Promoting safe sports in Singapore: education, due diligence and disciplinary processes
On 3 June 2020, after more than three years since investigations begun, a Singapore veteran athletic coach was found guilty of molesting a teenage athlete under his care in 2013. Singapore, for a small sporting nation, has been home to many allegations and cases of abuse in sports. In 2007, two local teachers associated with sporting activities in their respective schools were charged with sexually assaulting boys under their charge. In 2018 alone, a local basketball coach, a football coach, and a rope-skipping coach, were charged and found guilty of child sexual abuse. And earlier in 2020, a Muay Thai instructor was found guilty of sexually abusing one of his athlete clients. One fears many more cases go unreported.
Safe sport can seem like a secondary concern within the overall developments of an ambition emerging sporting nation. But the reality is that Singapore has no choice but to move swiftly to establish guidelines and protocols to ensure safety is a top priority in sports. If it fails to do so, it risks suffering the same fate and liability of sporting organisations like Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, whose combined liability for the systemic sexual abuse of Dr Larry Nasser could run close to $1billion.
This article examines four main areas that the author believes Singapore should prioritise in its endeavours to create a safer sporting environment in the country, namely:
- Improving due diligence and background checks when licencing and appointing coaches;
- Improving education/awareness, particular for community/student athletes;
- Implementing robust investigatory and disciplinary processes; and
- Developing a blueprint for best practice.
At the outset, it will be prudent to state that this article is based on the information presently available to the public.
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- Tags: Athlete Welfare | Basketball | Dispute Resolution | Football | Participation | Safe Sport | Safe Sport Commission | Singapore | Sport Singapore | Vision 2030
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About the Author
Ling graduated with a L.L.B. (Hons) from National University of Singapore in 2016, and is presently completing her L.L.M. in University of Melbourne, with special focus on sports law and policy. Prior to commencing her L.L.M. in 2019, Ling was working in a boutique firm which specialises in criminal and sports law.
Apart from her professional endeavours, Ling is Singapore’s top national middle distance runner, and has represented Singapore in numerous major games, such as Asian Games, Asian Athletics Championship, and South-East Asian Games.