalise exercise, sports, and outdoor adventure coaches and instructors, which in turn could increase their wages that is commensurate with their skillsets. 
  57. For exercise professionals, SportSG will be instituting an accreditation framework under the National Registry for Exercise Professionals (NREP) in a later phase, and we welcome inputs from NICA. 
  58. Ms Jean See would also understand that the exercise, sports, and outdoor adventure sectors are diverse with niche offerings, and therefore it is difficult to introduce a cost norm. However, we will continue to engage coaches to better understand their challenges and explore ways to further support them.   
  59. For example, in the outdoor adventure sector, the Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE) council is working on a capability development roadmap that will look into the salary and renumeration challenges for full-time and freelance OAE professionals. We are open to see how SkillsFuture can further support their professional development, and the OAE Council will also be looking at having more sites and facilities with affordable access.
  60. Chair, in Mandarin please.
  61. 体育让我们保持身心健康,也是塑造品格、改变生活、和促进社会交流的途径之一。
  62. 政府通过《新加坡体育学院》和《体育俱乐部》, 支持来自不同背景的儿童和青年参与体育活动。其中,新加坡体育学院的《体育关怀》SportCares计划致力于为边缘群体提供参与体育的机会。
  63. 通过"体育关怀"助学金,来自低收入家庭的儿童和青年有更多机会参与优质体育活动。项目包括田径、篮球、足球、曲棍球、水球、划船和乒乓等等。
  64. 到目前为止,"体育关怀"的助学金已经让超过480名儿童和青少年学习新的体育项目。我们希望更多新加坡人和企业能够慷慨解囊,积极捐助于"体育关怀"计划。
  65. Chair, 
    • Through sport, we can grow closer as a community.
    • Through sport, we can improve our health and instil a sense of confidence.
    • Through sport, we can inspire a nation to go beyond our limits.
  66. In conclusion, sport can clearly enrich and empower our lives. So, I hope to rally all Singaporeans to take action today and let’s all live better though sport.
  67. Thank you.
Last updated on 07 March 2024