06 March, 2017
The support of corporations have been vital to the extraordinary performance of Team Singapore in the previous Southeast Asia (SEA) Games and ASEAN Para Games (APG), and they will remain essential for Team Singapore's participation in this year's SEA Games and APG.
Ahead of the biennial multi-sport competitions, nine new companies have pledged their support for the Sports Excellence Business (spexBusiness) programme on Friday, bringing the network to a total of 39 companies from 22 different industries.
spexBusiness is a national initiative established by the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) in 2013, forging partnership with corporates to offer employment opportunities to national athletes so that athletes are able to strive towards the pinnacle of sporting excellence whilst preparing for a successful transition into life after sports. In recognising sportsmen as valuable human capital that bring quality values to their organisations, these companies have supported our athletes in various ways, including providing flexible work schedules and special leave.
Team Singapore netballer Kimberly Lim, who works at spexBusiness partner Deloitte, said, "I joined Deloitte when I was still a student and they offered me flexibility with work so I could actually juggle both sports, studies and work at the same time."
"After I finished my degree, they actually offered me a full time job. And with spexBusiness, Deloitte gave us (athletes) special paid leave for our competitions and training tours so we can actually focus on our sports still."
For Jasmine Yeong-Nathan, the flexibility and support given by her company KPMG was what made juggling both work and sports possible.
"It will be very difficult to continue bowling because as a consultant the hours are actually quite challenging. I have been very blessed to have a very supportive team to allow me to continue in my sport," said the national bowler. With the firm and the team being so understanding and so forgiving of my crazy schedule, it has helped me pursue my career even better."
Team Singapore athletes Neo Kah Whye (center) and Muhd Shahrizan (right) sharing their spexBusiness journey with Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. Photo: Sport Singapore
Cerebral palsy footballer Peter Kam echoed the sentiments of his fellow Team Singapore athletes.
"The spexBusiness programme has also helped to match athletes to suitable job placements. Thanks to the programme, I am currently working with Sports Link Holdings, who has been very supportive in helping me juggle sports and work at the same time."
This year will see Malaysia host both the SEA Games and APG, and companies have also stepped up their efforts to ensure athletes get all the training and support they need to do their best in the competitions.
"We have just gotten back from a tour in Auckland and I am very thankful to have a bunch of colleagues who readily help us ease back into work," said 22-year-old Kimberly.
TeamSG bowlers are also currently in the midst of intensive training, and with tournaments arranged leading up to the SEA Games, Jasmine’s firm has been very understanding of her dual commitments.
"We have a SEA Games training squad so there are a couple of tournaments leading up as well as training camps, and the firm is extremely supportive when it comes to my participation in the tournaments and training camps," she said.
Some spexBusiness partners such as adidas support the programme because their interests are aligned, and want to help develop a sporting culture among youths.
adidas Senior Director of Sales (SEA), Ng Chee Loon, pledging his support for our Team Singapore athletes at the coming SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games. Photo: Sport Singapore
"adidas, as you know, is a sports company. We believe in sports and we believe that sports can change people's lives," said Ng Chee Loon, Senior Director, Sales (SEA) at adidas.
"That is what we believe in... how we can give back to society, especially in the development of our young athletes to achieve their dreams."
Other partners such as OSIM International feels that by supporting and employing athletes, they are hiring role models that everyone can look up to.
"It's not just about nation building. I think athletes are the future for not just the industry they are in," said OSIM International Corporate Business Manager, Pek Wan Juan.
"They believe in high performance. They believe in healthy living. They are about living life well. This is indeed a worthy cause," she said.
"They epitomise high performance. Where else can you find a better calibre of people than that."
For the upcoming SEA Games and APG in Kuala Lumpur, three spexBusiness partners, namely adidas, Deloitte and OSIM International are leading the way in rallying Corporate Singapore behind Team Singapore, having pledged $70,000 in donations in support of our athletes’ pursuit for success at such Major Games.
"It is our little way to say that this is where we belong. This is the synergy that we will have. This is where we believe Singapore will go," she said.
"It's not about the number of banners we will have. It is about the spirit we will embrace that we will help to bring to the world."