Footballers check into designated hotel ahead of competition

The gym at Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park can be accessed by both SEA Games athletes who will be staying there and other hotel guests. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The gym at Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park can be accessed by both SEA Games athletes who will be staying there and other hotel guests. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The 260-seater dining area at the Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park. The hotel will house athletes and officials from gymnastics and shooting for the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The 260-seater dining area at the Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park. The hotel will house athletes and officials from gymnastics and shooting for the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The swimming pool at the Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier, where athletes of gymnastics and shooting will be staying during the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The swimming pool at the Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier, where athletes of gymnastics and shooting will be staying during the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
A room at the Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier, where athletes of gymnastics and shooting will be staying during the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
A room at the Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier, where athletes of gymnastics and shooting will be staying during the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Young Lions team manager Mohamed Feizel Noor (left) and captain Muhammad Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman say the Days Hotel is "a luxury" for the team. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Young Lions team manager Mohamed Feizel Noor (left) and captain Muhammad Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman say the Days Hotel is "a luxury" for the team. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The football teams will be staying at Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier during the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA 
The football teams will be staying at Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier during the SEA Games. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA 

THE modestly-sized rooms are furnished simply - sofa seating and a work table line the window, a mini-bar stocked with mineral water, and a television set fitted on a feature wall. With no walk-in wardrobe or a bathtub, the 23 sq m room is hardly the poshest hotel around.

But for the Young Lions captain Muhammad Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman, staying at Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier is a welcome change from living in his Tampines HDB flat.

"I prefer staying in a hotel, they have much more comfortable beds," said the 23-year-old. "This is my third and last SEA Games so I've stayed at other hotels and Games Villages. And I would say that this is a luxury for me and my team."

The last time Singapore hosted the SEA Games in 1993, some national athletes stayed in hotels during the competition while others remained at home due to budget constraints.

This time, all 7,000 athletes and officials from the 11 participating countries will be housed in 20 hotels by their respective sports. The hotels include the Marina Bay Sands and Swissotel the Stamford.

Starting from this week, football teams in Group B - Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Timor Leste, Brunei and Vietnam - have also checked into the Days Hotel.

For Al-Qaasimy, living close to their competition rivals helps to develop friendships off the field.

"All 11 teams are staying here... we see each other in the lift, dining area, and this encourages us to talk to one another," he said.