Saturday, 31 March 2012

Singapore National Games score in social bonding

Strict criteria for teams designed to get residents to mingle
By Teo Wan Gek, The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2012

COME April 18, the stakes will be high for engineer D. Eeswaran when he takes to the bowling lanes. The 52-year-old, along with his 10-year-old daughter and two other Sembawang residents, will take on nine other teams from the district in the annual Community Games for the right to represent Sembawang in bowling in the inaugural Singapore National Games.

Fifteen group representation constituencies, or clusters, will choose their finest sporting talents in their own Community Games to slug it out in 10 events in the Singapore National Games from Sept 1 to 9.

Co-organised by the People's Association and Singapore Sports Council, the Games, while celebrating sports, also wants to score in connecting residents.

To encourage community bonding, each team must have residents of different ages, races and social backgrounds. They can be Singaporeans, permanent residents or non-citizens.

For example, a badminton team of eight must have two players aged above 50, three aged 36 to 49 and three below 35. It must also include at least one resident from a private estate, and members must come from at least two races.

Of the strict criteria for team composition, Ms Tan Lay Hoon, 35, constituency director of Sembawang CC, said it is particularly challenging getting residents who live in private estates to participate in the Games.

'They seldom take part in CC activities so this is a good opportunity to encourage them to join us,' she added.

If participants have any difficulty forming a team, the CC will help to link them up with others who meet the criteria.

Mr Ken Ong, 36, a member of the Chua Chu Kang Community Sports Council, said: 'There will be some hiccups initially but this concept forces residents to talk to each other and come together to form a team that is of a good mix.'

But before the battles begin to select the best to fly the constituency's flag, a get-together for Sembawang aspirants was held at Woodlands Community Club last night.

Mr Eeswaran and his daughter were among 300 people - both sports participants and family members - who turned up for the occasion.

Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Minister for National Development and adviser to Sembawang Grassroots Organisations, played host.

Other clusters, including Chua Chu Kang, Aljunied and Tanjong Pagar, are gearing up for similar rah-rah sessions as well in April and May.

The Community Games feature seven sports that require a qualifying round to select two teams to represent each cluster in badminton, basketball, bowling, football, netball, sepak takraw and table tennis.

Registration for three other sports - athletics, dragonboating and swimming - will open in May.

Registration for the Community Games is still open.

Said student Manfred Ho, 17, who lives in Sembawang: 'I have always wanted to play football but could not find any friends from my condominium. Through the Community Games, I am able to meet many new friends from my neighbourhood who will participate in the football tournament with me.'

The Singapore National Games will be held once every two years.

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