The Association For International Sport for All
Vice-Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy, Russia
Prof. Dr. Alfred Rütten
University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Good Morning. Thank you for inviting me to speak about the Sporting Singapore story with the IAKS Congress. It is my great pleasure to join my fellow presenters on the theme of Sports and Leisure Infrastructure Programmes. Singapore Sports Council, as the lead government agency responsible for sport development in the country, carries out the national planning for sport to be implemented on a local level.
2 Our sporting vision is not complicated. We want to see more people enjoying, playing, excelling and working in sports. This means developing capabilities, opportunities and access for people to remain active in sports at any age, at any level. Singapore Sports Council knows that not everyone in sports is going to reach the top of a podium. But we will have space on the board for everyone who wants to be there.
Content of Speech
3 This morning, I am going to share with you a little bit about Singapore, a little about our culture and a lot about the Singapore Sports Council, or SSC as we are more popularly known. SSC works along three major thrusts: creating opportunities and access for sports participation for all; building pathways to excellence for athletes, coaches and officials and developing sports business and industry to help grow self-sufficiency in the sporting sector. With everything we do, we are aiming to create a holistic ecosystem in sports.
Briefly on Vision 2030
4 Earlier this year, the Singapore Sports Council and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sport began an in-depth conversation with Singaporeans about the value of sports. We're exploring how sports can contribute to nation building, community bonding and people development in the next 20 years. We've called the initiative ?Vision 2030?. In the coming months, we will be producing a narrative for a future where sport is one of the cornerstones for life in Singapore.
5 If it sounds like little more than a paper exercise, I need to make it clear that Vision 2030 will drive systemic change in Singapore in the years ahead. It will change the way we use space. The way we share space. The way we develop sports programming. The way we use sport to develop our people and our communities.
6 Vision 2030 is also an example of the Singaporean can-do determination. If we commit to doing something, it becomes what we say in Singlish, as a 'die die' thing. This is our version of 'die trying'. If something is 'die-die', it means that failure to deliver is not an option.
Background on Singapore
7 I am going to take a little bit of time to speak a bit about the history and development of Singapore. You need to understand a little of where we came from - if you are to fully understand where we are as a sporting nation today and where we are going.
8 Geographically, the main island of Singapore sits one degree north of the equator in a narrow body of water known as the Straits of Singapore. It is a very small piece of the world, but it has always been a strategically important location.
9 As a city, Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles as a major entrepot for the British Empire. Singapore was a free port of call for British ships coming from India and heading to China and vice versa. As a country, Singapore became an independent nation on 9 August 1965.
Indicators on life in Singapore
10 Today, we are a modern, fast-moving, first-world city, but our original roots are firmly in place. Our population, for example, remains a mix of ethnic Chinese, Malay and Indian people along with expatriate professionals and foreign workers. We have four official languages: Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English, with English being the lingua franca for business. We live side by side in relative harmony, as you can see by our low crime rate. We also have a highly literate population and great medical care.
11 We are still a major entrepot. Our port remains one of the busiest in the world, and we are an important financial and business gateway to Asia. Changi International Airport is sees some 5900 flights a week.
12 Our government enjoys a surplus. Everyone, who wants a job, has a job, as you can see from the employment figures. Our business and economic stability have not resulted from chance. They are a result of long-term planning. Given Singapore's small land mass and limited natural resources, our government has always been focused on master planning and the need to create a legacy for future generations.
13 Legacy has influenced every important decision made by Singapore?s political leaders since independence. Education, housing, health, land use, fiscal management and so on.
14 For most of Singapore?s evolution as a country, it is fair to say that sport was not a priority for our government. Our early political leaders had too many other critical issues to deal with. However as we overcame challenges in education, housing and infrastructure, sports began to gradually rise in prominence.
15 In 1973 we opened the National Stadium - a project that took some six years to complete because our government would not assume debt to finance construction. Fiscal prudence has been one of our traditional hallmarks. Our policy to development has been pay-as-you-go.
Background on development of Sporting Singapore
16 Our sporting spirit grew, anyway. As I said earlier, we are a small nation, but we have celebrated sporting heroes every decade. As the sporting community grew, so did the understanding of what sport could do for Singapore. In June 2001, the government released a ground-breaking report by the Committee on Sporting Singapore (CoSS), a task force that had been formed the year before.
17 The Committee produced 40 recommendations on the creation of 'A Sporting Singapore' in 2001. CoSS stated unequivocally that sport could have a profound impact on the unity of our multicultural, multiracial communities and on our national identity and pride.
18 With CoSS, the government recognised that a new century was an opportunity to recreate the sports paradigm. The report called for extraordinary levels of policy support, programming and funding from a whole-of-government approach.
19 It became the blueprint for everything Singapore Sports Council and its partners have done in the past 10 years in sports for our current generation of young people.
20 The CoSS secured long-term public funding of more than S$800 million for sports development from 2001 to 2010.
- It opened up essential blocks of land - in land-scarce Singapore - for sports facilities and infrastructure.
- It resulted in youth athlete development pathways and improved performance at major games.
- It changed the way we perceived sport. Sport wasn't simply about becoming fit and healthy. It wasn't even simply about winning. We saw that sport could be used as a powerful agent for social and economic unity.
21 When my team and I at SSC sit down to plan for sports facilities and programming, we are most definitely focused on building places for people to exercise, play sports and unite as a community. However we also have to factor in another consideration: limited land resources. Thus, it is not surprising that we are dedicated forward planners.
22 For roughly the past 40 years, our basic rule of thumb has been: for every 250,000 people, we have built a sports and recreation centre, complete with a stadium, sports hall and swimming pool. Our network is significant. We now have a total of 20 sports and recreation centres across the island.
23 Our design strategies have changed significantly in the past decade. An SRC today is created on universal design principles. We incorporate inclusivity and an awareness of the environment. In 2009, we opened the new Sengkang Sports and Recreation Centre. It has multipurpose courts that you can book for badminton, volleyball or basketball. It has a fitness gym as well as food and beverage outlets. At SRC, we also feature a range of fitness classes and sporting activities, including swimming step aerobics, aqua aerobics, yoga, pilates and kick-boxing.
24 Sengkang SRC has an outdoor 8-lane lap pool, a sheltered lap pool, a Jacuzzi, a children?s teaching pool, a splash pool for families and a fun pool with three water slides. The cost of all-day admission during the week? One dollar and fifty cents. By any measure, it is a great deal for people. Of course, on the weekends, we charge more: two dollars. We believe we offer one of the best value-for-money leisure options in the city. And, oh yes, we have discounts for seniors and school children.
25 In all seriousness now, more than low cost, the SRC delivers inclusiveness for all. Built over five stories, the Sengkang SRC is accessible on every level by people with disabilities. While the facility has a lift, it also has gently sloping ramps that make it easy for people to negotiate from level to level. Even the swimming pools are accessible by ramp. The floor has been treated with tactile guides for the vision-impaired. The walkways are wide enough to easily accommodate wheelchairs.
26 Next week, we will be officially opening another new generation SRC in a community called Pasir Ris. Like Sengkang, this SRC has been designed to be user-friendly for all. However it also represents another upgrade in our planning - one that is aligned with our government's overall national agenda.
27 Singapore has been billed as Asia's greenest metropolis based on the Asian Green City index. Pasir Ris SRC is the first SRC designed to limit our carbon footprint. It has been designed with environmentally friendly and energy-saving features such
- as a rainwater-harvesting system to irrigate surrounding plant
- vertical 'green' walls and landscaping to reduce ambient heat and provide shading
- And solar panels for energy generation. Every centimeter of the roof is covered with the solar panels, which in turn generate electricity.
28 SSC has driven the development of sports safety frameworks and principles in the city. We strongly encourage staff and the public to train, play and compete responsibly. Our lifeguards at our pools and our trainers at our fitness gym are trained in CPR and the use of AED (Automated External Defibrillator) equipment, and they take refresher courses every year.
29 We do the training, because we know it can make a difference in lives. Often people will come to play sports or work out, and they will over-exert themselves because they haven't realized that they had an underlying medical condition. Our SRC staff has saved lives when people didn?t know they were at risk.
30 Our sports safety team has been a tireless campaigner across both the private and public sectors to educate people and raise awareness on the importance of sports safety. We tell the same story every time: sports safety must be a core value. However SSC is not the only provider of places to play sports. For example, there are over 100 Olympic swimming pools in Singapore and 1235 pools in total. According to the last census of facilities, SSC accounted for about 7% of all sporting facilities in Singapore; but some 11% of the population played sports at our facilities.
Sporting Singapore Partnerships
31 Most private condominiums and clubs have a variety of sports facilities - swimming pools, squash, tennis courts and so on. Our fellow government agencies also have places to play sports. The People's Association, for example, has facilities for basketball, badminton and table tennis. The National Parks Board provides for water sports at its network of reservoirs and parks. It also has a series of park connector lanes. Ideal for cycling, inline skating and jogging, these park connector lanes will encircle the island by 2015.
32 The Ministry of Education is our No.1 partner for delivering sports spaces and programming for youth. We know very well that today?s students will be tomorrow's sports consumers, practitioners and evangelists. They also will be our leaders in government, business and society.
33 The world my generation grew up in is very different from the world today. I suspect that everyone in the room has likely asked the following question: How can we engage our Gen Y's and our Gen Z's? At SSC, we believe the answer lies in sport. Young people learn about leadership, fair play, teamwork and commitment to a greater purpose - through sport. However it is essential that we work holistically with our fellow government agencies.
Focus on MOE
34 Singapore has some 360 primary, secondary and pre-university schools. With the advent of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, the schools added an Olympic Education module to the curriculum. Children and youth were taught about the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect.
35 SSC has continued to reinforce the best sporting principles through our pathway development programme for children and youth. This development programme provides opportunities for children to grow as athletes throughout their lives, beginning with our Fundamental Movement Skills guidebook for educators. So far, we have provided training for more than 1,000 preschool teachers in fundamental movement skills. We believe it is important to start children early on the path to physical literacy.
36 The MOE has partnered with the SSC on several initiatives to stimulate sports appreciation among our youth. In 2007, the SSC began an innovative sports funding programme for schools with the Ministry of Education, called the Sports Education Programme. SSC and MOE fund the cost of hiring service providers to introduce pre-screened sports programmes to schools. The schools are given full discretion to choose the programmes as long as they meet SSC guidelines on coaching qualifications and safety standards. For MOE, this adds diversity to the sports programming available to the schools. For SSC, it raises the quality of coaching, improves the safety of the environment and helps develop the market for sports service providers.
37 The MOE also came through with support for rising elite athletes in primary, secondary and tertiary schools. At the primary school level, the ministry established a series of Junior Sports Academies in 2008 that offered centralised training for talented athletes.
38 However my favourite project with MOE is the dual use scheme. Through this programme, MOE opens its fields and indoor sports halls for use by the community after regular school hours. In land-scarce Singapore, this greatly increases our bank of places for children and youth to play sports. So far, we have agreements on 50 free-to-play school fields, 45 sports halls and 85-fee-for-use fields. We continue to work out maintenance and repair issues with the schools - but it is worth the time and effort because of the impact it has on youth sports.
39 In 2010, Singapore held more than 600 sporting events, of all sizes, catering to people of all athletic abilities. The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games won the most publicity and had a tremendous impact on our people. Singapore 2010 ignited our excitement and national pride as a sporting nation. Across the board, Singaporeans were proud to welcome the youth athletes from the 205 National Olympic Committees. However there is more to the Singapore sporting story. We held professional marquee events throughout the year, supported by our sports business events team. Some 65,000 people have signed up to run the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore on the first weekend in December. We have come a long way from 2002 when Standard Chartered Bank sponsored its first marathon: only 6000 people signed up.
40 Of the 600 events, only about 40 were organised or funded by SSC. The remainder were grassroots initiatives, put together by passionate volunteers from schools, national sports associations and community-interest groups. Our sporting community has grown over the past decade for a few key reasons:
- Our government?s commitment to provide affordable, accessible places to play through the Singapore Sports Council
- The focus on standards to ensure that people are coached by professionals in safe environments
- The successful partnerships enjoyed by SSC and fellow organisations within government and the private sector to deliver sporting opportunities to Singaporeans.
41 The past few years have been extremely busy ones for SSC and its partners. And there is more coming. Last September, we began construction on the Singapore Sports Hub in the Kallang Riverside area of the city. Scheduled to open in April 2014, this sports-entertainment-leisure project will be a major catalyst for change in the sports sector in Singapore. At a compact 35 hectares, the Sports Hub will provide a new home for SSC, the Singapore Sports Institute, our 64 national sports associations - and our regional and international events.
42The Sports Hub will be an integrated land-water sports venue, unique in Asia. The new 55,000-seat National Stadium will feature a retractable roof and individually cooled seats. It will be capable of hosting international-class athletics, cricket, football and rugby. The Sports Hub will also have a 3,000-seat multi-purpose arena, a sheltered international class aquatics centre, an outdoor water sports complex and a refurbished 12,000-seat Indoor Stadium. It will be open 365 days a year, offering a range of international, regional and local sporting events and activities.
43 As a safe and cosmopolitan training haven for your elite athletes, an international sporting destination with a worldwide audience, a home for national sports associations and sport organisations, the Sports Hub will drive Sporting Singapore into new era of growth. It will open officially in April 2014. This is our die die date. Please save it in your calendar. I am ready to personally welcome you to the new Singapore Sports Hub.
44 Thank you very much for your time this morning. I wish you an enjoyable time at the Congress.