A Games to capture the soul

Team Singapore's chef-de-mission for the 2014 Commonwealth Games is an excited man.

I talked to Low Teo Ping last week and the rugby chief excitedly revealed how organisers of the Games in Glasgow, Scotland, were flooded with 2.3 million requests for one million tickets last year.

Around 95 per cent of public tickets have been sold for the July 23-Aug 3 Games, and Low is looking forward to leading the country's athletes to the sports-mad country.

Scotland's population is just over 5 million.

No one knows if Singapore's South-east Asia (SEA) Games next year will go platinum but, based on the past, I am sure the organisers are nervous about the public's reaction to ticket prices and stands being filled.

We are not the sports-mad nation of the '60s, '70s and '80s.

It is why the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) has to come up with strategies and publicity programmes, to inform, and then whip up a fervour ahead of the region's biggest sports contest.

The 2015 Games, and everything that goes with it - the countdown, roadshows and sideshows, test events and athletic campaigns - must be geared towards galvanising our population of just over 5 million people for the main event.

The entire mission must be about capitalising on the event and taking a giant step towards reviving Singapore's affinity for sports.


The organisers start tomorrow, with the official launch of the 28th SEA Games and the 8th ASEAN Para Games at The Meadows @ Gardens by the Bay.

They promise a party, where the mascot and theme of the 2015 Games will be unveiled.

It will be a grand start if Singaporeans flock to the Meadows in their thousands and raise a roar for the start of the journey to the Games.

Singapore last held the SEA Games in 1993 and one generation has missed out on the unique experience of being hosts.

It will be a unique occasion next year as the country also celebrates its 50th year of independence.

It would be nice if it rained gold on our Golden Jubilee.

One of the big goals is for the men's football team to bag their first SEA Games title - the most cherished of the biennial event.

There could be a men's gold for Singapore in the 100m - the most coveted individual title at the Games - 46 years after Canagasabai Kunalan stormed home in Rangoon.

In the pool, Joseph Schooling could make a special splash.

Maybe Singsoc can find a way for the country to follow the adventures of the athletes as they strive to reach their peak in June 2015.

These athletes will be off to the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in South Korea this year and maybe their exploits could also be tapped on to promote next year's event.

Billboards should go up and our top athletes past and present should go on meet-and-greet tours in the heartlands.

It was 21 years ago when a 14-year-old Joscelin Yeo made waves with a nine-gold haul at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex.

Backed by home support, many thought Hamkah Afik and Muhammad Hosni would threaten in the men's 100m, but those hopes were washed away under the rain at the old National Stadium.

So much will be different when the cauldron is lit next year.

The swimmers will perform at a new world-class Aquatics Centre.

The Sports Hub will be a hive of activity, with the state-of-the-art 55,000-capacity National Stadium as its centrepiece.

The event must make giant strides in changing the sporting landscape.

Few were interested in the inaugural Asian Youth Games held here in 2009. There was only a clamour for tickets when the Singapore football team lit up Jalan Besar Stadium at the first Youth Olympics in 2010.

These days, rugby clashes and basketball matches hardly stir the imagination and only a sprinkling are interested in S-League football.

Even the LionsXII fail to attract 7,500 fans to the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Singaporeans need to fall in love with sport all over again.

Singsoc begins its mission to stoke the flames tomorrow.

Let's not take our eye off the ball, to ensure Singaporean passion is on show in 2015 and beyond.

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