Facilities boost for weekend warriors
Fields and indoor sports halls in government schools to be opened to public by around 2020
As a badminton enthusiast, Derrick Toh used to play the game socially every Thursday evening with his friends in the Woodlands area, where he lives.
But the frequency of his games at the Spectra Secondary School indoor sports hall has dropped to sometimes once a month this year, due to greater demand for the school's sports hall.
"There seems to be a lot more people playing badminton in my area this year; whereas in the past, we used to play from 7pm to 9pm every Thursday," said the 28-year-old, who is working as a project coordinator in the oil and gas industry.
"But this year, it has dropped to once a month at times because other times I couldn't get the court, or we'd just be playing for an hour instead of two."
Help is on the way for Toh and other weekend warriors.
The Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) yesterday announced during its Committee of Supply debate in Parliament that national sports agency Sport Singapore will work with the Ministry of Education to open up fields and indoor sports halls in all government primary and secondary schools by around 2020.
Currently, only half of these school facilities - or close to 80 halls and 140 fields - are open for public booking after school hours, with more than 200,000 bookings made last year.
"It is a really good move, because in my area I can book only two places to play badminton at the moment - the Woodlands Sports Hall and Spectra," said Toh, who was a national doubles player in 2005.
The opening of more sports facilities for public booking will also help Toh, who is also a freelance badminton coach.
He said: "I am using Sembawang Secondary School to do my coaching but, with the opening of more halls, I'd have more options.
"I hope that the facilities could be open longer - now, it's 7pm to 9pm on weekdays - but I know it won't be easy, especially because of manpower issues."
Also, ActiveSG will launch tennis and basketball academies, as well as an athletics club, later this year, in addition to the football academy that is headed by former national footballer Aleksandar Duric.
The academies will have programmes which help Singaporeans develop their skills in the respective sports, while clubs will allow people to compete in community leagues, or form social interest groups, among others.
MCCY Minister Grace Fu said: "These leagues and community clubs will complement and supplement the schools and address concerns, such as inability to get into a school team, and provide opportunities to play even when a sport is not covered by a particular school."
More than one million Singaporeans and permanent residents have signed up for ActiveSG since the national sports movement was launched in April 2014.
Almost two-thirds of the members have started using their $100 ActiveSG credits, with public sporting facilities receiving more than 15 million visitors last year.
MCCY Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng said: "It's heartening to see so many Singaporeans on board ActiveSG, but what's more important is for our members to continue participating in sports, even as they transit across different life stages."
WHAT'S IN STORE FOR WEEKEND WARRIORS?
ENHANCED ACTIVESG PROGRAMMING
- Football, basketball and tennis academies, as well as an athletics club to be launched this year.
- Academies providing structured programmes for people to develop their skills, clubs providing opportunities for people to compete in community competitions, build interest groups, etc.
- Academies and clubs will work with the Ministry of Education (MOE), national sports associations, sports interest groups and other partners to improve coaching standards, and work with Team Nila to cultivate volunteerism.
- Academy and club members will be encouraged to be active in designing and co-creating programmes or community initiatives, to reignite the "gotong royong" spirit.
- With the Sports Facilities Master Plan, the Government aims to have a sports facility within a 10-minute walk for most homes by 2030. These range from national facilities, like the Sports Hub, to precinct-level projects.
- SportSG will work with MOE to open up all fenced fields and indoor sports halls in government primary and secondary schools by around 2020. Currently, about half of these schools open up their facilities for public bookings outside school hours.