History of Singapore's Recreational Activites and Sports
Since Singapore’s independence in 1965, sports have played an essential role in the development of social interconnection, teamwork and understanding among Singaporeans (Singapore Sports Council, 2007). In 2001, Singapore sports experienced a tectonic shift in the government position, marked by the formation of the Committee of Sporting Singapore (CoSS). The CoSS was formed to review the roles and impact of sports to Singapore and to recommend a sporting master plan (2001-20I0) to guide the development of Singapore sports. Vision 2030 was initiated in July 2011, 10 years after the initial introduction of the CoSS. Its objective was to begin planning a new set of endorsements to keep sports updated with the times and necessities of the economy and the Singaporean people. With the evolution of sports in Singapore since independence, a universal theme operating through the various initiatives is the need for the development of quality coaching.
The demand for certified sports coaches in Singapore is high, especially from the schools and private sectors. This trend is in line with the significant global growth of the vocation of sports coaching (Taylor & Garratt, 2013). The demand for coaches in schools are especially high as schools provide massive opportunities for the employment of coaches. The Singapore school system, which has approximately 365 schools, averaging 400 students per school, potentially provides a large population of students participating in sports CCAs.
The demand for the number of qualified sport coaches in Singapore is high, particularly at the school level. Such a landscape has affected the age of potential entry level coaches into the coaching sector. For example, Koh, Mallett, and Wang (2011) found that the entry age for Singaporean basketball coaches in part-time coaching was much younger i.e., 18 years old as opposed to those reported in Erickson, Cote, and Fraser-Thomas’s study (2007) i.e., 24 years old. The reasons cited were because schools are a common place to employ part-time coaches. Some schools use their own teachers as coaches for certain sports, that way the school can save much more money and time spent in looking for and hiring an outsider as a coach.
In order to bring in quality coaches, NCAP was started in 1990. NCAP which stands for National Coaching Accreditation Program, consists of 2 key components, Theory and Technical. The theory component was delivered by the SSC (Singapore Sports Council) and the technical component was delivered by NSA (National Sports Association). The theory component focuses on the vital principle of coaching and sports sciences delivered through a series of lectures. The technical component typically includes workshops, lectures on sports specific skill sets, technique and strategies to build on coaches’ technical knowledge of a certain sport. The NCAP consists of 3 levels that provides coaches with the essential skills and knowledge from recreation coaching (level 1) to high performance coaching (level 3).
A system for National Registry of Coaches (NROC) was also established to provide recognition to coaches and to provide the public access to a database of qualified coaches. To be recognized in the NROC, coaches would need to be fully certified under the NCAP, i.e., to obtain both a theory and technical certification, and have a valid first aid certification. However, the efficacy of coach education programs in developing coaches’ knowledge, skill and competencies in coaching varies in different cultures and contexts (e.g., Koh, Mallett, & Wang, 2009; Trudel & Gilbert, 2006).
Ever since the reformation of NCAPA to SG-Coach, the duration a coach spends to get his coaching certs done has increased. From the technical and theory aspect to becoming a NCAP certified coach it has drastically changed to becoming a master principle coach in 8 years. Whereas during the NCAP years, a coach takes minimally 2 years to become a registered coach.
Today, a typical coach in Singapore would likely have a main career in the corporate world, have gone through some form of formal training through the National Coaching Accreditation Program (NCAP) and be registered with the National Registry of Coaches (NROC). As most coaches generally invest little time in further development of their skills either through embarking on professional coaching education and/or continuing education training. Whilst this is a common dimension for established professions (e.g., medical doctors, lawyers, architects), a manpower study revealed that an individual from the sport industry will only participate in ongoing training activities for 28 hours a year, which is far behind the norm for other professions of 78.3 hours per year (Workforce Development Agency & Singapore Sports Council, 2007).
The current situation provides an indication of some of the potential reasons why more coaches do not embark on a full-time career as a professional coach. Reviews by the Singapore government in 2001, 2006 and 2011 suggested that a common theme to encourage people to participate in sports is affordability of sports participation. The cost of sports participation for someone beginning to learn to play a sport will typically include the rental of facilities, equipment and the employment of a qualified coach. The paradox in this situation is that if participants are not willing to increase the amount, they are willing to pay for coaches’ expertise and guidance, it will be challenging to encourage more coaches to take up full time positions (Singapore Sports Council, 2012b). Therefore, to increase the standards and quality of coaching, and to encourage more coaches to take up full-time coaching positions, more efforts need to be placed to increase the demand for qualified coaches. The efforts may include cheaper rental of facilities, better equipment, ease of renting facilities to name a few.
To achieve the desired outcomes to develop quality and competent coaches for sporting Singapore (Singapore Sports Council, 2012a), formalized coach education programs went through four different stages of reviews-1976, 1995, 2007, and 2012. The purpose of the reviews was to ensure that the programs maintained their relevancy toward achieving strategic goals.
As a coach myself, I feel that coaching as a main career in Singapore is not viable due to the facts that it doesn’t pay well, it takes a pretty long time to become a recognized coach. Presently, schools are looking for coaches with plenty of experience, like for example a former national player or a former national coach. Up and coming coaches are not given any opportunity to show their mettle, which in turn makes them give up on coaching or not take up coaching on a full-time basis.
Even though the demand for sports coaches is high, the level of enticement is very low. In a climate where experience or in some cases inside help (people on the inside to pull strings), up and coming coaches who go through all the necessary coaching badges and certifications are not given a look in, and even if these coaches are given an opportunity, they won’t be directly involved in the decision making like team selection or even training methods. On a personal note, I have witnessed first-hand of the importance of direct involvement as a coach. Once the hierarchy (whoever they may be) gets involved, the whole system gets very messy.
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