Sports

Hoping to get the public hooked

Co-chef de mission for the 2015 SEA Games, Nicholas Fang.

Much of the local talk about June's South-east Asia (SEA) Games has been centred around whether the current crop of local athletes can match the 50-gold haul of 22 years ago, the last time Singapore hosted the Games.

Yet, local sports administrators believe the upcoming biennial Games serves as a chance for Singaporeans to remind themselves about the joy of watching high-quality sport live.

Nicholas Fang a former journalist and national fencer who is the co-chef de mission for the 2015 SEA Games, together with Dr Tan Eng Liang, told The New Paper yesterday: "In 1993, I was a cub reporter covering the Games.

"Now, I have athletes on the team whose fathers competed then. It's a generational gap, and this applies to the spectators, too.

"Singaporeans may have forgotten the days where they would come out to enjoy a sports event for the sake of sports, not just because Singapore could win a match or a medal.

"Sometimes you need to be there, in the atmosphere... and we haven't had a chance to do that in years.

GET HOOKED

"So we need to remind ourselves to come out and watch sport 'live' and get hooked."

Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping said that, while the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) have many activities lined up to whip up interest in the Games, the respective National Sports Associations (NSA) have a part to play in stirring up excitement, too.

Said Low: "There will be quite a fair bit done (by Singsoc)... so I think there will be a lot of the younger people in particular coming forward.

"But I also I think it's in the NSAs' own interests to get local support for their sport, and not just expect people to turn up for the events."

Bowling chief Jessie Phua said too much importance has been put on the pursuit of gold medals.

"In the build-up to these Games, everyone's always talking about medals, medals, medals," she said.

"But I think if (the media) share the athletes' journey to fly the flag for Singapore, the average Singaporean will appreciate the hard work they have put in and will support them regardless of the result.

"And the athletes will go out and compete, knowing they are not alone and that their fellow countryman is there to cheer them on, and they don't have to worry about the gold."