Almost every evening at Longvale Residents' Committee along Bedok Reservoir View, neighbours Zuhairi Daniel, Firdaus Aman and Azhar Abu Bakar would meet for a casual game of sepak takraw.
The trio now have a chance to pit their skills against the rest of Singapore following yesterday's launch of the Singapore Community Games.
The annual event, now into its fifth edition, is organised by the People's Association and the Community Sports Club Council to encourage greater social interaction among Singaporeans and to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Republic Polytechnic student Zuhairi, 20, is a first-time participant at the Games and was looking forward to improving his skills.
He said: "It feels different to play in this competition as compared to our usual games. The level of competition is high because we're playing against teams who are from clubs. It's hard but an exciting opportunity for us."
Wearing blue outfits specially printed for the competition, he and his team-mates, representing Bedok Reservoir View, won both of their opening matches yesterday against Teck Ghee and Jurong Central community sports clubs.
Yesterday's launch at Our Tampines Hub was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and several Tampines GRC MPs, including Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, Baey Yam Keng, Desmond Choo and Cheng Li Hui.
About 6,000 participants are expected to compete across six sports (sepak takraw, bowling, basketball, badminton, table tennis and five-a-side football) until May 21. More than 500 teams took part last year.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth parliamentary secretary Baey Yam Keng said: "Sports is a good common space for different people to come together. So it's an ongoing effort to find common interests for people to (participate in) healthy competition."
The Community Games also allowed participants like Kenny Lim, 46, to rekindle the competitive spirit in them. A first-time competitor, the service manager was an ex-Nan Hua High school badminton player.
He said: "This is a serious level of competition where there is pressure when you play. I miss this kind of feeling."