Sporty volunteers back for more at National Games

Founder Johnson Ong (kneeling) with some of the 250 U Volunteers who will be involved in the SNG.
Founder Johnson Ong (kneeling) with some of the 250 U Volunteers who will be involved in the SNG. PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Voluntary welfare organisation U Volunteers made their first foray into sport at last June's SEA Games.

They enjoyed being part of Team Nila so much that they were hooked - and decided to lend their services for December's Asean Para Games.

This year, about 250 U Volunteers will return to Team Nila for the upcoming Singapore National Games (SNG). They will help out in areas such as safety, logistics, food and beverage and media relations.

Established in 2012 and based in Whampoa, U Volunteers started off doing acts of charity for the elderly in the neighbourhood and volunteering with organisations like the Singapore Red Cross and the National Kidney Foundation.

Explaining the decision to venture into the sports scene, U Volunteers founder Johnson Ong, 53, said: "One of the key things for our volunteers is to stay active and healthy. By volunteering at local sports events, our people are able to understand the importance of keeping fit. I also see that around half of my volunteers love to do anything related to sports."

Ong's volunteers range in age from 18 to 70 and he welcomes everyone to join his cause - no matter their age or ability.

Retiree Gayle Kiew, who is wheelchair-bound, said: "I enjoy volunteering because it allows me to help others. Having a disability does not mean I cannot give back to society. Volunteering for events like the SEA Games and SNG allows me to get outside the home and be more active."

Besides keeping them fit, Ong also encourages his volunteers to participate for another reason - albeit a cheeky one. "Sometimes when I see some of the volunteers, I want to play matchmaker and try to set up a few couples.

"Why not let them be happy while they work? So far, I haven't had any success but I do see some volunteers getting close - hopefully, something happens very soon."

U Volunteers will be organising a Kampung Games on Aug 7 as part of GetActive! Singapore. To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/UVolunteers

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Sporty volunteers back for more at National Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe