Since the onset of COVID-19, the sport industry has been greatly affected by the stoppage of regular business operations, competitions, leagues and spectator-centric events in order to abide by distancing measures. However, Sporting Singapore has proven its tenacity and relentless spirit time and again when faced with obstacles and challenges. 2020 is no different, and the sport community remains ever resilient and ready to face the future.
Over the past three days, more than 700 coaches, local and foreign, safeguarding officers, parents, sport administrators and students participated in the fourth edition of the CoachSG Conference. Based on the theme “Coaching Better Everyday: Think Global, ACT Local – Adapt, Create, Transform”, the virtual Conference saw keynote speakers and members of the sporting fraternity discuss the evolving landscape for coaching and coaching development locally and globally, as well as best practices to address the new demands in sport during our transition towards a ‘new normal’.
The relentless pursuit of “Better”
Coaches were urged to remain adaptive and resilient to the changing environment and to create new opportunities that could transform sport through constant innovation. Officiating the event as Guest-of-Honour, Mr Eric Chua, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, said: “As coaches, you need to be able to make sense of the evolving landscape of sports, learn from global best practices in coaching, and translate this into lessons that will shape the character, values and attitudes of those under your care. Beyond raising your capabilities as coaches, we also want to create a safe sporting culture for everyone. We recognise that this is a collective effort and MCCY and SportSG will work with the sporting community - the NSAs, coaches, athletes and volunteers, to promote Safe Sport.”
Keynote speaker and Chief of Sport for USA Volleyball Dr Peter Vint also reiterated the important role that coaches play in the development of our youths and spoke about the importance of remaining agile and informed about global best practices. He said: “The ultimate job of the coach is to make ourselves obsolete by helping athletes become more capable to independently understand their own performances and behaviours. Coaches must constantly seek ways to artfully blend the best of what science has to offer with the very challenges they encounter daily in order to unlock the best of what lies within each athlete.”
In his address, Mr Chua also emphasised the important role that youths play to enact positive change and inspire the next generation of sport. “We must not forget about our youths, who are the future of our country. SportSG will also be working with the different IHLs to promote coaching as a career (and) I hope to see many youths stepping forward to consider coaching as a profession and to inspire the next generation of children and youth athletes.”
2021 Safe Sport Plan
Chairman of the Safe Sport Commission, Ms Chan Yen San, together with panel speakers Ms Jennifer Teoh from the Ministry of Social and Family Development and Ms Lorraine Lafrenière from the Coaching Association of Canada, spoke on the detrimental impact of sport abuse and harassment, as well as the important role that coaches and safeguarding officers can play in supporting the victims of Safe Sport. The panel discussion also touched on the less overt forms of abuse and its psychological impacts.
“Everyone has a right to Safe Sport. We need to cultivate a strong culture where all members of the sporting fraternity are aware and actively involved to safeguard sport. In addition, there is an urgent need to put in place effective Safe Sport structures and policies to protect and support the victims. Awareness and education remain the cornerstone of ensuring the integrity of sport, and we encourage all coaches to lead by example in ensuring a safe and supportive environment for our athletes to unlock their potential and perform at their full capabilities,” said Ms Chan.
The plans include increasing the number of Safeguarding Officers in each National Sports Association by next year, collaborating with local and international sport partners to raise the standards of Safe Sport in Singapore through awareness programmes and discussion platforms, as well as launching Safe Sport online modules for coaches as part of the Coach Education Courses by end 2020. Modules for athletes, parents and sport administrators will follow in 2021.
As part of Sport Singapore’s effort to encourage continuous learning and innovation, a SportSG-ED portal will be launched by end 2020. It is an online learning management system that aims to provide all members of the sporting fraternity, including coaches, athletes and parents, with a suite of online modules from a range of topics such as coaching development, leadership and character development and Sport Science. Safe Sport modules will also be made available online to members of the sport fraternity to kick off the launch of the platform.
Head of CoachSG Mr Azhar Yusof said: “This new portal will enable all members of the sporting fraternity to learn and develop their breadth and depth of knowledge across various topics in sport at their own time and pace on multiple devices. Coaches may also use the portal to interact and share best practices within the social learning circle that will enhance the development of coaching standards in Singapore.”
This year, Youths from NIE and the Republic Polytechnic were invited to a panel discussion on “Creating Legacy Through Sport” where speakers – Academy Principal of PESTA Ms Melanie Ann Marten, renowned local Athletics Coach Mr Steven Quek, and Hall-of-Famer Mr C. Kunalan – discussed the aspirations and expectations when joining the sporting profession, as well as strategies to overcome possible challenges when preparing for a career in sport. Leveraging the wisdom and experiences of our coaches and sport educators, this panel discussion sought to inspire our Youths in their ambition to live better through sport and leave their own mark in sporting history.