Festive start to annual Community Games

Hundreds of families, neighbours and friends took part in the the first events of this year's nationwide community games on Sunday, playing sepak takraw, badminton and other sports.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong kicked off this year's Community Games and Community Sports Festivalon Sunday morning at the Anchorvale Community Club in Sengkang.

He joined a mass workout and brisk walk with 2,500 residents, flagged off a dragonboat race and opened Anchorvale's new water sports centre.

Mr Lee also gamely played a short table tennis friendly match with 10-year-old Charis Pang, and tried a round of mini-archery.

The Community Games are an annual affair organised by the People's Association (PA) to encourage people to play sports and mingle with others from different backgrounds at the same time.

Teams must meet criteria such as having members of different races and ages to be eligible.

This year, more than 800 teams will compete in seven team sports: badminton, basketball, bowling, football, netball, sepak takraw and table tennis.

There was a festive atmosphere at Sunday's launch, with some serious sepak takraw matches and other more light-hearted affairs involving families having a go at playing a sport together.

"It is a very different feeling playing with your family. It is quite cool, because it is not every day you see your mum and dad catching and throwing a ball," said polytechnic student Sheetal Bharadwaj, 18.

With her parents and younger brother as teammates, she tried out table tennis and modified archery on Sunday.

Rain showers after weeks of dry weather even drew cheers from the crowd, despite some kayaking activities being delayed.

About 11,200 people participated in the games last year, up from 9,600 the year before.

This is also the first year people with disabilities are competing alongside able-bodied participants. Ten teams of Special Olympics Singapore athletes are registered in badminton and bowling tournaments.

For badminton player Johannes Cheong, 19, who has Down syndrome, the games are a good way to make friends.

Said his sister Elizabeth Cheong, 26, a doctor: "He enjoys it. He doesn't play as well as normal people, but even when he is tired, he wants to go for training. Everyone there is very accepting of him."

Registration for the games, which will be held till June 30, closes next Monday.

charyong@sph.com.sg

Those interested can register at community centres or visit www.pacsc.org.sg. They can also e-mail pa_community_games@pa.gov.sg or call 6238-2058 for more details.


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