SEA Games: A sense of belonging for women's cricket

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu joining national women's cricket captain G. K. Diviya and cerebral palsy footballer Muhd Firdaus Mohd Noor at the launch of the "#OneTeamSG Ready for KL" campaign to rally local support for the KL SE
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu joining national women's cricket captain G. K. Diviya and cerebral palsy footballer Muhd Firdaus Mohd Noor at the launch of the "#OneTeamSG Ready for KL" campaign to rally local support for the KL SEA Games and Asean Para Games at the Singapore Sports Institute yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Minister Grace Fu also launches campaign to garner support for Team S'pore at SEA Games

The Singapore women's cricket team will make their major Games debut at the SEA Games in August, as the sport has been included for the first time this year.

But even before the start of the competition in Kuala Lumpur, the team are already overjoyed that they will be competing alongside athletes from other sports.

National women's captain G. K. Diviya, 30, said excitedly: "For the first time, I feel like a true athlete. I've waited so long for this to happen and I'm so thankful. It's a blessing for us."

Rajeswari Pasupathy, 29, added: "You have no idea what it means for us to be able to take part in the SEA Games.

"It feels as if now we're not somewhere out there on another planet. Each time when we play in a tournament, it always felt like we're in a social tournament. It has always been cricketers interacting among fellow cricketers."

Yesterday, the team finally got to experience being part of a larger Team Singapore contingent, when they were among more than 50 other athletes attending a half-day camp at the Singapore Sports Institute for a team-bonding session.

To forge a stronger camaraderie among the athletes, almost 500 of them are taking part in the camp held over two weekends.

Yesterday, that "team" grew even bigger when the "#OneTeamSG Ready for KL" campaign was launched by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

The campaign's aim is to rally Singaporeans to get behind Team Singapore ahead of the Aug 19-30 SEA Games and September's Asean Para Games.

But Ms Fu also urged the athletes to do their part by being more active in rallying support from the public. Addressing the sportsmen and women, she said: "We are trying to get the whole country to support us. I hope all of you can do that part of the sportsmen's work.

"Because it's important for us to see the effect and influence of sports on the nation. And you can do that, not just in competition, on the field, or on the podium. But to get... people to know you."

But while home support is crucial, some are also quietly enjoying the fact that an away Games takes some pressure off the athletes' shoulders.

National table tennis player Yu Mengyu said: "This time, it'll be in Malaysia and with less home support, so I think there will not be so much pressure."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 11, 2017, with the headline 'A sense of belonging for women's cricket'. Print Edition | Subscribe