Para-sport included in National Games

In another move signalling greater backing of disability sport, this year's Singapore National Games (SNG) will feature para-sports for the first time.

Five sports (archery, boccia, tenpin bowling, swimming, table tennis) will be contested at the July 30 to Aug 7 SNG, with the possibility of more included in future.

This comes on the back of a successful ASEAN Para Games (APG), which Singapore hosted for the first time last December and finished with a historic haul of 63 medals.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, speaking yesterday before details of the GetActive! Singapore initiative were unveiled, said the APG showed sports can play an integral role in promoting an inclusive society.

She said: "After the APG, we realised that sport is a great way for people with special needs to be involved in society.

"It's a great way for them to realise their potential. They don't have disabilities, they just have abilities of different levels.

"We're glad to have some sports we can incorporate, and we'd like to see even more in the future if we can get take-up."

This also follows a conscious push by authorities to give people with disabilities greater access to sporting facilities.

It was announced last December that five ActiveSG sports centres, starting with one each in Jurong West and Toa Payoh, would become Centres of Expertise in disability sport.

Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "The big legacy from the APG was the disability sports masterplan, that aims to reach out to people with disabilities.

"To encourage them to use sport to enrich their lives, to build confidence and esteem, and enhance (the) quality of their lives.

"Sport is a great way to enable a social network of support so, as part of that support, we've introduced disability sport into GetActive! Singapore at different levels."

Besides the SNG, activities catering to people with disabilities will also be offered at the Children and Families Festivals held across 15 sports centres islandwide.

Swimmer Theresa Goh, Singapore's most bemedalled athlete at the APG, welcomed the move as another way for the public to get better acquainted with disability sport.

Said the 29-year-old, who is slated to compete at the Paralympics in September: "It's a good chance to allow the public to see more para-sports, para-athletes and see what we do.

"Inclusion is what we aim for and this definitely bodes well for Singapore sport. I hope I'll be in Singapore during the event, as I want to be there to show my support as a spectator, if not as a participant."

This article was first published on May 11, 2016.
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