By John Yeong
Singapore, 15 March 2013 - Singapore’s quest for sporting excellence received a major boost today after the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth announced plans to provide a comprehensive support system for the country’s elite athletes. Termed as the High Performance System (HPS), the programme will provide comprehensive coverage for the athletes that include financial and programmatic assistance for education, career, and personal development.
Under this new scheme athletes with high potential will be eligible for the Sports Excellence (SpEx) Scholarship, which provides an enhanced level of support that includes living allowances. The programme, which is more inclusive and takes the place of its predecessor The Olympic Pathway Programme, will also allow a bigger pool of athletes to receive the support they need to excel.
One such athlete likely to benefit immediately from the programme is Team Singapore canoeist Geraldine Lee who took four months of no-pay leave from her job as a contract executive at the Land Transport Authority in 2011 in order to train and prepare herself for the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia.
Citing Geraldine as an example in his speech at the Committee of Supplies debate, Mr Lawrence Wong indicated that athletes like her who made personal sacrifices would be able to “train full time with less financial worries under the HPS, extend the lifespan of their sporting careers and realise their full potential in the international sporting arena.”
More than simply providing better support for the athletes, the Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth also reiterated his desire for Team Singapore’s athletes to serve as sports ambassadors and role models to inspire and motivate other Singaporeans to live better through sport.
The HPS is expected to benefit 1,000 national athletes annually, with comprehensive support that includes training and competition, coaching and sports science and training allowance extended beyond those who are under the SpEx Scholarship. The scholarship will cost approximately $40 million over five years and will provide for about 50-60 athletes across various sports disciplines.