Plenty of competitive badminton action and loud cheers filled the Community Auditorium of Our Tampines Hub (OTH) last Sunday, when the OUE Youth International Series finals and other associated activities were in full swing.
The OUE Youth International Series is a regional and annual tournament organized by the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), and sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
Involving 500 participants from 13 countries, this regional tournament was held in the heartlands of Singapore for the first time this year, in hopes of making it more accessible to local communities.
For certain spectators like Koit Chun Ping, watching the tournament finals was a spontaneous decision as he was passing through OTH.
“This is the first time I’m coming to the Hub. I came across this, and decided to come in and check it out,” said the 30-year-old, who recently rekindled his interest in badminton.
Ronnie Lim, CEO of Singapore Badminton Association. Photo: Sport Singapore
Aside from its location within the heartlands, the “state-of-the-art infrastructure” was one of the main reasons why Ronnie Lim, CEO of SBA, found the OTH to be a suitable venue for the competition.
“Having the tournament here will encourage more visibility for the sport of badminton, since Tampines is a very popular heartland,” he pointed out.
“We hope that going forward we can have similar events here and also in other heartlands where the facilities are sufficient, because in order to hold a certain event, you have to have a certain quality of facilities, and Tampines Hub obviously meets that criteria. We hope that we can do more here, and not only regional youth tournaments, but maybe even senior level tournaments as well,” Lim continued.
Commonwealth silver medalist Derek Wong who represented Singapore in the 2016 Rio Olympics before his recent decision to retire, also made an appearance at OTH to conduct a badminton clinic for ActiveSG and People’s Association (PA) members, held prior the OUE Youth International finals.
Derek Wong conducting a clinic. Photo: Sport Singapore
“It’s a privilege to be here. I really appreciate the opportunity to come and share my experiences and knowledge of badminton,” he said.
“I’d say the popularity of badminton has definitely increased. Even with ActiveSG and the government building more courts. The demand is higher than the supply. It’s a good direction. We could involve more people, like hosting this event, to have people just relax and play for three hours,” Wong stated.
The clinic saw some 90 participants, aged between eight and 65 years old, gather to learn the basics of badminton, such as racket handling, footwork, and the correct way to swing your arm. It was organised in an attempt to engage residents and encourage sport participation.
“This is part of our whole master plan, to bring sports closer to the communities, not just to engage them, but for them to participate and also watch the sport,” said Lai Chin Kwang, Chief of ActiveSG.
The clinic saw some 90 participants, aged between eight and 65 years old, gather to learn the basics of badminton. Photo: Sport Singapore
“What we would like to do now is to deepen our engagement, to touch the hearts and minds of residents, Singaporeans, so they know that you can live better through sport,” he shared.
Aside from beginners looking to work on their basics, the clinic also attracted Singaporeans who play badminton on a regular basis, such as Zoe Ang, who attended the three-hour clinic along with two of her friends. The trio, who play badminton with a social group every Sunday, found Derek’s clinic to be beneficial and good fun.
“We made some friends, and we had fun. I think this can possibly reach a wider audience with more publicity,” Ang noted.
The day’s events concluded with Team Singapore shining in front of the home crowd to clinch the OUE Youth International titles in three categories – the Girls’ Singles U17, Boys’ Singles U17, and Boys’ Doubles U19.