Softball: Softballers get extended use of Kallang diamond

The softball team from Tanjong Katong Girls' School training at the Kallang Diamond.
The softball team from Tanjong Katong Girls' School training at the Kallang Diamond.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It will be venue of all schools national finals; S'pore women's team can still train at ground

The softball fraternity can breathe a sigh of relief - until Sept 30, at least, after they were given additional time to remain at the Kallang Softball Field, their home for the past 20 years.

The lease extension means that this year's Schools National softball finals for the A, B and C divisions, as well as the local men's and women's leagues, can be held at the venue, which is also called the Kallang Diamond.

The lease for the land had originally expired on Dec 31 last year, said the Singapore Baseball and Softball Association (SBSA).

Leong Hon Fai, the national convenor for the Schools National competition, welcomed the lease extension, which meant that the field could be booked for the A and C Division finals, which are scheduled for the later part of this year.

Prior to this, just some B Division matches, including the boys' and girls' semi-finals and finals, had been scheduled to be held there later this month.

Said Leong: "It's good news for us, because Kallang is a venue where two games can be hosted concurrently, so both the boys' and girls' finals can be held together.

"It's a neutral ground with proper softball facilities set up, including the fence, spectators and dugout areas that are properly demarcated."

The national women's team are also relieved that they can continue to train three times a week at Kallang as they prepare for the Nov 29-Dec 4 Asian Women's Softball Championship in Taiwan.

Said team captain Magdelyn Chow, 27: "We're quite happy that we can continue to train on familiar ground.

"We can focus wholeheartedly on training instead of having to worry about the uncertainty of having a fixed training ground."

Even before the lease expired last year, the SBSA had been appealing to Sport Singapore (SportSG) for a lease extension.

SportSG has earmarked the site, which hosted the 2015 SEA Games softball competition, to be developed for community sport activities such as football.

It has identified a replacement site in Boon Lay, near Jurong West Stadium and Pioneer MRT station, and is in talks with the Singapore Land Authority and the Land Transport Authority.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding SBSA's future usage of the Kallang field since the start of the year, the association was still able to conduct its national training sessions there.

In lieu of the national leagues, which typically run from May to August, the SBSA organised a one-off Kallang Open over the past two months to allow softballers to play there competitively for a final time while the pitches are available.

SBSA's secretary-general Sheng Thong Yin said: "This year, we did not originally plan to host the league because we were not sure if the field would be available.

"With this lease extension, we're also able to take bookings from (baseball and softball) clubs and schools who want to use the field.

"We hope to be able to continue to use the field until a new field has been built, and then we can move. If not, it will be hard to find a place immediately for our national team to train."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2017, with the headline 'Softballers get extended use of Kallang diamond'. Print Edition | Subscribe