Singapore Cycling Federation now calls Centaurs “home”

Singapore Cycling Federation launched its new programme and announced Centaurs Sports Park as its new home on 6 November 2018. We are delighted they have “moved in”, and can’t wait to see how they create more opportunities for kids and adults here in Singapore.

Below is the Straits Times’ coverage of the 6 November 2018 event. Written by Mohamed Shamir Mohamed Osman, view the original article “Cycling: SCF launches academy at Centaurs Sports Park, aim is to promote the sport and widen talent pool” online.

Some squealed as they went over humps, others yelped when they stumbled off raised planks, but the 50 or so children at Turf City on Tuesday (Nov 6) all wore that same look: of wide-eyed excitement as they were put through their paces at the Centaurs Sports Park.

The kids were taking part in a clinic held at the launch of the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF) Academy, and there were already several keen to jump on the progressive four-year programme focused on off-road riding – mountain bike, BMX, cyclocross and bike trials.

The primary aim is promote the sport, but the spin-offs from such an academy is clear to SCF president Hing Siong Chen.

“We’re not stressing about producing national athletes through this but, if we get the fundamentals right and use this as the first step of a development pathway, national level riders will come out of this programme,” he said.

“And if not, look at these kids: they’re having fun with a healthy activity, and they’re learning a life skill while they’re doing it.”

Hing wore a broad smile as he walked about the venue, mingling with parents as well as members of local cycling clubs taking part in races held in conjunction with the launch of the academy.

And he had a good reason to smile. Five schools have already expressed interest in having their students enrol in the SCF programme, with the cycling community also embracing the academy.

Sport Singapore and OCBC are partners of the academy, with the bank backing the SCF to the tune of $250,000 over five years. The academy will cost some $150,000 a year, but Hing remained confident, especially with the slew of sponsors on board.

Mountain bikes and safety equipment have been sponsored by bicycle manufacturer Polygon Singapore. Other sponsors include Nets, Goldbell Foundation, Tote Board and Singapore Pools, who are contributors towards the cycle-safe education aspect in the programme.

The programme, which is free for children aged between 13 and 14, will be held over three 13-week terms across the year. It will take a progressive approach under head coach Hairul Nazwa, and will cover basics from safe cycling to bike maintenance, as well as the technical aspects of off-road riding.

The academy is the first step onto the pathway into the national team.

“The ones who are really good will be absorbed into our development programme for the national team, that will see comprehensive training programmes, but the rest who don’t want to be so serious now have 11 clubs to join,” said Hing.

“We conducted 26 races just this year alone, and the club scene is getting very vibrant – for all skill levels.”

Some parents are already delighted with what they have seen.

“My son and I cycle together, and he’s very keen on the sport. I’ve looked around for a training programme for kids and, after seeing this, I’m definitely signing my son up,” said Immanuel Vijay, whose six-year-old son Jaden finished atop the podium at one of two kids’ mountain bike races after the end of the clinic.

A keen biker himself, Immanuel was impressed by the SCF facility that can cater for various skill levels.

Banker Isabelle Leong was equally keen. The avid road cyclist had just recovered from a vehicular accident that saw her suffer broken bones in her shoulder and ribs, but was keen for her four children to carry on with what is a family activity.

“The only thing I’m worried about is that drivers on the road are not so sympathetic to cyclists, but this is great, there are obstacle courses that helps them practise their bike handling – and it’s safe,” said the wife of reigning national cyclocross champion Tan Bin Chye. “The kids enjoy it and, if they are good at it and want to get serious, why not?”

Hing revealed that plans for a second academy, headquartered at the Jurong West Stadium, are on track.

The academy will focus on road and track disciplines, and Hing is optimistic that the community will respond equally positively to the second academy that will open in the first quarter of next year.

“We’ve got some primary schools that have expressed interest, so we won’t turn away kids who are younger than 12?” he added.

“We’ll just create a class of younger trainees. After all, promoting the sport also means widening our talent pool.”

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