Old face is new man helming para sports

SDSC's ex-exec director Wong keen to boost disability sport in region, increase access here

He is less than a week into his new post as the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) president, but Kevin Wong already has a vision for disability sport that is not just restricted to the country, but also extends region-wide.

He told The Straits Times yesterday: "From a regional perspective, we have to work with key partners to grow the disability sports scene in the region.

"Sailing has grown as a para sport and new sports like para-cycling are slowly emerging, so whatever we can do to improve the scene in the region will benefit everyone, because there's no need to travel far for competitions."

The 40-year-old, who took over the reins from Teo-Koh Sock Miang after the SDSC's annual general meeting last Wednesday, is no stranger to the disability sports scene here. He had served as the council's executive director from 2005 to 2008.

He was also director of the now-defunct disability classification and research centre from 2008 to 2013. There, he worked with regional partners - specifically Thailand - to facilitate the training of classifiers, ensuring that these individuals had the technical capability to place athletes in the right categories during competitions.

Wong added: "I'm excited to meet my old friends from the region to discuss how we can come up with a system so that there can be more regional exchanges in disability sport."

GIVING A LIFT

These organisations do run disability sports activities but they need more support, and what we can do is provide technical expertise and funding so it's easier for them to do so.

KEVIN WONG, the new head of both the SDSC and SNPC, on how affiliates can be assisted.

Closer to home, his aim for the local disability sports scene is to make sports more accessible here.

One way he intends to do this is through enhancing grassroots outreach and support for the SDSC's member organisations.

Referring to affiliates such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore), he said: "These organisations do run disability sports activities but they need more support, and what we can do is provide technical expertise and funding so it's easier for them to do so.

"They are also involved in areas such as education and research, so sport may not be their main focus. So we want to work more with them to help facilitate the running of more sports programmes to benefit their members."

He will also replace Teo-Koh as chairman of the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC). She had been head of both the SDSC and SNPC for the past two years.

She led Singapore to successful Asean Para Games and Paralympics outings during her term, and Wong said: "Dr Teo-Koh led the council through one of its most busy periods and I take my hat off to her.

"It'll be a challenge to fill her shoes and achieve the same results, but moving forward with the systems that are in place, I believe we are in a good position to develop more athletes.

"It's about time that we have more new athletes stepping up to fly the Singapore flag high."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2016, with the headline 'Old face is new man helming para sports'. Print Edition | Subscribe