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Local Sports Teams Racking Up Expenses Due to COVID-19 Safe-Distancing Measures

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Now that restrictions on the use of sports facilities have been eased, sports leagues in Singapore have been gathering in groups of five – the limit to gatherings – to train.

However, to allow athletes to adhere to safe-distancing measures, sports teams have been racking up expenses.

For example, extra courts must be booked to allow an entire team to continue regular training. This is the case for the Netball Super League Club Swifts Barracudas. Since only five players are allowed on one court at any one time, they had to halve training time to accommodate more players per session.

The club has been using club funds contributed by members to cover costs, coach Geraldine Ng commented in an interview with The Straits Times.

High costs due to lack of facilities

There has also been a lack of available training venues. Floorball club Black Wondersticks used to train at sports facilities in schools under the Dual-Use Scheme. However, the scheme has been suspended by Sport Singapore and the Ministry of Education.

They now train at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), where bookings are made under a corporate account, which costs twice as much as their bookings under the Dual-Use Scheme.

Apart from the costs incurred in booking courts, athletic teams have had to adapt training regiments as well. “With COVID-19 restrictions, we can stick only to small-group drills. The difficulty comes in when we want to apply specific skills and concepts we practise to actual court situations,” said Ng.

Training regimes on a smaller scale

Other teams have faced the same predicaments. Oldham Hockey Club president Christabel Chan shared that the team has had to change training venues as their usual place remains closed. Their new training grounds at the ActiveSG Hockey Village in Boon Lay, however, is only one-third the size of a regular hockey pitch.

Still, to practice safe distancing, the pitch is split into four to accommodate five players in each section. Trouble arises when balls cross into other quadrants. “It’s a bit troublesome because if one ball crosses to other quadrants, we can’t cross over to take it,” said Chan.

Even so, Chan is aware that these regulations are necessary, especially in these times.

The separation of teams has caused a damper to many athletes who rely on teamwork to improve their skills. Norani Zaini, general manager of Black Wondersticks, said that “it’s a bit frustrating because of the safety measures and change of structure to training. We miss game time also but we must do our best to maximise training so that everyone continues improving their skill.”

Some athletes also miss the bonding aspect of the game but Chan and Noraini remain optimistic over the future of their teams.

“You don’t get to play the sport you love but there are other ways to bond with your team and play the sport on a smaller scale too,” said Chan.

“We just have to keep motivating our players to maintain the dynamic of the team and have a good training regimen for them,” Noraini also commented.

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