A New Era for Sports – A Change in Lifestyle for All

Singapore sports hub
When the new Sports Hub finally have its official opening in 2015, it will herald a new era of sporting culture in Singapore – and change the way we live our lives here on this island.
It is indeed an exciting time for Singaporeans, to have 35-heactares of precious land dedicated to sporting excellence, with world class facilities accessible to everyone.
The aims of the hub are to host world-class sports events; to train national athletes; promote community participation; and support a thriving sports ecosystem.
And in order to do all these, there are the National Stadium with the world’s largest retractable dome roof; the 6,000-seater Aquatic Centre; a 3,000-capacity sport arena; a water sports centre right at the edge of the Kallang Basin; a sports promenade; a shopping mall; a sports museum and a sports library.
There will also be a playground for toddlers, hard courts, skate park, facilities for lawn ball, a giant chess set, rock climbing, and beach volleyball.
The best part is that all these are just a train’s ride away - the Stadium MRT station is just a few steps from the hub.
The Sports Hub is the first tier of the Sports Facilities Master Plan 2030, which is to “provide the community with greater access to a wider range of sports facilities and to enable Singaporeans to live better through sports.”
The other tiers consist of regional, town and neighbourhood sports facilities and programmes for the public.
For example, Tier 2 consists of Regional Sports Centres (RSCs), which will be progressively developed in each planning region by 2030.
“The RSCs will offer a wider range of competitive sports and events,” the MCCY website explains. “They will also serve as focal points for sports programmes, activities and events and as key nodes for ActiveSG.”
But physical facilities are only one necessary aspect of getting people to be sporty. There needs to be a movement to encourage people to get off their butts, as it were – and that is where ActiveSG comes in.
As a nation-wide initiative by Sport Singapore (formerly known as the Singapore Sports Council), ActiveSG is “an all-encompassing and inclusive national movement for sport where all can experience the joy of living better through sport.” 
Members who sign up with ActiveSG will receive a S$100 credit which they can use at participating sports venues or centres, such as community swimming pools.
This is to encourage and perhaps nudge Singaporeans to take up sport and lead a healthier lifestyle.
And ActiveSG is going further than just giving you monetary credit. It will also “partner national sports associations (NSA), schools, corporate companies and public organisations, formal clubs, informal interest groups, etc., to co-create programmes that are affordable and relevant to all skill levels and age groups.”
In short, it is taking sports to you.
Singapore sports hub
The National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub
It is thus clear that this new boost for sports – with the Sports Hub, ActiveSG, and the Master Plan 2030 – is set to change the way we live, in fact.
With a fast ageing population, which will see almost 1 million Singaporeans 65-and above by 2030, and a hectic work life, it is important that a healthy lifestyle becomes part and parcel of how we live too.
Sports can be an integral aspect of this.
What one might also hope to see is Singapore no longer depending on “buying” sporting talents from overseas through the “Foreign Sports Talent Scheme” (FST).
This has always been a sticking point, a contentious scheme ever since it was introduced in 1993 by the Table Tennis Association here. 
Criticised for taking the easy way out by importing talents and granting them citizenship so they can don Singapore colours in competition, the scheme has not worked insofar as promoting our own talent development and creating a sense of national identity are concerned.
On the contrary, the scheme has been slammed for doing exactly the opposite – that even as the medals may come in, there is no sense of patriotic pride among Singaporeans about them.
Singapore sports hub
The OCBC Aquatic Centre at the Singapore Sports Hub
Perhaps with a culture of sports which hopefully will emerge with this latest sports master plan, we will raise our own world class sportsmen and sportswomen – and not have to resort to short-cuts to achieve world recognition.
But let this – winning medals – be secondary.
What must be more important is that our individual lives be fulfilling, healthy and fun.
Singapore sports is on the cusp of momentous change, and our young especially have opportunities which older Singaporeans never had. They should thus grasp the opportunities with both hands, and take us to the next level.
But the most important change will be in how we each live our lives on a daily basis. While there are many of us who may not be able to do sports or exercise everyday, we can nonetheless try to set aside time over the weekends to do so.
The good news is that we do not have to travel to the Sports Hub to do this. You can do so at the sports centres nearest to you.
And if all else fails, a jog in the park will do just as well.
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