SINGAPORE – A heavy downpour on Wednesday evening (November 10) did not deter intern engineers Noor Hakim and Muhamad Noor Hakeem, along with their eight friends, from rushing to the Pasir Ris Sports Center futsal pitch as soon as they could.
Their session had been delayed by almost an hour due to bad weather, but Mr Hakim and Mr Hakeem were happy to wait as they had already waited two years to play futsal.
Former classmates at the Singapore Institute of Technology met at least once a week to play football and badminton, before school commitments and the pandemic put an end to it.
So they jumped at the chance to play when a friend – who rushed to reserve the pitch when the pilot project allowing the resumption of team sports for up to 10 fully vaccinated people was announced on Monday – told them invited to join a futsal session.
Mr Hakeem, 25, said: “I have been doing workouts on my own so I’m really happy that we can get together and that I can do a sport that I really love and that I couldn’t do it for a while.
“We all work from home so we barely get to meet each other so it’s really fun.”
The pilot program is an encouraging development for the weekend warriors as it is the first time 10 people have been allowed to play sports since the pandemic – eight was the previous maximum during phase three of Singapore’s reopening of last December to May of this year.
That number dropped to five in May and is currently two outside of the pilot.
Under this program, members of the public are allowed to make reservations for Safe Management Measures Differentiated Vaccination (VDS) and Rapid Antigen Testing (ART) for nine sports including futsal, basketball and tennis, in 12 ActiveSG facilities and 20 grassroots associations.
Participants will have to do an ART on site 30 minutes before each match and produce a valid negative result before the activity.
Recreational athletes like Hakim said it wasn’t a problem. He said: “We are doing our part, moving forward is the new normal. It is inevitable that we have to do ART. The officers here are also polite and efficient.”
Futsal player Daniel Leong, who was at St Wilfred Field with eight friends, was happy to play in bigger groups again.
The Singapore University of Management undergraduate, which usually plays futsal once every two months, had tried to adapt to formats that comply with Covid-19 restrictions, but felt that was not the way to go. same thing.
The 22-year-old said: “We recently stopped playing during Covid-19 and tried to play only when the restrictions were more relaxed. So when it was groups of five we just did 3v2 and got a kick out.
“Now that they allow groups of 10, we can play a team game and it’s so much more competitive and fun.”
While the futsal pitches were busy on Wednesday, the turnout for other sports under the VDS + ART program was not as high on the pilot’s first day.
There were no reservations for the volleyball and basketball courts at Our Tampines Hub when the Straits Times visited on Wednesday afternoon. There were no badminton players for the program at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall when ST was there, although a reservation was made on the first day.
ST understands that reservations for ActiveSG installations are generally made two weeks in advance, well in advance of the program announcement. Since then, Sport Singapore has received over 200 applications for the program.
Where to play:
Badminton: Changi Simei CC, Kampong Kembangan CC, Joo Chiat CC, The Frontier CC, Keat Hong CC, Jurong Green CC, Bukit Merah CC, Marymount CC, Zhenghua CC, Marsiling CC, ACE The Place CC, Anchorvale CC, Toa Payoh Sports Hall, Pasir Ris Gym, Sengkang Gym, Jurong West Gym
Basketball: Ayer Rajah CC, Bukit Panjang CC, Punggol CC, Pasir Ris East CC, Our Tampines Hub – Team Gym
Futsal (5v5): Our Tampines hub, St Wilfred Field, five Pasir Ris football ground
Pickleball: Whampoa CC, Jurong West gym
Sepak takraw: Marsiling CC
Table tennis: Bedok CC, Keat Hong CC, Hougang Swimming Complex, Sengkang Sports Center
Tchoukball: Ang Mo Kio CC
Tennis: St Wilfred Tennis Center, Pasir Ris Tennis Center, Yio Chu Kang Tennis Center
Volleyball: Our Tampines Hub – Team Gym
* There are specific time slots for making pilot program reservations at certain sites.
Refer to the ActiveSG and PA websites for more information.