Speech By Mr Lim Teck Yin, CEO Of Singapore Sports Council At The Health, Wellness And Nutrition Cluster Discovery Day 2011

07 Dec 2011

Mr. Seto Lok Yin, Deputy Principal (Industry Services)

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1 I would like to thank Republic Polytechnic for inviting me to be with you here today at the Health, Wellness and Nutritional Cluster Discovery Day 2011. Your theme of "Managing Health and Improving Quality of Life through Innovation" carries a lot of resonance with me for several reasons.

2 Over the past decade, the world 'as we have known it' has been changing at an extraordinary rate. Driven by innovation, many changes have made our lives much easier or at the very least more interesting. The smart phone. HD LCD technology. The WII. Energy Efficient Automobile Engineering. Guitar Hero. The IPAD. Barefoot running shoes.

3 Other changes are driving deep cause for concern. Newspaper headlines deliver the key issues almost every day:

a. We're looking at a silver tsunami from our rapidly ageing population. Our workforce is contracting with our fertility rate as the number of dependents on our tax system increases. By 2020, some 23% of our population will be retired, which means fewer people will be supporting the economy.

b. The long-term cost of affluent lifestyles is emerging in rising rates of obesity and related illnesses such as hypertension, arthritis and diabetes. Ironically longevity has been extended thanks to an improved healthcare system - but this should not be relied upon as a 'catch-all' safety net.

c. Singapore Inc is grappling with new challenges in staying competitive in a global economy: Surveys show that people do not feel connected to their companies or their jobs. How will we maintain our competitive edge in business without people who care about the firms they work for?

d. Singaporeans already work some of the longest 'work weeks' in the world. Coming in at an official 46.3 hours per week and probably even closer to 50 unofficially, how will the sandwich generation be able to handle the pressure of dealing with ageing parents and How can we find balance to "the rhythm of an urban lifestyle?"

5 These are all big issues. We cannot expect them to be resolved easily. The good news for Singapore? We are not alone. Indeed, we are more or less a proxy for the troubles being faced by all first-world nations.

6 Innovation is the key. But innovation on a large-scale can only be achieved through active collaboration. Now more than ever before in our collective history, we must be prepared to share knowledge, experience and experimentation if we are to navigate the increasingly complex challenges of modern life.

7 We must be prepared to collaborate with other agencies, other cities and other countries. In some instances, we may even have to collaborate without our competitors if we are to survive and thrive.

8 Thus, let me take a moment to congratulate Republic Polytechnic on signing the Memorandum with their three partners: NEC, Eu Yan Sang International and Renesas Electronic Singapore. I wish all of you a very successful journey ahead.

9 The signing of an MOU is never merely a paper exercise. It signifies how companies and institutions can leverage on each other's strengths to turn ideas into action. Over the past few years, SSC has chosen to pursue collaborations to help develop sports participation, excellence and industry. Indeed, the pillars of our success have been built on the years of collaboration with our network of partners.

10 Working with the National Sports Associations (NSA), Health Promotion Board (HPB), the People's Association (PA), Ministry of Education (MOE) and Republic Polytechnic, we have encouraged more people in Singapore to embrace sport as a way of life. We have more people playing sports, cheering from the grandstands and watching on television and investing in sporting events and sports business.

11 SSC?s collaboration with RP is one such platform that has benefitted both organisations in the pursuit of our respective missions. RP helps SSC to develop the high quality workforce for the sports sector of the future and conducts relevant research. SSC provides the relevant employment context to enable the students to engage in real and pertinent problem-solving. Currently, we have more than 30 RP interns working at SSC.

12 As the sports industry continues to grow, so will the demand for skilled and experienced professionals in sport. With the Sports Hub scheduled to open in April 2014, RP students will ensure a steady flow of trained professionals, in a prime position to reap the benefit of the sports industry in the next decade.

13 SSC recognises that we must broaden our understanding of our mutual needs and, in turn, our collaborative efforts if we are to achieve the breakthroughs we need for Singapore. In July 2011, SSC and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sport embarked on a consultative process with the people, public and private sectors, to define our sporting journey over the next 20 years.

14 Under the banner of "V2030: Real People, True Sports", we began exploring how sport can be used as a strategy to build our nation. We all have played sport for fun, for health and fitness, for competition. But Vision 2030 is pursuing something more.

15 Vision 2030 asks the fundamental question: how can sport help us live better lives? At SSC, we believe unequivocally in the power of sport to develop people of character and significance, people who can make a difference to the future of Singapore. However we have been talking to Singaporeans from all walks of life about their perceptions and mental models of how sport can define individual lives, communities, cities and nations.

16 Since July this year, we have met with students, parents, teachers, businessmen, senior citizens, MPs, to name only a few of our constituents The Vision 2030 dialogue helps others see the relevance of sports to their agendas and challenges. As we consider and envision the future, we pursue effective and enduring platforms to use sport in more holistic and fundamental ways in our lives. Among our fellow government agencies and our counterparts in the private sector, we want to see alignment, co-creation and co-ownership of the sporting strategy to develop Singapore. We believe that sport develops a winning spirit, a respect for teamwork, an appreciation for leadership and a love of country.

17 For Seniors, sport offers the promise of a happier life during the silver generation years. Seniors often suffer the loneliness of the empty nest syndrome. Though low-impact sports such as swimming and table tennis, our seniors can remain socially engaged. Through the development of Masters Leagues, elite can continue to play long past their prime competitive years. Additionally, Seniors can also use their sport skills in officiating and coaching. Sport is an opportunity to retain active social lives with friends and family.

18 For employers, aligning your corporate values with the best principles of sport can enhance your reputation. As companies cope with a shrinking workforce, a strong corporate sports league can help to attract and retain talent. Sport can bring together a multi-cultural workforce. Not only does it enhance your brand awareness, it builds trust within your communities - the one you employ and the one you serve. Through V2030, we want Sport to be embedded in the culture of an organisation, through its own corporate sport teams and through its corporate social responsibility programmes.

19 For working adults, sport can be the balance you seek from the inherent demands of your professional lives. Playing sports for your company team can improve your sense of connection to your firm. Sport can enhance your sense of self-worth and self-actualisation. With access to the SSC network of swimming pools, sports halls, gyms and stadiums, you can play almost anywhere, anytime. Maintaining an active sporting lifestyle will help you avoid the perils of weight gain and poor health later in life.

20 However corporates are also beginning to welcome sport into the workplace. The Workout Series @ Workplaces program, an initiative by HPB, SSC and Corporate Singapore is a good example of how teamwork can enrich the lives of professional women. Aimed at cultivating a sporting life among women in the corporate environment, the programme brings sport and fitness to the doorstops of the workforce.

21 It is specifically designed to facilitate the demands of maintaining a healthy and sporting lifestyle. By drawing on the strengths of our partners, we can create accessible spaces for our people to incorporate a sporting culture at the work place. As we align the different capabilities of various stakeholders, we can better formulate and manage the development of policies, programming and space.

22 SSC has also partnered MOE to deliver more spaces and programming to stimulate a sporting culture among our youth. Through the dual use scheme, MOE has opened its fields and indoor sports halls for use by the community after regular school hours.

23 This programme adds 50 free-to-play school fields, 45 sports halls and 85-fee-for-use fields to SSC?s vast network of Sports and Recreation Centres (SRCs).

24 Through the Sports Education Programme, SSC and MOE fund the cost of hiring service providers to introduce pre-screened sports programmes to schools. For MOE, the programmes increase diversity to the sports programming available to the schools. For SSC, it elevates the quality of coaching, enhances the safety of the environment and helps expand the market for sports service providers.

25 For our water sports enthusiasts, the National Parks Board provides its network of reservoirs and parks. Its series of park connector lanes is ideal for cycling, inline skating and jogging. In 2015, these park connector lanes will encircle all of Singapore.

26 Through sport, we can help our ageing population remain mentally and physically active. Together with our partners HPB and PA, we have supported various brisk walking sessions for our seniors. As we collaborate, we can provide them with a platform to maintain a fulfilling social life.

27 The spaces that we create for sport at our SRCs exemplifies today?s theme, "Managing Health and Improving Quality of Life through Innovation". Over the years, SSC has also incorporated feedback and views from various grassroots and other government agencies in our design and development of our sports facilities.

28 Through careful consultation and innovation, today's SRC has evolved into a one-stop community venue where residents come to play, cheer and bond, through sport. They are built on universal design principles, which helps ensure that everyone can come to relax with family and friends.

29 Internationally, our MOUs with China and Japan have enhanced our capabilities to build sporting champions for Singapore. Thus far, we have arranged several training missions in Badminton, Shooting, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Sailing and Water Polo. We aim to continuing strengthening our international collaborations through the Singapore Sports Institute and tie-ups with their counterparts in other countries.

30 Through our MOU with the State of Western Australia, we have enhanced our expertise in sports safety and we continue to set the standards and offer our knowledge in the local industry. Most recently, SSC and Event Queensland, organisers of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, have agreed to collaborate to enhance our commitment to organise a top-class marathon experience every year.

31 Today's seminar will allow participants to examine areas where we share common interests: health technology, nutrition and physical activities. RP?s commitment to fostering cross-disciplinary research between different schools is a fine example of how close partnerships can produce favourable results.

32 I wanted to highlight one of the sports related collaborations. As part of the Smart Shirt Project, students from the School of Information, the School of Engineering and the School of Sports Health worked hand in hand, bringing together their expertise in wireless engineering and sports science. Through teamwork and innovative thinking, students were able to develop an exercise monitoring device to track heart rate, temperature and the number of calories burned. I understand that this device tracks all three components concurrently whereas the units already on the market can only track one item at a time. So, congratulations to Team Republic. On a personal note, let me say that I am quite certain that I could use a device like this one.

33 Thank you for your time this afternoon. I would like to again encourage everyone here to join the conversation at www.vision2030.sg. V2030 wants to hear your ideas and feedback. Together, we can unite Singapore, through our partnerships for sport.

34 I wish all of you very insightful seminar ahead.

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