“The 8th ASEAN Para Games 2015 (APG) was like that single drop that made an endless ripple,” said Jeremiah Tan, one of the TeamSG Cerebral Palsy (CP) Lions who captured the hearts of the nation with their dogged tenacity on the pitch at the Games three years ago.
TeamSG CP Lions Jeremiah Tan and Muhammad Mubarak. Photo: Sport Singapore
Then, the nation was exposed to a dazzling variety of disability sports, captivated by the steely confidence of the para athletes both from Singapore and around the region as they compete against one another.
Today, the inspiration drawn from that landmark Games continues to be translated into events such as the Inclusive Sports Festival (ISF), all thanks to the efforts of individuals and organisations alike.
The second edition of the Festival, held over the weekend at OCBC Arena and OCBC Aquatic Centre in celebration of GetActive! Singapore, featured more than 10 inclusive sport try-outs, as well as a special exhibition that outlined the progress of Singapore’s para sport scene.
The Festival was graced by SportCares Patron, President Halimah Yacob, accompanied by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth, Ms Sim Ann.
Jeremiah’s captain, Muhammad Mubarak, was facilitating the ISF’s CP football booth with the team at the OCBC Arena, while Lieu Teck Hua, one of Singapore’s 2015 APG athletics representatives, was helping out with an adaptive climbing session for Play Buddy, a group for children with special needs, over at Climb Central.
TeamSG athlete and avid climber Lieu Teck Hua speaking to President Halimah Yacob. Photo: Sport Singapore
An amputee, Lieu revealed: “I started climbing about two years back. There weren’t any other para climbers around. I would always pass by this area and find it very “happening” and wondered to myself if it was doable [for me]. I decided that it was possible, and I’ve never looked back since.”
Climb Central Programmes Manager Michelle Ong then approached him to ask if he would work with them to establish an adaptive climbing programme, and they have since been running a monthly session for persons with disabilities to try out the sport.
As Play Buddy organiser Shanice Chia, a 2015 APG volunteer who had set up the group after being inspired by the Games, noted: “We thought that it would be quite fun, and there are experienced volunteers here. I’m not sure how much the kids actually understand, but this should be a good experience for them. They’ll enjoy the adrenaline rush.”
Elaborating more on how it felt while climbing, Prashant Arkal, who has CP, remarked: “I didn’t know if I could do it, but after trying it, I found that I could use just one leg and my upper body strength to pull me towards the top. And when you’re at the top looking down, it feels amazing!”
Apart from the thrill that Prashant enjoyed from the top of the rock wall, there was also another perspective that Senior Manager for Guest Diving at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) Adam Morgan hoped differently abled people would be able to experience.
Adam Morgan, Senior Manager for Guest Diving at Resorts World Sentosa (middle) posing with the dive instructors. Photo: Sport Singapore
Adam, who had been manning the ISF’s Disabled Diving International Booth at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, explained: “We want to get disabled individuals interested in diving, because it’s a very different world down there – a world that a lot of people should see. We hope that they will see that diving is not just for those who are able bodied.”
Adding that RWS conducted regular sessions with instructors who had undergone training with Disabled Diving International, he continued: “Sport is very therapeutic, and persons with disabilities will get to go out there and enjoy the company of others.”
Adam and his team demonstrated at their booth located at the OCBC Aquatic Centre that diving is for everyone. Photo: Sport Singapore
“It’s great that ISF can help us spread the word that currently, here in Singapore, there are a lot of things that persons with disabilities can try out – including diving!” he pointed out.
Anyone who wants to find out more about participating in inclusive sport activities can visit inclusivesport.sg