Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (fourth from left) and Member of Parliament Penny Low (fifth from left) pose for a photo with Team Singapore para athletes. Photo: Sport Singapore
At the Punggol North Racial and Religious Harmony Street Parade on Sunday, Team Singapore para athletes called upon Singaporeans to cheer on their fellow countrymen at the 8th ASEAN Para Games.
The athletes, who were presented with a participation plaque at the event by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, were at Punggol to drum up support and awareness for the biennial event.
“It's the first time that Singapore will be hosting the competition and also our first time competing in front of the home crowd,” said cerebral palsy footballer Peter Kam. “It'll definitely be a morale booster for us to have our fellow Singaporeans at the venue rooting for us come 3 to 9 December.” The 24-year-old said his team has been training hard ahead of the Games and had even enlisted the help of national footballers to assist in their training.
“We've been training twice or three times a week. We also invited a few national players like Hariss Harun or Baihakki Khaizan. We also play alongside with them.”
But it’s not all fun and games for these athletes as they have had to stretch their time management skills while trying to fit in training sessions between their daily commitments.
“We also face a lot of challenges for some of our players who juggle with study and work at the same time,” Peter said.
Team Singapore para athletes during the Punggol North Racial and Religious Harmony Street Parade. Photo: Sport Singapore
Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC), the national disability sports body which offers all disability groups sporting opportunities, has been pivotal in the athletes’ preparation leading up to the 8th ASEAN Para Games
“We have sent some of our athletes overseas to compete regionally and internationally, to actually boost their confidence and also train,” said Stefanie Pitchian of SDSC.
“It’s a platform for them to get exposure to various athletes and the competition scene.”
Besides moral encouragement, however, Stefanie said there is much more Singaporeans can do to support the para athletes in a meaningful way.
“Because a lot of our sport would need volunteers, it's the extra hands that actually play a part in building the sport up,” she said.
“For example, in the game of Boccia... majority of the sport actually involves the volunteers where they have to assist our athletes in picking up the ball and being a ramp assistant, so it really plays a very big part.”