SINGAPORE — The Tchoukball Association of Singapore (TBAS) recently announced that various benefactors, including corporates and former national athletes such as bowler Lenny Lim and badminton Olympian Ronald Susilo have rallied together to raise $78,300 for the association. TBAS aims to raise $150,000 which would be used for various competitions, including their preparations for the Tchoukball World Championships in Prague in August.

Other Team Singapore athletes like badminton player Loh Kean Yew and Olympic champion Joseph Schooling have pledged their support to the ongoing campaign. Corporates such as Mr Bean, I-Vegan restaurant, Experience New Asia travel agency, real estate company SuperCandy, design consultancy Afternaut and pest control firm Pestimesh have all contributed to tchoukball’s cause. 

Earlier in the year, tchoukball made the news in Singapore when their national women’s team took the number one ranking in the world. But it was later revealed that they have been self-sufficient for years, relying on volunteers and donors, and are not receiving any fundings from the authorities as they are not a recognised national sports association (NSA).

But now TBAS president Delane Lim said that their association, which is a registered society, has submitted its application to become a charity. By being a registered charity, TBAS can put itself on the road to becoming an NSA, thereby allowing the association to apply for government funding and maintain its position as one of the top tchoukball nations in the world. 

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Lim announced the push for NSA status at the association’s inaugural celebratory dinner at Siglap South Community Centre on Mar 20, where Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law was the guest of honour.

Photo: FB screengrab / edwintongSC

“Tchoukball has done well for itself as a niche sport. But now that we are at the top of the world rankings, access to NSA funding could go a long way to help our athletes continue performing at a high level. We have big plans for the sport, including making it part of the National School Games and also the SEA Games. Through our recent results and honour we have brought to the nation, we believe we have earned our right to sit alongside other mainstream sports as one of Singapore’s recognised NSAs,” said Lim.

With limited funding, the association can only afford to subsidise their athletes when they go overseas for competitions; “A lot of credit has to be given to our athletes and coaches,” added Lim, who has been TBAS president since 2017. 

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“Players fund part of the cost when they compete in overseas competitions, often having to take their own leave to compete for Singapore. Our coaches are basically volunteers who offer their guidance and expertise pro-bono. It is time we recognise the tremendous sacrifices they have made for Singapore sport and fund their continued involvement in the sport.”

But until NSA status is approved, TBAS can at least look forward to increased support from MCCY and Sport Singapore. Minister Tong announced that MCCY and Sport Singapore will provide more support to national tchoukball players as they set their sights on the Tchoukball World Championships.

“Despite limited resources, TBAS has shown strong perseverance, consistently exceeding expectations with the support of its dedicated community. I am very glad to see strong community support for them, from all sectors. At the government level, we have also been supporting Tchoukball Singapore, and we will continue to do so. The Singapore Sports Institute will provide gym facilities and sports science to our tchoukball athletes, and SportSG will offer its support when we host the World Youth Tchoukball Championships and the Southeast Asia Tchoukball Championships this July. This year will be a significant year for tchoukball, with Singapore hosting both championships. Wishing our Tchoukball athletes all the best in their upcoming competitions!” posted Minister Tong on his Facebook page after the celebratory dinner with TBAS at Siglap South Community Centre.

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The Singapore Sports Institute will also support the athletes in providing gym facilities, and access to sport science. Sport Singapore will also be facilitating TBAS application for the Temasek Inspired Fund – which was developed to encourage more to pursue competitive sport, and especially benefits athletes who are not supported by the national high-performance systems.

The national sport agency will also lend support to TBAS as it prepares to host the World Youth Tchoukball Championships and the South East Asia Tchoukball Championships from 13 to 16 July 2023 and 17 to 18 July 2023 respectively.