In the works: More sporting spaces near residents' homes

Housewife Suzana Hamzah (centre, in black) has been leading about 40 residents in morning exercises at a newly completed SIP project near her Boon Lay home.
Housewife Suzana Hamzah (centre, in black) has been leading about 40 residents in morning exercises at a newly completed SIP project near her Boon Lay home. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SPORT SINGAPORE

For the last eight months, housewife Suzana Hamzah has begun each weekday with a good sweat, exercising at a new multi-purpose lawn court a few minutes' walk from her home in Boon Lay Avenue.

What began as a personal pledge to get fitter with two friends has now grown to workouts with a group of about 40 who live in the area. They spend about an hour every weekday morning following Ms Suzana's lead in exercises such as jumping jacks, planks and yoga poses.

The facility where they work out is part of a newly completed Sports-In-Precinct (SIP) project, which also includes a street soccer court and jogging track. Without easy access to such a space, the 47-year-old reckons that she and her band of housewives would not be as committed to physical activity.

"It's really convenient and it's also sheltered, so not even the rain will get in the way of us exercising," said Ms Suzana, who noted the nearest alternative venue would be the park at Jurong Lake, about 3km away.

Building on such SIP initiatives, $50 million will be set aside for 20 such projects across the island, expected to be completed by 2020.

The SIP drive began in 2014 to construct more sporting spaces in local communities, particularly in places farther from town sports centres.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announced this yesterday during the debate on her ministry's budget.

She said: "We will expand the roll-out of the SIP programme to additional precincts to ensure a good geographical spread and create more sporting spaces near residents' homes."

Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng noted that the additions will now include precincts that are not eligible for the Housing Board's Neighbourhood Renewal Programme. He was responding to questions from Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC) on whether more new spaces would be provided for community use.

A second SIP project in Jurong Spring is expected to be completed this year, and there are also plans for another site in Taman Jurong.

Besides more investment in infrastructure, there will also be more programmes - in the form of five more ActiveSG academies and clubs - to encourage greater participation in sport. Academies and clubs for badminton, frisbee, floorball, hockey and martial arts will be introduced this year.

Said Ms Fu: "The programmes will cater to different competency levels and provide young adults with both recreational and competitive opportunities to remain active in sports even after leaving the school system."

There will also be Active Masters programmes catering to adults aged 40 and above. The activities under this initiative will include functional exercises and modified sports and fitness activities.

Three academies - for basketball, football and tennis - and one club, for athletics, were launched last year, followed by an Outdoor Adventure Club in January.

May Chen

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline In the works: More sporting spaces near residents' homes. Subscribe