Singapore Shooting Association Aiming for Gold
TSL speaks to Michael Vaz, President of the Singapore Shooting Association about his tenure, thoughts on high performance and capability development and aspirations for the sport.
Michael Vaz Background
- Born in Singapore and schooled in St. Joseph’s Institution
- Served National Service as a Sniper
- Graduated with Bachelor of Comm, Finance and Economics degrees in Canada
- Worked in Canada and US after graduation; and returned to Singapore in 1990
- Managed a Private Equity Fund as Managing Director of John Govett Asia Ventures
- Started own shop, Clarendon Management, in 1998
TSL: Besides Shooting are there any other sports or hobbies that you do/follow?
I have a farm in Australia where I breed Angus Cattle. There is also a tiny hobby vineyard on the farm where my family and I bottle two barrels of Pinot Noir each year. Our wine is not for sale and is shared as gifts with our friends and guests.
I love flying and will fly anything with wings and an engine. I am an instrument rated pilot with ratings in multi-engine jet, turbine helicopter and multi-engine prop. I own and fly a Marchetti S211 military jet trainer, Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel helicopter, Cessna Citation CJ business jet. My helicopter is based on my farm which enables us to cover long distances in a fraction of the time it takes to drive the vast distances in Victoria, Australia.
My son is a licensed pilot and besides flying together, we enjoy riding our enduro motorcycles in our own 7mile enduro track on our farm.
When I am in town, I walk and carry my golf bag for a nine-hole golf game twice a week.As a family we like to hike in the hills surrounding our farm near Melbourne, the hills near our home in Beverly Hills and the old railway line in Singapore.
TSL: Since you’ve taken up the helm of the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) in mid 2013, what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your tenure and how have you overcome them?
As President, I had to decide whether I would keep the status quo and keep everybody happy; or right all what I perceived to be wrong and upset the many fiefdoms that would fight me to protect their self interests within the shooting fraternity.
My executive council supported my mission and we have been the target of numerous disruptive actions to destabilize SSA initiatives . We held the course and we are seeing the results of our vision. The results of Team Singapore Shooting since we took office speak for themselves.
TSL: What are some of the capability development focused initiatives you’ve implemented for the association
Fair and Transparent Athlete Selection
I am adamant that athletes must be selected on achieved scores and not coaches’ recommendations. All Team Singapore members are selected on their recent scores achieved in competitions.
When I was in the National Shotgun Team, we abhorred what we used to call the “Point System”… Selections based not on scores but someone pointing at whom they liked to be on the team.
SSA makes our athletes, coaches and support staff accountable for their performance. SSA sets KPI’s and closely monitors them to make sure all funds from SportSG are expended in the most cost effective way.
More than $2 million was spent on upgrading the ranges at the National Shooting Centre to meet the new ISSF ETS (Electronic Target Systems) range specifications for the SEA Games. Olympic events rely on ETS to run a finals event to decide the winners and their rankings.
I think our team did well considering they only had six months to practice on an ETS range.
TSL: Team Singapore Shooting did well at the recent SEA Games 2015 (five gold, nine silver medals and seven bronze medals for a total of 21 medals) - what are your thoughts about the achievements and what are your expectations for Team Singapore Shooting going forward?
If you understand the Finals Event, every silver medalist was fighting it out for Gold. Every bronze medalist and 4th place shooter was a Gold medal prospect. The Finals shoot off determines the ranking. With more Finals practice, our shooters could have done better. We basically had 21 chances at Gold Medals which were decided in the Finals on ETS Ranges
SSA has a strong development programme and we are monitoring several up and coming shooters who need better equipment. We are constantly looking for ways to get the best equipment and training for our shooters. Budget constraints forces us to live with compromises.
TSL: Shooting is one of the 15 sports at the 8th ASEAN Para Games taking place in December - are there any initiatives that SSA will be involved in to that effect?
We are proud that Aishah Samad will be shooting for Singapore. Her story is truly inspiring and I hope it inspires other Singaporeans not to give up no matter what their circumstances. I believe there is an initiative to get Aisha and Jasmine (Ser) together to inspire other Singaporeans.
TSL: Lastly, what are your personal aspirations for Singapore for sports and as a nation?
When the last SSA President Chng Seng Mok nominated me as his successor, I made it my mission to bring home an Olympic Medal in Shooting. As an NSA, we do all we can to help our athletes achieve sports excellence. I believe that NSAs should do more for their athletes to improve their prospects in life after sports. It is my hope that Singapore will someday develop a Sports Based Industry that will support athletes after their life as an athlete is over.