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6 private facilities including futsal, floorball venues onboard team sports pilot scheme; over 30 applications received so far

SINGAPORE — Six private sports facility operators here so far have been approved to be part of a pilot programme allowing team sports of up to 10 fully vaccinated people to play together.

6 private facilities including futsal, floorball venues onboard team sports pilot scheme; over 30 applications received so far

People who want to play futsal may make bookings at selected venue operators, under a pilot programme that allows up to 10 fully vaccinated persons to play team sports together.

  • Six private sports facilities have been approved to host team sports involving up to 10 fully vaccinated people
  • Private operators under the pilot said that they have seen a strong take-up for their facilities so far
  • Some are taking a gradual approach by opening only limited courts for big group bookings
  • Several said that they will require more manpower to manage bigger crowds

 

SINGAPORE — Six private sports facility operators here so far have been approved to be part of a pilot programme allowing team sports of up to 10 fully vaccinated people to play together.

Sport Singapore (SportSG) disclosed the approvals for the team sports, which include futsal, floorball and badminton, in response to queries from TODAY.

The national sports agency had received more than 30 applications from private operators as of noon on Thursday (Nov 18). Applications for the pilot opened last Friday.

Private operators involved in the pilot said that they have already seen a strong take-up for their facilities despite receiving approval only in the last few days.

Several of them have also decided to take a gradual approach by opening up only some courts at their facilities for big group bookings before deciding on whether to expand availability later.

The pilot, launched last Wednesday, had initially been limited to suitable ActiveSG sports centres and community clubs under the People’s Association. It was later extended to private sporting facility operators.

The facilities approved under the pilot are:

  • Red Quarters, a floorball facility near Stadium MRT Station
  • The Cage, a futsal facility near Stadium MRT Station
  • Paddle Lodge, a canoe polo facility at Pandan Reservoir
  • Golazo Futsal Singapore in Jurong West
  • Singapore Badminton Hall at the Singapore Expo Convention & Exhibition Centre in Changi
  • Kovan Sports Centre, a futsal facility

Under prevailing Covid-19 regulations, group sporting activities are limited to two people but under the pilot, up to 10 fully vaccinated people can participate in team sports. They must produce a valid negative antigen rapid test result on-site before the activity.

INCREASE IN BOOKINGS UNDER PILOT

Four private operators under the pilot said that they had observed an increase in enquiries and bookings from customers, with some receiving enquiries even before they had submitted their applications.

Mr Kwek Choon Sen Alan, a senior manager of construction firm Arina International Holding that operates Singapore Badminton Hall, said that the response from customers was “pretty good” on the first day of the pilot on Sunday.

Mr Kwek said that bookings had dropped by more than half after the last round of Covid-19 restrictions limited team sports to two people. This was because most people found it tiring to play an entire badminton game in pairs.

Under the pilot, the peak slots between 6pm and 10pm on weekdays are now 80 to 90 per cent booked. The courts are also “almost fully booked” for the weekends until next month, he added.

Mr Rajesh Mulani, co-founder of The Cage, said that response from customers has been “overwhelming” but expected given that football fans have “been starved of football for too long”. The Cage is offers indoor football facilities in Turf City near Bukit Timah and in Kallang.

Mr Rajesh had previously told TODAY in August that The Cage had seen poor business from court bookings after Covid-19 regulations limited group sizes for team sports.

Ms Geraldine Tan, chief executive officer of sports company Coldcut, which owns floorball facility Red Quarters, said that she had received more than 30 enquiries from customers even before the facility was approved for the pilot.

In light of the strong response from customers, several operators said that they expect an uptick in revenue as well.

Mr Neo Jie Kai, manager of Golazo Futsal Singapore, said that he expects business to rise with extra revenue coming in, but it will still be much lower than pre-pandemic times.

Mr Kwek of Arina said that he expects “a slight increase” in business revenue under the pilot but said that it will still be lower than before, when relaxed Covid-19 measures allowed groups of five to play sports.

CHANGES TO SAFETY RULES

The private operators said that they were quick to apply for the pilot because most of them already had the necessary infection control measures in place.

These include measures preventing intermingling between different groups, designated entry and exit routes as well as protocols to sanitise and clean the facilities.

The biggest change was setting up stations for participants to do their antigen rapid tests, the operators said.

Some of them also said that they would need more manpower to manage bigger crowds.

Ms Tan of Red Quarters said that she will need to double her manpower and allocate two employees for each booking to monitor bigger groups.

Likewise, Mr Kwek of Arina said that it will expand its manpower at Singapore Badminton Hall by 20 per cent to monitor participants and manage the Covid-19 testing stations.

GRADUAL APPROACH

Several operators said that they would take a gradual approach when implementing the pilot.

Mr Rajesh said that The Cage has planned a “phased approach” and is allowing only limited bookings for the first few days before progressively opening up more slots for booking.

“That way, even our staff is given some time to familiarise themselves with the protocols.”

Mr Neo of Golazo Futsal Singapore said that just three of its four courts will be available for bookings of up to 10 participants for now because some people may not comply with the rules.

Ms Tan of Red Quarters said that it will open bookings only this Saturday because she wants to ensure the “back-end planning” for safety procedures is completed first.

These include demarcating areas so that different groups do not intermingle, designating areas for people to do their antigen rapid tests and buying more test kits in case some people show up without their own.

In the meantime, other operators are awaiting their approval for the pilot by SportSG.

One of them is SG Basketball, which runs a basketball facility at Turf City. Mr John McAuliffe, its technical director, said he is confident that his company’s submission for the pilot meets SportSG’s safe management requirements.

However, he is not sure if it will be approved because pilot programmes are usually limited to a small number of facilities.

If approved, Mr McAuliffe said that he hopes to restart Masters League, a basketball competition involving teams of three. As the competition is for adults and in small groups, it will be easier to ensure that participants comply with the regulations under the pilot, he added.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus Sports SportSG vaccination Covid-19 testing antigen rapid test

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