SINGAPORE - There will be more opportunities for youths in Singapore to participate in track and field, thanks to the launch of the new ActiveSG Athletics Club on Friday (April 29).
It is the second of a series of academies and clubs launched by ActiveSG, the national movement for sports. Its Football Academy was launched earlier this month.
The Athletics Club was launched by the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in front of more than 13,000 students who turned up at the National Stadium for the final day of the Schools National Track and Field Championships.
She said: "(We hope to) promote basic athletic skills among the young, giving them basic skills to train up their bodies and get used to all forms of athletic workouts and sports.
"Some schools they might not have track and field facilities, or they might not have the CCA or track and field clubs. So we hope to augment (the schools system) by supplementing the facilities as well as offering the programmes for students from these schools.
"Finally, it's to build up a pipeline of sportsmen who are keen in athletics... (we) hope to provide a scaffolding so they can start young, before moving on to higher level and perhaps specialisation."
There will be two categories of programmes. The first will be for primary school pupils between the ages of six and 12, while the second is for youths between the ages of 13 and 24.
The 10-week programmes will start on May 30, and will be held thrice a week at five venues - Bedok Stadium, Bishan Sports Centre, Bukit Gombak Sports Centre, Kallang Practice Track and Woodlands Sports Centre.
These programmes will be helmed by head coaches Melvin Tan and Steven Quek, both of whom are established instructors in the local athletics coaching scene.
Quek is the coach of Olympic-bound women's marathoner Neo Jie Shi, and his other proteges include reigning SEA Games men's marathon champion Soh Rui Yong and national half-marathon record holder Mok Ying Ren. He is also the coach for Hwa Chong Institution and Cedar Girls' Secondary.
Tan was a former national men's relay coach from 2003 to 2014, and currently coaches Raffles Institution as well as national women's 100m hurdles record holder Jannah Wong.
Tan will be largely in charge of the sprints component of the training sessions, while Quek will oversee distance running.
Quek feels that the new programme will retain school athletes who have graduated. He said: "One group of athletes we often lose are the school leavers. Once they leave school, (there are) no more opportunities for them, and then after a while they drop out (of competing). But when there's a programme they know that's on and it brings together like-minded people, hopefully we'll keep some of these talents."
Tan said: "For the average developmental athletes, they can get involved in track and field. It's like your weekend soccer, you can look forward to it."
Registration for the programmes opens on May 6, on www.myactivesg.com.