New Singapore Athletics leadership encounter ‘many sleepless nights’ but determined to succeed

New Singapore Athletics leadership encounter ‘many sleepless nights’ but determined to succeed

SINGAPORE – After decades of local track and field under-performing on the regional and international stage, it is no surprise newly-elected Singapore Athletics (SA) chief Lien Choong Luen and his team have been in a hurry.

Less than six weeks after Lien and his full slate of nine were voted in as SA’s new management committee (MC) on Sept 25, various items on a full in-tray have been addressed.

On Oct 16, SA mended fences with national marathoner Soh Rui Yong, who had been embroiled in legal issues with the governing body for close to a year.

High performance is also on the agenda, with the 2021 SEA Games scheduled to start next November in Hanoi.

A virtual town hall is scheduled for Thursday (Nov 5) where SA will host a dialogue session with athletes hoping to earn a ticket to Vietnam. Coaches and parents of athletes have also been invited.

The new SA leadership have also updated the association’s multi-year sports plan (MYSP) – which had been approved for funding up to 2024 by national agency Sport Singapore – with a revised budget allocation.

Lien, who is Gojek Singapore general manager, said: “High performance is the sole province of the association, and so while participation is also important, in the immediate term we have to get the performance part right.”

He did not elaborate on the specific changes to the MYSP.

Singapore Sports Institute chief Toh Boon Yi also did not go into details but stressed that for the plan – which features long-term goals and key milestones jointly-identified by SportSG and SA – to come to fruition, cohesion of the whole ecosystem is vital.

He added the SportSG is “committed to support such an effort that comes with detailed planning and on-ground actions” to build an environment where athlete and coach pathways support their development and potential.

SA’s overall funding – it received about $1.52 million from SportSG for the 2018-2019 financial year – is another area Lien hopes to beef up.

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He said: “We are very grateful to SportSG for supporting us through this period but new growth obviously needs additional investments, so the new committee have been looking out for sponsorships and commercial opportunities.”

Aside from sponsorships and donations – which totalled about $160,000 in the 2018-2019 period, SA are also exploring fundraising activities, like event organising, and have approached at least 10 potential partners.

Another task to address is the hiring of a new executive director following Malik Aljunied’s departure on Oct 17. The position, which is a part of the MC but does not hold a vote in MC matters, is still vacant.

Lien, 43, said he was looking for someone who could manage external stakeholders, lead the secretariat, manage a budget and has experience organising events.

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He hailed his team for the time, commitment “and many sleepless nights” they have put in since being elected, having campaigned on a 100-day timeline to achieve some tangible results.

Everyone has worked very hard in the first 30 days, said Lien. “We have 70 more days to go and hopefully we’ll have some firm footing by then.”