Article Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/athletes-invited-to-apply-for-support-from-temasek-foundation-inspire-fund
SINGAPORE - Over the years, it has been a common occurrence for national kickboxer Nazri Sutari to raise the funds he needs for competitions overseas.
As part of fundraising efforts by the Kickboxing Federation of Singapore, the kickboxing coach has taken to conducting extra training sessions and he would also save as much as he could to make sure he had enough to cover his travel expenses.
But last year, Nazri was able to compete at the Wako World Senior and Master Kickboxing Championships in Venice and more - he also participated in a six-week training camp in Serbia - thanks to the support he received from the Temasek Foundation Inspire Fund for Athletes.
The fund was launched last year with the aim of providing opportunities for national athletes who are not supported by the high performance sports system.
There are two grant calls a year for the fund, with up to $50,000 per call awarded to shortlisted applicants. They will be evaluated based on the level of competition, the applicant's or team's performance and track record, and qualifying costs.
Athletes who are hoping to represent Singapore at international competitions this year can apply for a grant from now till March 31.
Nazri, 31, explained that the kickboxing camp in Serbia had been crucial to his progress. He trains with the national muay thai team and Singapore Silat Federation coaches to maintain his physical fitness, but there are few local experts he can turn to to help him hone his technical skills.
He said: "With this help, I can use my savings to spend a longer time training overseas. Previously, I did most of my preparation in Singapore, which is not effective especially for kickboxing because the level of skills here is decades behind the world.
"When I got the help from the fund, I could actually afford to go for a training camp in Europe."
Nazri is heading to Serbia again next Wednesday (March 9) for a lengthy training camp ahead of the May 12-23 SEA Games in Hanoi, where he is aiming for his second medal, albeit first in kickboxing. He had claimed the Under-82kg combat sambo gold at the 2019 edition in the Philippines.
Nazri is not the only athlete to have benefited from the fund's support. Jiu-jitsu exponent Fiona Toh, a bronze medallist at the 2019 SEA Games, was able to travel for the World Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship in California last year, her first overseas competition since the pandemic struck.
The 26-year-old purple belt was eager to go for the tournament as competition opportunities in Singapore were limited as the local jiu-jitsu community is a small one.
Being a recipient of the fund meant that she had help covering the costs needed for her flight to the United States and a portion of her accommodation.
The credit analyst said: "Jiu-jitsu is a niche sport, so it's actually quite expensive in Singapore - you are already spending quite a lot on gyms and nutrition so in that sense, Temasek Foundation has helped me quite a bit for the costs."
Athletes can find out more about the fund at this website.