Bowling: Bridging the gender gap

Bowling: Bridging the gender gap
PHOTO: The New Paper

For some time now, the national men's bowling team have had to live in the shadow of their more illustrious female teammates. That has led to some unkind remarks from observers and people in the fraternity.

Javier Tan, 19, said: "After the retirement of the likes of Remy (Ong, current national coach), in recent years we have been hearing comments like, 'You guys should wear skirts to achieve results'."

Not any more.

Their results at last month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil - where the men won a gold, a silver and a bronze - have given the team a massive boost for the future.

"Now, at least we can say that we have at last achieved something. The SEA Games has built up our belief that we can do better in competitions," said Javier, who won a bronze in the men's singles.

Singapore finished joint-second with Thailand in the men's bowling programme, with Malaysia (three golds, a silver and two bronzes) topping the field.

Indonesia bagged the rest of the medals - two silvers and a bronze.

Howard Saw, 21, who won the men's doubles gold with brother Keith, 20, believes that the team's results sent a message to the region's traditional powerhouses.

Howard said: "We were joint-second in the medal tally and it sent out a strong signal to the better teams, such as Malaysia and Thailand, that we can pose a threat to them too.

"That said, we have to work very hard to better ourselves so that we can overtake Malaysia as the region's top team."

The Saw brothers, along with Javier, Joel Tan, Justin Lim and Muhammad Jaris Goh, missed out on bronze in the team event, with their 5,713-pinfall total, 139 behind third-placed Thailand.


Lim, 21, said the difference boiled down to the individual bowler's technical skills, which need to be honed over time.

The National University of Singapore undergraduate said: "When world-class teams bowl together, they break down the lanes the same way, such that each member has a good shot on the lanes.

"We came together as a team in the lead-up to the Asian Games (in Incheon, South Korea) last year, so we are still working on matching our styles, which coach Remy has also pointed out."

While the bowlers harbour ambitions of doing well at the Asian and also international level, they are also aware of the reality of the Singapore sporting scene - with studies and National Service (NS) being big factors in the development of elite male athletes.

For example, Keith and Ng Chiew Pang - who did not make the SEA Games cut this year - will enlist for NS at the end of the year, while the rest are juggling their undergraduate or polytechnic studies with training.

Joel, 19, said: "In the next few years, there will be barriers that will stop us from improving... and we don't know how things will pan out."

Keith added: "Coach Helmi (Chew, national assistant coach) has told us that his plan is for us to train in the mornings during the weekends.

"It is quite demanding, but he said that if we want to do well, he is willing to sacrifice his own free time to train us."

This article was first published on July 18, 2015.
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