Bowling: Yeo bags bowling hot seat

Award winners Shayna Ng and Joey Yeo at the Singapore Bowling Federation’s annual awards night. Both of them welcomed the appointment of Francis Yeo (above) as acting national head coach.
Award winners Shayna Ng and Joey Yeo at the Singapore Bowling Federation’s annual awards night. Both of them welcomed the appointment of Francis Yeo (above) as acting national head coach. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THA

Veteran welcomes chance to face scrutiny as bowlers applaud his coaching appointment

As the newly-hired acting national head coach of one of Singapore's most prominent and successful sports, Francis Yeo knows the task to take charge of national bowlers comes with great scrutiny and expectation.

From keeping the women bowlers among the world's best, preparing the next generation after them, to maintaining the momentum in the men's team, he knows he has his work cut out for him.

But backed by more than 15 years' experience in the local elite bowling scene, the veteran coach is up for the challenge.

"This is a hot seat some would love to have, some don't want to sit on," Yeo said yesterday on the sidelines of the Singapore Bowling Federation's (SBF) annual awards night. "For me, if the opportunity comes, why not grab it? I've been involved in both bowler development and competitions over the last 11 years, so I think I have a good feel of both worlds."

The 54-year-old was first part of the coaching set-up from 1996 to 2001, and rejoined the association in 2004. As the national deputy head coach since 2014, he has been overseeing bowler development.

He added: "Development is my strength. Now I have to also take on a role when it comes to competitions. It'll be a bit tougher to juggle, but it shouldn't be that difficult."


Award winners Shayna Ng (above right) and Joey Yeo at the Singapore Bowling Federation’s annual awards night. Both of them welcomed the appointment of Francis Yeo as acting national head coach. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

He views the task in keeping the momentum going in the men's team as his biggest challenge. Having long been in the shadows of their more illustrious female counterparts, the men's team had a creditable 2015 that included a SEA Games doubles gold, won by brothers Howard and Keith Saw.

Opportunities will also be given to the younger and more inexperienced women bowlers.

Said Yeo: "No matter how many more years our elite women bowlers can go on, we still need to have a succession plan. I've watched our current batch of elite women bowlers grow up. They're really in a class of their own. They were given 10 years of opportunities, and now is the time to give the younger ones the opportunity too."

Events such as the Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships in September have already been earmarked for these bowlers.

SBF president Jessie Phua also gave assurances yesterday to the association's emerging athletes. She said: "This year there will be a lot more focus to... give you opportunities so that you can be up there, within striking distance of the tier-one team. We'll get everyone there in good time."

Yeo's appointment was welcomed by Shayna Ng, who was crowned Bowler of the Year last night and also received a nod for Outstanding Achievement, for winning the All Events title at the World Women's Bowling Championships in December.

She said: "I've worked with Coach Francis since I was in the youth team. We go back a long way and he understands my game inside out. I would actually attribute a big part of my wins to him." Joey Yeo, who won the women's singles title at the Bowling World Open, was named Youth Bowler of the Year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Yeo bags bowling hot seat'. Print Edition | Subscribe