Marching to POP beat at National Stadium

Recruits from the Basic Military Training Centre and the 3rd Battalion of the Singapore Guards at the stadium during their passing-out parade yesterday, watched by family members and friends.
Recruits from the Basic Military Training Centre and the 3rd Battalion of the Singapore Guards at the stadium during their passing-out parade yesterday, watched by family members and friends.

Sports venue hosts its second passing-out parade as 4,000 recruits graduate from BMT

The National Stadium is used to playing host to pop stars and international footballers.

Yesterday, it became the stage for almost 4,000 recruits who marched into the arena to celebrate the end of their basic military training with a graduation parade.

The parade marks the end of their first phase of national service, which lasts about three months for army recruits. It was witnessed by family members and friends of the 3,914 soldiers, made up of recruits from the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) and the 3rd Battalion of the Singapore Guards.

The 55,000-seat stadium joins the Floating Platform at Marina Bay, first used for the passing-out parade (POP) in 2010, as the only public venue for the event.

It is only the second time the stadium has been used for the occasion, the first being a year ago.

Previously, it was held only within military installations such as the BMTC on Pulau Tekong.

The recruits began their 24km march to the stadium from the Singapore Armed Forces Ferry Terminal in Changi Coast Road at about 7pm on Tuesday.

The seven-hour march took them past several landmarks, including the Gardens by the Bay, where they rested briefly before continuing on to the National Stadium.

Recruit Deepanraj Ganesan, 22, who enlisted in May, said he was in awe as he marched into the stadium at around 2am.

"After going through all the hard training, marching into such a beautiful, iconic structure made me very emotional," he said.

His father, Mr A.C. Ganesan, said having served as a commando during national service himself, he understood what his son had gone through and was proud of him.

The 53-year-old operations director said: "Seeing him in that attire, I felt like he had grown into a man."

A spokesman for the Singapore Sports Hub, which includes the National Stadium, said it was honoured that the it had been chosen to host a "rite of passage of young Singaporean men" for the second time and considered it part of its commitment to the defence of the nation.

The Ministry of Defence was unable to comment on whether future graduation parades would be held at the stadium.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'Marching to POP beat at National Stadium'. Print Edition | Subscribe