WEEKLY ROUND-UP: Sports happenings in Singapore (27 Feb-5 Mar)

Chefs de mission for SEA Games, Merlion Cup returns, Team Nila volunteers honoured, Sentosa Golf Club goes carbon-neutral

The chefs de missions appointed for the 2023 SEA Games: (from left) Lim Tong Hai, Dr Hing Siong Chen and Jasmine Yeong-Nathan. (PHOTO: Kong Chong Yew/SNOC)
The chefs de missions appointed for the 2023 SEA Games: (from left) Lim Tong Hai, Dr Hing Siong Chen and Jasmine Yeong-Nathan. (PHOTO: Kong Chong Yew/SNOC)

SINGAPORE — Here is a round-up of sports events and developments in Singapore in the past week (27 February to 5 March):

SNOC announces chefs de missions for 2023 SEA Games

The Singapore National Olympic Council announced on Tuesday (28 February) the appointment of Singapore Cycling Federation president Hing Siong Chen as chef de mission for Team Singapore at the SEA Games in Cambodia in May.

The 50-year-old family physician - who is also a member of the SNOC executive committee - will be supported by two assistant chefs de mission: former national footballler Lim Tong Hai, and former national bowler Jasmine Yeong-Nathan.

“Leading Team Singapore at the SEA Games is a tremendous privilege which I am looking forward to with plenty of excitement," Dr Hing said. "Being able to do so with two capable and experienced former national athletes – Jasmine and Tong Hai – puts us in good stead in our preparations for the Games."

The SNOC appeals committee has also approved an additional 56 athletes to participate at the SEA Games, bringing the total number of nominated Team Singapore athletes to 572 for the Games.

Karim Bencherifa appointed as women's national head coach

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Tuesday (28 February) to appointment of Karim Bencherifa as the new head coach of the women's national team. The Moroccan has signed a two-year contract, and replaces Stephen Ng, who stepped down late last year.

Bencherifa has held coaching positions in nine countries, including spells in Singapore. He first came to the city-state in 2004, when he took the reins at Tanjong Pagar United. In 2005, he led Woodlands Wellington to a third-placed finish in the S-League, and also took them to the Singapore Cup final, where they lost to Home United (now Lion City Sailors). He earned the Coach of the Year nod for those achievements.

The 55-year-old had also briefly coached Warriors FC in 2015. In between his Singapore stints, he led India's Salgaocar SC to their first-ever I-League title in 2011, before following it up with an Indian Federation Cup title.

Bencherifa has previous taken charge of the Moroccan women's national team in 1997, and again in 2017. Of his latest appointment, he said, "The Lionesses are a team with raw potential, and I am looking forward to working with the players to fully develop their technical abilities, while building up strong mental fortitude so that they can compete with the region’s best.”

Merlion Cup to return after 3-year hiatus

The Merlion Cup invitational football tournament will return after a three-year hiatus from 24 to 26 March, and will feature the national Under-22 teams of Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and host Singapore.

All four teams competing in the opening round on 24 March, with the losing teams competing in a third/fourth placing match as the curtain-raiser to the final two days later. All four matches will be played at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

First introduced in 1982, the Merlion Cup was an annual affair until 1986 and has seen participation from teams including Australia, Iraq, China and Chile.

The Football Association of Singapore has also announced that Young Lions head coach Philippe Aw will also be taking charge of the Singapore U-22 team. The 45-year-old has worked extensively with the current U-22 players since he took charge of the U-15s in 2019.

Besides the Merlion Cup, Aw will also lead the U-22s as they prepare for May's SEA Games in Cambodia. He will also lead the team for the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, as well as the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers in September.

Head of Team Nila Ethen Ong (left) taking a wefie with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and Team Nila volunteers. (PHOTO: Team Nila)
Head of Team Nila Ethen Ong (left) taking a wefie with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and Team Nila volunteers. (PHOTO: Team Nila)

305 volunteers honoured at Team Nila award ceremony

A total of 305 Team Nila members received their awards for their volunteer work in 2022 from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong at the National Stadium's OCBC Lounge on Saturday (4 March).

They earned the gold, silver and bronze awards for their volunteering activities last year, committing a total of 360, 180, and 90 hours or more of volunteer work respectively.

A new award, the Biggest Heart Award, was given to Bakthavatchalam Narendrakumar for his acts of selflessness through his leadership and commitment of his personal time to contribute and participate.

Another new award, the Family is Everything Award, was given to threevTeam Nila leaders and their families: Layyin Lyn, Vincent Teo, and Hameiza Abdul Hamid. Each volunteer leader has overseen projects and encouraged their own families to actively serve as volunteers.

Furthermore, for invaluable contributions to Singapore during the COVID-19 pandemic, Team Nila is awarded the President's Certificate of Commendation (COVID-19), conferred to organisations and teams with exceptional efforts that made a positive impact in Singapore's fight against COVID-19.

Four sport volunteers were also awarded the individual Public Service Medal (COVID-19): Daniel Lee, Hameiza Abdul Hamid, Keh Eng Song, and Velappakutty Gagan.

Lions to play Hong Kong, Macau friendlies this month

The Singapore men’s football national team will play two international friendly matches against Hong Kong and Macau during the upcoming FIFA window in March.

Takayuki Nishigaya’s men will take on Hong Kong at the Mongkok Stadium on 23 March, following which the Lions will then face host Macau in the second fixture. Match details for the Macau match are currently pending the host’s finalisation of its local arrangements.

Singapore, ranked 160th in the world, last faced Hong Kong (146th) in August 2017 in a friendly that ended 1-1. Their previous encounter with Macau (182nd) was a 2-2 draw in October 2014

Entertainment at Sports Hub during WTT S'pore Smash

The Singapore Sports Hub will see entertainment activities such as music and dance performances, community activation and games ahead of the WTT Singapore Smash tournament from 7 to 19 March.

Ticket holders to the compatition can enjoy exclusive access and premium lifestyle offerings at the newly introduced Singapore Smash Park located outside OCBC Arena Hall 1 and Hall 2, which opens on 11 March.

They can play virtual reality table tennis, create their best catwalk impressions, grab an autograph from their favourite paddlers, or simply unwind and enjoy the evening with live music performances from homegrown talents such as Jeff Ng, Zerlene & Mun, and TNT Live. Those keen to learn more about the world-class paddlers can also listen in on the live-player Q&A sessions within the Singapore Smash Park.

Tickets to the Singapore Smash Park start from $18, with gates opening from 4.30pm to allow fans ample time to make the most of the wide array of activities.

Meanwhile, the free Singapore Smash Zone returns to the newly-renovated OCBC Square, with play tables and community competitions that allow the public to play some table tennis regardless of age, gender and skill level. There will also be performances Circus of Altrades, Limited Edition and RRILEY at the area.

The FIBA Intercontinental Cup tournament will be coming to Singapore in September. (PHOTO: FIBA)
The FIBA Intercontinental Cup tournament will be coming to Singapore in September. (PHOTO: FIBA)

Singapore to host FIBA Intercontinental Cup in September

Singapore will be hosting the 33rd edition of the FIBA Intercontinental Cup basketball tournament at the Singapore Sports Hub from 21 to 24 September, becoming the first Asian country to host the competition.

This year's event will feature six teams. A Chinese club, jointly selected by FIBA and the Chinese Basketball Association, will join four teams representing the same four continental leagues as in the past two editions. The sixth participant will be announced by FIBA at a later date.

The four continental teams will include the champions from the 2023 Basketball Africa League, the 2022/23 Basketball Champions League and the 2022/23 Basketball Champions League Americas, as well as the NBA G League Ignite, which was founded in 2020 to prepare top prospects for the NBA Draft.

Spanish club Lenovo Tenerife are the defending champions after winning the 32nd edition of the Intercontinental Cup, where they competed as 2021/22 Basketball Champions League winners. Real Madrid remains the most decorated club in competition history with five wins.

OCBC Cycle sees strong sign-up rate after Feb launch

In just three weeks after its launch on 7 February, the OCBC Cycle 2023 has garnered more than half of its targeted 7,000 sign-ups – with over 3,800 participants registered as of Wednesday (1 March) for Singapore's top mass-cycling event on 6 and 7 May.

With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, OCBC Cycle’s corporate social responsibility programme, Teach-a-Child-to-Cycle, will also make a return, with 20 children from low-income families learning how to cycle over three sessions, culminating in The Mighty Savers Kids & Family Ride on 6 May.

Sporting goods retailer Decathlon will also sponsor each kid with a bicycle and a shopping trip worth $100, to equip them with what they need for their cycling journey.

The month-long early-bird promotion for OCBC Cycle, which gives participants up to 23 per cent off registration fees, as well as a chance to win a luxury foldable bicycle, will continue till 7 March.

Sentosa Golf Club goes carbon-neutral

Sentosa Golf Club announced on Thursday (2 March) that it has become the world’s first carbon-neutral golf club, having offset 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide as part of its sustainability commitment.

With the support of its members, the club has set aside $1 from every round of golf since April 2021 to procure high-quality carbon credits from the Katingan Mentaya Project (Indonesia) and Cordillera Azul National Park (Peru).

The Cordillera Azul National Park project helps restore degraded forestry, preventing 25.2 million tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere to date, while the Katingan Mentaya Project protects more than 150,000 hectares of peat swamp forest, generating 7.5 million carbon credits.

Sentosa was also the first golf club in Asia to introduce carbon products in the form of Biochar into their agronomy programme to help remove more carbon from the atmosphere. Other initiatives include a state-of-the-art irrigation system and agronomy equipment, an all-electric golf cart fleet, and waste digesters to reuse food and horticultural waste as fertilisers on the golf course.

Singlife to sponsor SCC Rugby Academy until 2024

Homegrown financial services company Singlife will sponsor the SCC Rugby Academy, a non-profit and volunteer-run junior rugby club, until the end of 2024.

The sponsorship will enable the SCC Rugby Academy to sustain its academy scholarship programme, providing age-appropriate coaching, fitness training and exposure to the sport for Singaporean youths.

Talented youths will train under the guidance of experienced national rugby team players with opportunities to advance to the senior team and represent the Singapore national team. Currently, the program has over 20 players enrolled and is open to all Singaporean youths who may not have the financial means to access the sport.

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