Asean Para Games start of a new phase in disability sports, says Minister Fu
Minister Fu: Games is the start of a movement for disability sport, with plans to grow the numbers
The term "legacy" is bandied about whenever Singapore hosts a major sporting event.
It floated all through the Youth Olympic Games in 2010, spiked again during the South-east Asia Games in June, and it has surfaced again in the lead-up to the Asean Para Games (APG).
"I think we are at the start of a journey," said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on the sidelines of a two-day Team Singapore camp at the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) yesterday ahead of the APG, from Dec 3 to 9.
"When we talk about the legacy, it's not just the Games per se, it doesn't end with the closing ceremony, it's about creating a movement for disability sport.
"(It is) about a segment of Singaporeans realising their potential, participating in sport like everybody else, and for us having the infrastructure and facilities to cater to their needs, and also the whole support and ecosystem."
"This will be the start of a new phase in disability sports," added Fu, who promised to be "a crazy woman screaming in the background" during the Games.
Already, disability sport has made headway in the lead-up to the Republic's first hosting of the biennial APG, which started in 2001.
Singapore will be represented by their largest-ever contingent of 158 athletes in 15 sports at the Games, and the two-day Team Singapore camp is also a first for para-athletes who are preparing for the challenge.
The contingent was divided into four sessions over the two-day camp - Saturday and yesterday - where the athletes attended talks and engaged in team-building activities like painting with their able-bodied counterparts, such as sailor Savannah Siew, and bowlers Shayna Ng and Jazreel Tan.
Fu said: "We hope this will be an ongoing initiative, not just for para-athletes, but also the other Team Singapore athletes...
"It will be the same approach to all our athletes for major sporting events."
Para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu may have won medals at the Paralympic Games and the International Paralympic Committee World Championships, but she still feels the butterflies ahead of the regional Games.
Of the bonding session, the 23-year-old said: "It's nice to know that you're not the only one doing this.
"There are a lot of people doing this with me and it's good to be able to know that people are working as hard as you, and life is as tough for a lot of other people. It keeps me going."
In his speech, Sport Singapore chief executive officer and Singapore Asean Para Games organising chairman Lim Teck Yin called all the athletes "pioneers" of a new movement to promote disability sport.
He also expressed confidence that the Team Singapore contingent at the next APG in 2017 will be bigger than the Class of 2015, while The New Paper understands that plans are afoot to source for suitable locations and partnerships to build gyms that specially cater to para-athletes.
Para-athletes currently share the SSI gym with able-bodied athletes.
Lim said to the athletes: "I think the role you play through your sport and the Asean Para Games is to reach out to everybody that you have an opportunity to reach out to; to say that we are one.
"We are one as it is in our Pledge, we are one as it is in our national anthem, and we are one when we do what we do through our sport."