APG CDM: We must build on Games momentum
After a grand Para Games, Singapore eyeing more international disability sports events
The baton has been passed and the flame extinguished for the 8th Asean Para Games that was universally hailed as the best in the history of the event.
From grit in the arena to seamless organisation, roars from the stands and the support spilling over into the virtual space, the Para Games has been a huge success on every front for first-time hosts Singapore.
Team Singapore's chef de mission, Raja Singh, believes a spark has been ignited in the Singapore psyche, and it is critical that it be fanned.
He wants to see more international disability sports events in the Lion City, to excite the local fans and continue the momentum generated by the Asean Para Games.
"We've got to continue the momentum. I hope we can do local events parallel to bringing international events here each year, and it is important if we want to be a sporting nation," he said, speaking on the sidelines of the post-Games wrap at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.
Raja asserts that with a strong base here, an international swimming event would be ideal, along with powerlifting, with several world-class athletes in the sport hailing from South-east Asia.
"Other events may not get the kind of level of support that the APG did, and we can't expect the same kind of turnout at venues," said Raja, a former Singapore Paralympian.
But he asserts that there are several positives to come out of hosting events. It will give athletes something to aim for, and a schedule around which to plan their peaks and troughs, with major games the ultimate goal.
Athletes will also be able to get high level competition at home, a cheaper option than frequent travel to Europe and the United States, where several events are held.
Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin, who is also chairman of the Singapore Asean Para Games Organising Committee (Sapgoc), is on the same page.
"The need for development and events is critical. All levels, from the grassroots to the top require some competition, (to provide) the impetus to train," he said.
"And now we've got the opportunity to create some events."
Lim has his eye on the possibility of inter-city events within Asean, and he revealed that International Paralympic Committee officials had levelled praise on Singapore for the way it organised the Para Games.
Raja asserts that locally, there must be a drive from within the sport to make this happen.
"I've spoken to some stakeholders and there is interest (to host international events), but specific National Disability Sports Associations (NDSA) have to show interest in having these (proposed) international events, and it can happen only if athletes push for it," said Raja, who revealed yet another opportunity on the horizon.
"I spoke to some Thai officials and they are considering inviting athletes from the region to go there and train with them. They are the best in the region, and that is another area we are looking into.
"This time, we've had to throw several athletes with little training into the Games, because we're the hosts but, for future games, we can't. They all have to get their levels up."
And for this, Singapore should embrace all options available.
He was blown away over the organisation of the Games despite the fact that Sapgoc has had virtually no experience in handling disability sports - will be pleased to note that he has Lim fighting in his corner.
Said Lim: "We should be thinking about events for disability sports as we do for sports in general."
Now swimming has a good base, and in the region, powerlifting is strong, so these are the sports we should consider when thinking of bringing international events here.
— Singapore CDM Raja Singh
BY THE NUMBERS
634,059 Number of people who attended the Asean Para Games carnival.
350,000 Outreach programme.
12,000 Tagged photos and posts on Instagram and Facebook.
3,000 Number of Nilas made by 23 schools.
71,188 ActiveSG APG experience tour attendance.
42,000 Number of students reached by modular school programme.
102,000 Attendance for the Asean Para Games.