08 March 17 The Straits Times by WANG MENG MENG
The gleaming dome of the National Stadium may be the crown jewel of the Singapore Sports Hub, a symbol of elite-level sports action, but the facility is also meant to host activities for the community to partake.
In a media briefing yesterday, Chin Sau Ho, the Sports Hub's senior director for corporate communications and stakeholder management, shared statistics to show that interest in community activities at the Kallang venue enjoyed a sharp spike last year.
From 38,000 participants in 2015, the number rose to 92,000 last year. They involved 685 activities. The various events also attracted 70 different partners and sponsors. The Sports Hub is targeting 100,000 participants this year.
Chin said: "One of the aims of the Sports Hub is to help Singaporeans have a more active lifestyle. That's what we've been doing since 2014.
"We are very encouraged by the response, with 685 events (last year). It works out to more than 60 events per month, almost two events a day. There's always something here catering to people of different ages."
SPORTS HUB'S COMMUNITY PROGRAMME IN NUMBERS
PARTICIPANTS IN 2015
PARTICIPANTS IN 2016
ACTIVITIES IN 2016
Average of more than 60 events a month and almost two events a day
Ashiq Idris, senior manager for sports and community programming, added that the participation numbers surged as the Sports Hub had always strived to provide the community programmes free.
While there has been criticism that the Sports Hub is struggling with a thin slate this year, Chin said that on the contrary, Kallang will be buzzing with activity.
He cited February's HolyCrit cycling race and the S-League Community Shield football match, the Super Rugby matches on March 4 and 25 and May 20, the Coldplay concert (March 31 and April 1) and the HSBC Singapore Rugby sevens as events that will keep the stadium busy in the first two quarters.
On Saturday, the Hub will celebrate the first anniversary of its quarterly Community Play Day with a watersports-themed weekend.
About 10,000 participants are expected to descend on Kallang to try their hand in a dragon boat, kayak or pedal boat. There are also water-themed novelty events like water yoyo and a kids' splash zone.
Away from the water, there are activities like Blackminton, a version of badminton played with luminous equipment.
Star Wars fans will be treated to a demonstration of lightsaber combat by instructors from The Saber Authority, an interest group on lightsaber swordsmanship. The group trains every Wednesday and Sunday at the National Stadium.
The sight of the glowing plastic blades and the electronic hum of the space-age swords unsettled an unsuspecting Chin initially.
He recalled: "The first time I stepped out (of office), I thought I was going to be attacked by somebody.
"And the group is getting larger. This is what the Hub is all about."