Keynote address by SNOC President at NSA Conference

27 Jan 2018


Friends and colleagues from the SNOC, SportSG and NSAs

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning.

It’s good to see so many familiar faces from our NSAs here this morning. Thank you for taking your time to be here. The purpose of today’s conference is to refresh some relevant topics related to running a NSA.

Our colleagues from SportSG and the SNOC will touch on issues such as governance and leadership, communication and major Games management. Mr Ng Ser Miang, who now sits on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee, will close the programme and address the roles and responsibilities of a NSA.

Some may ask why are SportSG and the SNOC organising this conference? In recent years, we have been on an upward trajectory in terms of our achievements. Our athletes are getting better, and meeting and surpassing the expectations set for them. With the government’s support and push, we are also experiencing growth in sports participation. Thus, we need to ensure that our support functions can manage the demands in high performance and the growth in participation.

As the demands become more sophisticated, we have also encountered conflicts and complications, which more than often are caused by lack of professionalism, inability to reach a resolution and improper management.

Therefore, we hope that by way of such engagement, we can help you to build a stronger system with robust SOPs and efficient process loops. We hope you can learn with an open perspective and look at how the application is relevant to your NSA.

For example, in terms of selection, does your policy spells out the criteria clearly? Do you communicate the selection information to the athletes in a timely fashion? Does your constitution impede your operations, and if so, is it necessary for you to review new changes with your constituents? Can your operations adopt a better system? Simply, can we do things in a more efficient manner so that we can harvest a better yield with the same resources?

We have seen more interest from athletes who are willing to serve. Some have already responded to calls to serve the Team Singapore contingents as chefs de mission, and have come onboard to serve on the SNOC Athletes’ Commission. We hope to see this trend continues, and encourage you to keep your doors open for your athletes to return to contribute. Harness their enthusiasm and make them allies of your sport.

Over the past few years, representatives from the SNOC Athletes’ Commission have met with some NSAs to encourage them to appoint an athlete representative in their sport. We would like to encourage all NSAs to have athlete representation in their set-ups, and this is something we hope to see in the near future. We believe that their involvement will enhance the communication process between the NSAs and the athletes, and help the NSAs to create athlete-centric policies, as well as make decisions with athletes in mind. This being said, I would like to see an athlete representation in the management committee of your NSA as an ex-officio member for a start. In time to come, your constitution will be amended to include the athlete representative as a full-fledged member of your committee.

We know that running a NSA with limited resources is challenging. Many of you have day jobs and are making sacrifices to represent your sport. We also acknowledge that you are fueled by passion and recognise your efforts in playing the role of an unsung hero.

However, what you do at the NSA has a direct or indirect impact on the lives of the athletes, coaches, officials, staff and volunteers. Hence, it is foremost that we take this responsibility and exercise it to the best interests of the athletes and the sport.

We must also never forget the reasons we serve. More importantly, we must put our best professional self forward when we are in the position to safeguard our athletes’ and NSAs’ interests.

Do note that there are resources available for you to tap on – SportSG which includes SSI and ActiveSG, and the SNOC including the STAC committee and the SNOC Athletes’ Commission – are ready to work with you any time.

I would like to thank our speakers for sharing their experiences and the participants who took time to be here today. I hope you are able to learn and bring back something useful to your NSA. I would also like to thank the staff of SportSG and the SNOC for organising the conference.

Lastly, I would like to end with a quote borrowed from swimmer Quah Ting Wen from her recent column in The Straits Times. Touching on how crucial the support team is to the success of our athletes, she wrote: “Swimmers are the ones standing behind the blocks on the day of their race, but we are buoyed by the people around us. It is a strenuous team effort by passionate individuals but, when all the small parts come together in unison, it is a beautiful thing that makes all the hard work worthwhile.”