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sport 쐽 THE STRAITS TIMES SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 2009 PAGE C35

NSAs to get financial


SAA BOSS SLAMS help to hire coaches
PETITIONERS
BY JONATHAN WONG pore Modern Pentathlon Association is
still without a full-time coach. It is rely-
SEVERAL National Sports Associations ing on volunteers from the different
(NSAs) preparing for next year’s inaugu- NSAs to help coach its athletes in the
ral Youth Olympic Games (YOG) will be various discipines like shooting, swim-
given financial assistance. ming and fencing.
쏆 The Singapore Youth Sports Develop- Said its president Nicholas Fang:
Loh Lin Kok ment Committee (SYSD) announced yes- “The increase in funding will definitely
help alleviate some of our burdens. Get-
terday that an additional $1.2 million
dismisses TO HIS DETRACTORS would be set aside for those NSAs who ting an experienced, high-level interna-
tional coach is crucial for the kids.
require additional coaching support for
critics, “I can’t seriously take this their YOG squads.
“It’s also important that we use the
funding not just as a quick fix but also
while MCYS surreptitious way of doing things. The extra funds will ensure adequate
as a springboard to develop the sport in
coaching in the lead-up to the August
It’s just childish and naive. We’re a 2010 event.
the long term.”
cautions legitimate, democratically-elected This will supplement the $5 million al-
Other new NSAs likely to benefit
from the added funds include wrestling
against management and a member of the ready allocated for the training and de-
velopment of YOG athletes.
and handball.

hasty action International Association of This YOG’s $6.2 million total budget
Said SYSD co-chairman Teo Ser
Luck, who is also Senior Parliamentary
Athletics Federations.” will come from the $15 million purse an- Secretary for the Ministry of Communi-
nounced by the SYSD in April to sup- ty Development, Youth and Sports:
LOH LIN KOK, SAA president, port youth sports initiatives in Singa- “The previous $5 million was athlet-
on the anonymous petition pore. ic-centric. But to execute the plan well
to oust him NSAs like gymnastic and badminton, and prepare our athletes, we need good
which already have coaches for their coaches too.”
YOG training squads, are unlikely to re- Fellow co-chairman and Senior Par-
ceive extra funding. liamentary Secretary for Education and
Singapore Badminton Association’s Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli felt Singa-
chief executive Edwin Pang said: “The pore’s recent success at the Asian Youth
funds will come in handy for the newer Games and Asean School Games was an
NSAs who have found it hard to set up indication of the talent available here.
their infrastructure in such a short time He said: “We want the coaches to
and have limited coaching staff.” bring our students to a different level of
For instance, the newly formed Singa- performance.”
ST FILE PHOTO
BY LEONARD LIM
SINGAPORE Athletic Association president Loh Lin
Kok has blasted those behind an anonymous peti-
tion to remove him from his post, saying defiantly
that no one could force him out undemocratically.
Displaying the adversarial qualities that have
seen him clash with senior officials like former Sin-
gapore Sports Council chairman Dr Tan Eng Liang
previously, the fiery Loh poured scorn on the docu-
ment, saying its signatories hid behind the cloak of
anonymity.
Sent to the Ministry of Community Develop-
ment, Youth and Sports (MCYS) a few days ago,
the document was signed by over 100 parents, ath-
letes and officials in the track and field fraternity.
The group asked for help to take over the SAA.
“I can’t seriously take this surreptitious way of
doing things. It’s just childish and naive,” said Loh,
a full-time lawyer, yesterday.
“We’re a legitimate, democratically-elected man-
agement and a member of the International Associa-
tion of Athletics Federations.”
Calling them “disillusioned, disruptive and dan-
gerous elements” within the sport, the 62-year-old
said he had scant regard for people who tried to
force him out through such irresponsible means.
The document was addressed to MCYS Minister
Vivian Balakrishnan, Senior Parliamentary Secre-
tary (MCYS) Teo Ser Luck and Singapore Sports
Council chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik.
Citing several reports in The Straits Times, the
petitioners criticise the SAA’s treatment of athletes
and allege that its planning for December’s
South-east Asia Games was poor.
They say the SAA postponed without any reason
last month’s Singapore Open – slated since the
start of the year as athletes’ final chance for SEA

CANNOT INTERFERE
“We cannot just
interfere with an
elected body. We
have to find out
the background of
the complaints
first. I don’t think this is a matter we
can rush into.”
MR TEO SER LUCK, Senior Parliamentary
Secretary (MCYS)

Games qualification – just three weeks before the


competition was scheduled to begin.
Despite the pleas, sources said it is unlikely the
MCYS will take over the management of the SAA.
Doing so could set a precedent that would open a
can of worms and allow other national sports associ-
ations to ask for similar measures.
Said Mr Teo yesterday: “We cannot just inter-
fere with an elected body. We have to find out the
background of the complaints first. I don’t think
this is a matter we can rush into.”
The petitioners also charge that track and field
has been in the doldrums since Loh took over the
helm in 1982.
The sport has performed poorly at major over-
seas events. At the last SEA Games in Thailand in
2007, Singapore won just one of the 45 track and
field golds on offer.
This is a far cry from past decades, especially the
1970s when the Republic had medal winners in
most disciplines.
Disgruntled members of the fraternity have also
approached the SSC to suggest setting up a splinter
association, The Straits Times understands.
But this would not be workable, as such an organ-
isation would require recognition from the likes of
the IAAF and SSC. The IAAF constitution states
that only one body within each country can be rec-
ognised as an affiliate.
Loh, the SAA president from 1982 to 2004 and
from 2006, has close ties with the IAAF. He served
on its arbitration panel in the 1990s, and as its rep-
resentative at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitra-
tion for Sport since 2003.
He said: “All these people do not know interna-
tional protocol. What can they achieve? Nothing.”
limze@sph.com.sg