Thursday 20 March 2014

SSC revamps itself as Sport Singapore

SSC makeover includes community focus and new name
By May Chen, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2014 

THE Singapore Sports Council (SSC) is giving itself a facelift, as part of efforts to better reflect its ambition of nurturing a sporting Singapore.

Sport Singapore, as the organisation will be known from next month, will continue to manage the nation's elite athletes but at the same time pay greater attention to getting locals engaged in sport.

Going beyond just an aesthetic change, the rebranding exercise is aimed at shedding the national sports agency's image of governance and aligning itself more closely with Vision 2030, the blueprint for Singapore sport.

"We do have a role when it comes to the investment of public funds in sport," said SSC chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin on Monday.

"But larger, and just as important, is how we empower our partners.

"Everything we do is through sport and not for sport, and it's focused on serving a community.

"The (new) name connotes a sense of community, partnership and vibrancy. Those are all the elements in Vision 2030."

The announcement of the agency's makeover comes a week after details of the rejuvenation of Singapore's sporting facilities were unveiled by Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in his ministry's budget debate last week.

Under the first phase of the Sports Facilities Master Plan, $1.5 billion will be committed to put the majority of Singaporeans within 10 minutes' walk to a sports venue for play and exercise.

Added Lim: "Just building hardware alone is not going to enable Singaporeans to play more sport and lead active, healthy lives."

It is why the rebranding is taking place in the same month as the launch of ActiveSG on April 26 at Jurong West Sports and Recreation Centre.

Billed as a national movement, ActiveSG is drawn from the idea of Super Sports Clubs and aims to give Singaporeans more access and opportunities to play sport in an affordable way, regardless of their skill levels.

The free membership will give citizens and Singapore permanent residents the ability to participate in sport across five zones island-wide (Central, East, North, North-east and West).

They can also go on to represent their respective zones in leagues and competitions, and could even get a chance to represent Singapore.

The launch will be followed by a series of zonal outreach efforts, sports festivals and competitions across the country.

The multi-million-dollar initiative will include the revamping of several older facilities to introduce outdoor gyms, aqua gyms and other social spaces.

Said Lim: "Over time, we hope to (help people) build affinity to a particular zone but we want to allow that time to evolve. The whole idea is to provide people (with) incentives that will enable them to overcome any inertia they might have.

"We want to make this national movement something that Singaporeans own, that they feel they can enjoy and be a part of. You don't just play in a competitive sport only if you're very good."

SSC to allocate S$80.77m to National Sports Associations this year
By Patwant Singh, Channel NewsAsia, 18 Mar 2014

National Sports Associations (NSAs) in Singapore will receive more funding from the government this year as they gear up for next year's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, to be hosted in the country.

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) announced that S$80.77 million will be given out to 49 NSAs, up from S$70.87 million disbursed last year.

The increases are mainly due to a new fund to encourage innovation, the Spex Scholarship programme for elite athletes, and one-off funds to help them prepare for major competitions such as the SEA Games.

SSC also announced it will be rebranded as "Sport Singapore" from April 1 this year.

The rebranding is aimed at reflecting the organisation's efforts to empower people to live better through sport and to help bring sport into the lives of all Singaporeans. 

The 49 NSAs are set to benefit from the increased funding, which includes cash and other grants that help cover the costs of facilities and athlete development.

SSC has also announced new practices aimed at reducing the paperwork for NSAs. For example, the funds will now be disbursed on a half-yearly basis instead of each quarter.

"What it has allowed us to do is make the processes less onerous, but at the same time it allows a lot of flexibility in how we manage our own funds, while maintaining the regulations that are required for funding from the government,” said Edwin Ker, executive director of Singapore Swimming Association.

NSAs will also be given greater autonomy in how to allocate funds, without having to seek approval from the SSC.

Another new element is a S$25-million Innovation Fund, to be extended over five years, aimed at encouraging the use of new technology and processes to boost sports performance.

"Rugby has plans to use the GPS tracking system for sports and exercise conditioning, which is a very innovative approach being used by the top rugby teams of the world in terms of tracking the exercise condition of their players, and also at the same time tracking when they peak and when they should be substituted in the match,” said Low Teo Ping, president of Singapore Rugby Union.

The SSC also announced plans to partner NSAs and other organisations to launch a new national programme to make sports accessible to all age groups and demographics.

Called ActiveSG, it is expected to provide innovative and affordable programming for Singaporeans, and will also revamp existing sports facilities to encourage more people to use them.

Lai Chin Kwang, chief of Sports Club Group at SSC, said: "Our facilities actually engage them by having, for example, a gym beside the pool -- so now you no longer go to a pool to just swim, but you can also go to a pool to do a workout, because there is a gym there.

"And you can also go to a pool to have a barbecue… so you can have a social gathering there and at the same time have sporting activities.” 

Membership to the ActiveSG programme will be through a virtual card that allows access to all ActiveSG Sports Centres, formerly known as the SSC’s Sports and Recreation Centres, around the island.

More details will be announced at the official launch of ActiveSG on April 26 at Jurong West Sports Centre.

The ActiveSG Sports Festival will also be held, where members of the public can compete in the sports on offer.


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