SINGAPORE - Come July this year, Singapore track and field will get a new home at the Kallang Practice Track.
The facility, which had been closed from last December, will be converted to the sport's National Training Centre (NTC), under the country's Sports Facilities Master Plan.
Athletics will be just one of many sports to benefit from the master plan, with the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) aiming to provide all sports here with their own NTC.
Already, the likes of football, table tennis, bowling and shooting have indicated their desire for their own dedicated facilities.
Speaking on the sidelines of a briefing on Monday morning at the Jalan Besar Stadium, SSC chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "Every national team must have a home. In many cases where that home can't be a multi-purpose facility, then it will be dedicated, like shooting.
"In other cases, where it can be re-purposed when they are not training, we should do so."
Under the master plan, NTCs are termed as Tier 1 facilities, like the Singapore Sports Hub.
These Tier 1 facilities will be able to "host world-class sporting events and serve elite/national players, recreational users and businesses".
According to Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) president Tang Weng Fei, the revamped Kallang Practice Track will include features like an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Grade 1 track, four pole vault pits, four pits for long and triple jumps, two pits for discus and hammer and a further two for shot put.
The new practice track will still be open to the public, but the SAA will be given priority for it, and the various other facilities, according to Tang.
"This is very good news for us and we are very grateful to the SSC; now that we have the hardware, we must also have the 'software' - the young talent who will benefit from using the space," said the oil trader, who spoke to The New Paper after a meeting on site on Tuesday.
The SAA's high performance department, headed by former sprinter Asmah Hanim, will be based at the practice track, while the NSA will be headquartered in the nearby Sports Hub.
National athletes may still work out at their usual grounds like the Bishan Stadium and Bukit Gombak Stadium, but Tang expects them to train at the NTC "at least once a week".
He is looking at hosting a monthly SAA Track and Field Series at the new facility and possibly also the Singapore Open there later this year.
Football will have to make do with the Geylang Field - at Geylang Lorong 12 - as a training facility for now, despite the Football Association of Singapore's plan to have a centre with five pitches and sports science and medical facilities.
Said Lim: "We are spending a lot of money to redo the whole pitch and enhancing the changing and briefing facilities there. We are still on the lookout for a plot of land to give them (the FAS) a full-fledged training centre.
"What we are trying to make sure is that the facility in Geylang is, from a facility standpoint, an international grade pitch for their training.
"The Geylang pitch is obviously good for the next five years in terms of national team training, but whether within or beyond the five years we arrive at another solution, we are still open to that idea."
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