The 13-year search for a home for Singapore bowling is finally over.
On Thursday, the Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) said goodbye to the days of renting lanes for national-team training as it officially unveiled its spanking-new headquarters. SingaporeBowling is a 38-lane, $3.5 million state-of-the-art facility at Temasek Club along Rifle Range Road.
A joyous SBF president Jessie Phua said it is a "dream come true", with the federation working hard to make this project come to fruition after she had taken over as president in 2002.
"I've always felt that we must have our own house, a place we can call home; if not, we're just wandering nomads," the 56-year-old said.
For the last 13 years, however, that had been the case for SBF as it did not have a centralised bowling centre to call home.
While the association office was based in the old National Stadium and at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the SBF had to rent bowling lanes from Orchid Country Club and the National Service Resort and Country Club for national team training and major events.
In its previous incarnation as the Singapore Tenpin Bowling Congress (STBC), it used to hold centralised training at the now-defunct Kim Seng Bowl from 1997 to 2002.
However, ever since then-president T.T. Ong fled the country in 2002 with STBC mired in financial irregularities, training at Kim Seng stopped as the venue was subsequently shut down.
Phua said the new bowling centre will be managed by SingaporeBowling Pte Ltd, a commercial company and a subsidiary of SBF. It will be opened for public use as well.
She added that there are plans to host international competitions and, more ambitiously, build more similar centres around Singapore.
However, she said SBF will not rush into it, preferring to evaluate this centre's progress before making any future forays.
While the bowling centre will be open to the public, priority will be given to the national bowlers for training, to ensure that Singapore remains a top competitor.
The national team, who comprise about 60 keglers, have welcomed the new facility and have started training there.
Said SEA Games gold medallist Jazreel Tan, 25: "It's good for us because now we have a place to call our own. It is also more convenient for us because we have our own ball storage at the centre and are no longer required to bring our bowling balls all over Singapore."
Tan added that the centre can change the oiling patterns of the lanes to replicate those of other competition venues.
This is something other commercial bowling alleys may be unable or unwilling to do. The upshot is that it will better prepare the bowlers for their tournaments.
The bowling centre is open to the public from noon to midnight from Sundays to Thursdays, and noon to 3am on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays.
Each game costs $5.