SINGAPORE - The national squash players could train at the Burghley or Yio Chu Kang sports facilities following the demolition of the Kallang Squash Centre, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on Tuesday (Feb 4).
Responding to MP Ong Teng Koon's question in Parliament about plans for an alternative venue to Kallang, Ms Fu said in a written response that national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) has been engaging the Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA) on replacement facilities since 2018.
SportSG has identified the sites in Burghley and Yio Chu Kang as "potential locations for the interim National Training Centre" and will "continue to work with the SSRA on the interim and longer-term infrastructure plans for the sport", added the minister.
The Kallang venue is expected to be torn down by next year to make way for the Kallang Alive project, which will see six developments being built to complement the $1.33 billion Singapore Sports Hub. Slated for completion by 2025, it will boast a velodrome, football hub and new tennis facility, among others. Aside from squash, the Kallang Netball Centre will move to Bedok before being housed in Toa Payoh permanently.
SSRA president Patrick Thio noted that Burghley is not as accessible as the facility only has one bus service. He remains hopeful that they can stay in the Kallang precinct, adding that “a bigger concern is the loss of seven courts”.
All its planned activities, such as local and international tournaments and outreach programmes, “will be curtailed from 2022”, he said.
In response to Ong's question on whether there is a decline in the number of public squash facilities, Ms Fu said that SportSG manages 24 squash courts across five locations, in Burghley, Kallang, Ministry of Education (Evans), St Wilfrid and Yio Chu Kang.
She added: "The average utilisation rate for these courts during peak periods has remained stable at around 70 per cent over the past three years. But it has been uneven, with the 10 courts at the Burghley and Evans Road sites seeing peak demand at less than 60 per cent of its capacity."
She also praised the squash fraternity's achievements, pointing to the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines, where Singapore's squash team clinched two silvers and three bronzes.
"Squash's continued success will require the fraternity and its supporters to work together for its longer-term development," she added.
"SportSG will be happy to partner the SSRA on its goals for the sport, and work with the squash fraternity and the community to support these goals."