Staff members from the National University Health System (NUHS), got to try out Boccia, one of 15 sports at this year's 8th ASEAN Para Games. Photo: SportSG
It was barely nine on a Saturday morning, but the Jurong West Sports and Recreation Centre was already filled with excited adults clad in multi-coloured t-shirts, all raring to embark on a day of fitness and fun.
Staff members from the National University Health System (NUHS), which comprises six healthcare and academic institutions, arrived bright and early for the NUHS Games 2015. The yearly festivity included a mass workout, competitions, sports try-outs and sports-centric telematches.
However, this year’s Games also offered its staff members something different. As an ActiveSG Corporate Member, NUHS was afforded access to a variety of novelty activities such as Archery Tag and Flippa Ball. Most importantly, though, it featured a Para Sport in support of the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG): Boccia.
“We’ve always wanted to introduce new activities. What better way than to collaborate with ActiveSG?” revealed Suhanah Alwi, Manager, Human Resource Wellness at the National University Hospital.
“When ActiveSG first mentioned Boccia as one of the games [that we could feature], we were very supportive, because we knew that it was one of the Para Sports that would be played this December [at the APG],” she continued, adding that it was a good way to introduce Para Sports to the community.
The main objective of Boccia, which requires competitors to be seated at all times, is to propel a set of coloured balls as close as possible to a white “jack” ball. One may throw, roll, or kick the coloured balls, while less mobile players may use assistive ramps and pointers.
Suhanah Alwi (centre), Manager, Human Resource Wellness at the National University Hospital, with her HR Wellness Team, Zen Ong and Constance Chiang. Photo: NUHS
Developed specifically for para athletes, Boccia is also, in fact, a sport that has produced local heroes including Paralympian Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha, who is currently ranked eighth in the world in her category.
NUHS’ inclusion of Boccia was a timely one that served as an eye-opener to many of its staff members. David Chong, Senior Technician, Ortho & Spine Clinic, for one, professed to have learnt a lot from this experience.
“This is my first time hearing about Boccia. It’s very interesting!” he shared.
Picking up a new sport was not the participants’ only takeaway from the event. According to David, they also learnt more about para athletes in general, and were impressed to discover the sheer level of competitiveness displayed at Para Sport meets.
Explaining what made Boccia such a challenging sport despite its lack of physicality, David expressed: “The most difficult part would be trying to get the balls to the jack. You need to use your strength to hit the jack, and you need to gauge how much you have to throw; how to control your strength.”
David Chong got to pick up Boccia as a new sport and learning how to control his strength was a challenge. Photo: SportSG
Beyond raising awareness of the APG, NUHS also seeks to rally more support from its expansive ranks. Having provided medical volunteers for June’s 28th SEA Games, they have plans to do the same for the upcoming APG, as well as to encourage its staff members to support Singapore’s very own para athletes at the Games venues in December.
After all, having already tried their hand at the engaging sport of Boccia, watching the pros themselves compete would certainly be a thrilling experience!