The 8th ASEAN Para Games opened in spectacular fashion on Thursday with an inspiring and colourful ceremony celebrating the passion and talent of athletes of all abilities. Photo: SAPGOC
Setting the tone for what promises to be an action-packed and uplifting week of competition, the combination of music, dance, light and sound, involving more than 1,400 participants, delighted the 6,000 people inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium and the millions watching live on television and other platforms throughout the region.
Under the competition’s motto of ‘Celebrate the Extraordinary’, the show comprised five acts, each with a distinct but related theme, which encapsulated the APG’s spirit of pushing boundaries while fostering friendship and solidarity.
Participants take part in Movement 2: A World of Creative Possibilities. Photo: SAPGOC
Along with the contemporary show, brought together by Creative and Music Director Philip Tan and anchored and inspired by persons with disabilities, the fans warmly welcomed the parade of the competing athletes from the 10 nations of the ASEAN region.
“Tonight we celebrate the presence and participation of our athletes, officials and the ASEAN Para fraternity,” said Dato Zainal Abu Zarin, President of the ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF).
“In the next seven days we will experience many memorable moments, off and on the field. Moments that will inspire and move us all in many ways, moments that provide us insights into the true meaning of life….stories of grit, discipline and eventual triumphs. It starts here tonight in this amazing stadium,” he added.
The ceremony was also the conclusion to the APG Torch Parade. The Parade began at Marina Bay Sands, where the honours of lighting the APG torch were given to Royce Seah of the Association for Persons with Special Needs and the Ooi family of Team Nila Volunteers.
The 5.5 km walk took the contingent past Gardens by the Bay and Tanjong Rhu, with the journey finally ending at the Singapore Sports Hub Water Sports Centre, in time for the start of the APG Opening Ceremony.
The flame and the Team Nila contingent making their way through Gardens by the Bay. Photo: Leandro Ngo/SAPGOC
A total of 18 torchbearers participated in the parade, during which the torch was passed alternately between a member of a sponsoring organisation and a volunteer, in a gesture recognising the significant contributions of both the corporate partners and the community.
The Opening Ceremony concluded with the lighting of the 8th ASEAN Para Games Cauldron via a torch relay by seven local athletes – Kalai Vanen (Powerlifting), Benson Tan (Swimming), Aishah Samad (Shooting), Toh Wei Soong (Swimming) and Tay Wei Ming (Badminton). Tay joined final torch bearers, Yip Pin Xiu (Swimming), Aloysious Gan (Boccia) to light the cauldron to mark the start of the Games.
Earlier the action got underway with the round-robin stage of Cerebral Palsy (CP) football in Singapore’s national stadium.
At the venue where Thailand won the SEA Games in June, the Thai team made an impressive start with a convincing 6-1 win over an inexperienced Malaysian team.
Malaysia's Mohamad Sobri Bin Ghazali (C) in action with Thailand's Siwadol Srisuwun (L) and Sanya Suksang. Photo: David Fur/SAPGOC
Naggapong Wanna was the outstanding player for Thailand and he opened the scoring in just the second minute before doubling the lead 18 minutes later with a fine individual effort, finishing off a powerful run with a fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area.
2-0 up at the interval, Thailand took total control after the break with goals from Jettarin Wonghangmit and Chaloemchai Wisetrat making it 4-0.
Malaysia finally gained some reward for their endeavours in the 54th minute thanks to a powerful finish from forward Mohamad Sobri Ghazali, but the Thais responded swiftly with a pair of goals from Paisan Saechao.
Host Singapore picked up a narrow 1-0 victory over Indonesia.
Team Singapore dominated throughout the game but despite registering numerous attempts at goal, they were denied by in-form Indonesian goalkeeper Amin Rosyid.
It wasn’t until the final minutes that captain Khairul Anwar (below, left) broke the deadlock with a stunning effort from outside the box.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Khairul simply knelt down and celebrated.
While he has participated and scored in the previous APG, scoring his first goal in front of a roaring home crowd was an experience that left him at a loss for words
“I don’t know how to describe how I felt at that point of time. It just happened and I just went to the ground and celebrated. It was fantastic,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to do next. I couldn’t run anymore. I just kneeled down.”