$75m budget for first Asean Para Games here

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong (far left) and former national player Fandi Ahmad (second from right) playing a friendly match with Team Singapore Cerebral Palsy footballers Suhaimi Sudar (second from left) and Abdul Mahdi Abd
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong (far left) and former national player Fandi Ahmad (second from right) playing a friendly match with Team Singapore Cerebral Palsy footballers Suhaimi Sudar (second from left) and Abdul Mahdi Abdul Rahman at Toa Payoh HDB Hub yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Organisers hope December event will boost awareness and support for disability sport in Singapore

The first Asean Para Games (APG) to be held here will be run on a budget of about $75 million, with organisers hopeful that it will help create a lasting legacy for disability sport.

Beyond just hosting a successful Games, the organisers want the Dec 3 to 9 event to help raise awareness of and support for disability sport, while encouraging more to participate.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong revealed the budget for the Games yesterday, on the sidelines of a para-football competition at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub.

CREATING A BETTER SOCIETY

We want Singaporeans to come and understand what it means to build an inclusive society through sport.

MR LIM TECK YIN, chairman of the Singapore Asean Para Games Organising Committee

"We hope that the APG this year will be a game changer for disability sport in Singapore," he said. "We're hoping it will be a catalyst to help us transform and strengthen the sporting culture for disability sport. I think there's a lot that we can do to raise awareness and participation in disability sport in Singapore."

Mr Wong noted that a committee was set up, parallel to the organising committee, to look into ensuring the right system and culture are in place after the Games concludes.

Singapore is hosting the APG, now into its eighth edition, for the first time. About 3,000 athletes and officials from 11 countries are expected to gather here for the biennial multi-sport event.

The Republic is fielding a 166-strong contingent, its largest yet. It is the first time the nation is competing in every sport on offer. There are 15 on the programme this time round.

In June, the SEA Games saw Singapore host more than 7,000 athletes and officials across 36 sports on a budget of $324.5 million.

For Singapore Asean Para Games Organising Committee chairman Lim Teck Yin, getting more people to participate in disability sport and creating an inclusive society that is supportive of disability sport is crucial.

"That is probably the most important element of the APG," said Mr Lim, who is also chief executive officer of Sport Singapore.

"The fact that we have 166 athletes competing, with more than 60 per cent of them debutants, is a strong signal that we're putting our weight on participation and on legacy, that beyond the APG, anyone with a disability has access and the opportunity to live better through sport.

"We want Singaporeans to come and understand what it means to build an inclusive society through sport. They have a role to play, to cheer, (and) I think they'll also be inspired in the process."

With about two months to go before the Games, preparation has entered its final stages.

Over the next few weeks, the organisers will roll out more community events, while carnivals and specially curated tours will also be run to help the public gain a better understanding of disability sport.

Former national players Fandi Ahmad, Nazri Nasir and Lionel Lewis were among those who were at the event yesterday to lend their support. They played a friendly with Team Singapore Cerebral Palsy footballers.

Said Lewis: "I really enjoyed playing with them. They showed that what able-bodied players can do, they also can do. I'm really looking forward to seeing them play in December."

Added Mr Wong: "We hope Singaporeans will respond to the APG and let us have a very good close to our SG50 celebrations. We had a very good SEA Games, so I hope that the APG will be a fitting finale."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline '$75m budget for first Asean Para Games here'. Print Edition | Subscribe