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Singapore sports round-up (19-25 Feb): Singapore Youth League kicks off, Team Nila launches leadership programme

Paddlers exit World Team Championships in round of 32, Singapore Badminton Association launches two player initiatives

Young footballs from Liverpool FC IA Singapore U12 (red jerseys) taking on GoalKick Football Academy U12 on the opening weekend of the inaugural Singapore Youth League. (PHOTO: SYL)
Young footballs from Liverpool FC IA Singapore U12 (red jerseys) taking on GoalKick Football Academy U12 on the opening weekend of the inaugural Singapore Youth League. (PHOTO: SYL)

SINGAPORE — Here is a round-up of sports events and developments in Singapore in the past week (19 to 25 February):

Inaugural Singapore Youth League kicks off with over 200 teams

The inaugural Singapore Youth League (SYL) got off to a roaring start on over the weekend, with over 3,800 players from over 200 teams taking part in the city-state's first-ever national youth league.

The SYL is the latest initiative under the Football Association of Singapore and the Unleash the Roar! national football project. It will feature boys and girls from age groups as young as eight, all the way up to 17 years old. A dedicated scouting team will also monitor league matches and call up talented youths to the national squad.

Among the teams talking part are youth sides from the Singapore Premier League, sides from the Junior National Development Centre, local academies like First Kick Academy and Malaysia side Johor Darul Takzim.

Matches take place at multiple venues across the island, including Serangoon Stadium, St Wilfred Field and Bedok Stadium, among others.

Volunteer-led cheering squad Team Nila Beats perform at the Team Nila Awards 2024. (PHOTO: Team Nila)
Volunteer-led cheering squad Team Nila Beats perform at the Team Nila Awards 2024. (PHOTO: Team Nila)

New leadership programme for Team Nila

Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced on Saturday (24 February) a new leadership programme to identify and groom potential leaders for Team Nila, its volunteer force. The programme will provide training to equip suitable volunteers with the essential skills and competencies to lead in functions such as sport competition management, event logistics and manpower coordination.

The programme will help with the increased number of major sport events, including the World Aquatics Championship in 2025 as well as the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games in 2029, all of which will require support from sports volunteers.

In addition, a new Team Nila volunteer training roadmap was also announced, aimed at equipping all volunteers with the necessary skills set for a diverse range of deployment opportunities. Upon completion, volunteers will receive certificates, recognising their commitment to skills development and basic ability to respond and assist to emergencies while on duty.

Team Nila also held its annual awards ceremony on Saturday, recognising 397 volunteers who have earned the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards in recognition of their contribution and commitment in 2023. In 2023, about 5,500 Team Nila volunteers contributed close to 150,000 hours across 126 sporting and community events.

Paddlers exit World Team Championships in round of 32

Singapore men’s and women’s national teams exited the ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan on Wednesday (21 February), losing 0-3 to Poland and Iran respectively in their round-of-32 matches.

The fortunes of the women's team - ranked No.10 in the world - appeared to elude them as Zhou Jingyi, Zeng Jian, and Wong Xin Ru all succumbed to narrow 2-3 defeats by Poland's Natalia Bajor, Katarzyna Wegrzyn and Zuzanna Wielgos respectively.

The defeat leaves Singapore’s chances of qualifying for the women’s team event at the 2024 Paris Olympics in doubt, as they were unable to finish in the top eight of this tournament to earn an automatic spot.

Meanwhile, the men’s team - ranked 22nd in the world - could not qualify for the Paris Olympics team event after the loss to 27th-ranked Iran. Koen Pang lost 1-3 Nima Alamian, Izaac Quek was beaten 0-3 by Noshad Alamiyan, and Clarence Chew also succumbed 0-3 to Amir Hossein Hodaei.

Patty Tavatanakit to headline Singapore Women's Open

Major-winning golfer Patty Tavatanakit will headline the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open - to be held at Tanah Merah Country Club from 7 to 10 March - alongside defending champion Park Ji-young and 2023 Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) money list topper Lee Ye-won.

Some of South Korea’s top female golfers - such as 2023 KLPGA rookie of the year Kim Min-byeol and 2022 KLPGA player of the year Park Min-ji - are set to feature alongside players from Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan. Malaysian Ashley Lau, who recently stunned former world No. 1 Shin Ji-yai to win her first pro title at the 2024 Vic Open, will also compete alongside Thai rising stars Jaravee Boonchant and Natthakritta Vongtaveelap.

Top Singapore professionals Amanda Tan and Koh Sock Hwee had earlier confirmed their attendance at the national Open, alongside national amateur players Aloysa Atienza, Jaymie Ng, Chen Xingtong and Jillian Kuk.

The S$1.1 million Singapore Women's Open is jointly sanctioned by the Singapore Golf Association and the KLPGA, and will form a part of the Ladies Asian Tour Series.

Top Asian golfers to add star power at Porsche Singapore Classic

Top Asian golfers Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand), Gavin Green (Malaysia), Li Haotong (China) and Kho Taichi (Hong Kong) will begin the DP World Tour’s Asian swing at the US$2.5 million Porsche Singapore Classic, which will be held at Laguna National Golf Resort Club from 21 to 24 March.

The quartet will add further star power to a field at the Laguna National Golf Resort Club that includes 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland and Japan's Rikuya Hoshino, the most recent winner on the DP World Tour.

The DP World Tour returned to Singapore last year after an eight-year hiatus with South Africa’s Ockie Strydom triumphing at Laguna National. It first came to Singapore in 1993, with Major champions Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam winning the first editions of the Johnnie Walker Classic in 1993 and 1996.

Singapore Badminton Association president Lawrence Leow announces plans for the new Guillemard Badminton Hall.
Singapore Badminton Association president Lawrence Leow announces plans for the new Guillemard Badminton Hall. (PHOTO: SBA)

SBA to launch 2 initiatives as Guillemard Badminton Hall reopens

The Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) will launch two initiatives this year, aimed at helping players at both ends of the spectrum – the elite players as well as young new entrants into the game.

SBA president Lawrence Leow said at its Awards and Gala Night on Monday (19 February) that the association will sign several memorandum of understandings to give Singapore shuttlers the opportunity to train and spar with some of the best badminton nations in the world. The association has already inked a deal with China’s Fujian province that see players from both sides train at each other’s training facility, with other arrangements with South Korea and Thailand set to follow suit.

To grow the base of the sport in Singapore, the SBA will work with primary schools who do not currently offer badminton as a co-curricular activity to introduce the sport via the Young Shuttlers Programme (YSP). The programme is targeting to add 5,000 boys and girls to the national playing pool every year.

Initiatives such as the YSP will come under the Badminton Promotion Centre which will be housed at the new Guillemard Badminton Hall, which will have 12 new badminton courts and have a seating capacity for 1,300 spectators. Two special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) will be set up: one to focus on leasing of space and the other, to manage and operate the facility.

Loy Ming Ying, Benaiah Seah to play in WTT Youth Star Contender S'pore

Singapore youth paddlers Loy Ming Ying and Benaiah Seah, both 13, will represent the city-state at the WTT Youth Star Contender Singapore, which will be held concurrently with the WTT Singapore Smash at the OCBC Arena next month.

Newly added to the third edition of the Singapore Smash, the debut of youth tournament - to be held from 14 to 17 March - will also allow the crowd to watch the next generation of table tennis stars in action.

Singapore Sports School student-athlete Ming Ying got her breakthrough when she won the Under-15 girls' singles title at the WTT Youth Contender Antalya in January. Meanwhile, Benaiah was part of the victorious Pei Chun Public School team that won the National School Games in 2022.

Meanwhile, table tennis fans in Singapore can take part in the Community Challenge from 11 to 17 March, which features five categories: U-13 boys' and girls singles, men's and women’s singles, and youth and masters doubles. The champions of each category will win two final session tickets for the WTT Singapore Smash, $88 worth of merchandise vouchers and a Singapore Smash trophy plague.

Separately, a corporate challenge, featuring sponsor CapitaLand’s workplace community pitting their skills against their counterparts, will be held at Asia Square from 26 February to 1 March.

Singapore basketballers to face China at FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup

Singapore's men’s and women’s 3x3 basketball teams will face off against powerhouses China in the main draw of the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup, which will be held at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Square from 27 to 31 March.

The main draw of the Asia Cup will feature 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams. As hosts, Singapore received a bye and both men’s and women’s teams were drawn in Pool A in their respective events.

After playing world No. 1 China on 29 March, the Singapore women's team will meet world No. 53 Chinese Taipei on the same day to round off their Pool A fixtures. The Singapore men’s team and world No. 4 China will be joined by qualifiers Chinese Taipei, Iran or Hong Kong to complete Pool A.

Spectators can look forward to five days of basketball action with at least six games being played each session. Sessions 1 and 2 on 27 and 28 March are complimentary, until full capacity is reached, while tickets to the Asia Cup’s remaining matches start from $5 per session (excluding booking fee).

Women's Premier League to return on 9 March with 9 teams

The Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) will return on 9 March with nine women's football teams battling for honours across 18 matchdays. The season will open with defending champions Lion City Sailors facing Tiong Bahru (5pm) and Hougang United taking on Tampines Rovers (7.30pm).

Another two matches will be played on 10 March, with Tanjong Pagar facing Still Aerion Women’s (5pm) and last year's runners-up Albirex Niigata (Singapore) playing Geylang International (7.30pm).

With nine teams participating in this season, one club will receive a bye each matchday. Balestier Khalsa are the team that will have a bye on the first matchday, and will play their season-opener against Tiong Bahru on 23 March.

There is free admission to all WPL matches. Deloitte Singapore will continue to be the league’s title sponsor for the third year running, with the eventual league champions being awarded S$25,000, and the first and second runners-up receiving S$10,000 and S$7,500 respectively.

SNOC vice-president Ben Tan on WADA foundation board

Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president Dr Benedict Tan has been appointed by the International Olympic Committee as a representative of the Association of National Olympic Committees to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) 42-man Foundation Board.

Dr Tan, 56, is a former national sailor who won an Asian Games sailing gold in1994, and is now the head of SingHealth Duke-National University of Singapore Sport and Exercise Medicine Centre.

He said in a press statement on his appointment, "Doping in sports has been and continues to be a threat to fair play and the essence of sports participation. All stakeholders, from athletes to officials have to do their part in eliminating doping. I am no exception, and am honoured to be appointed to the WADA Foundation Board."

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