In celebration of Singapore’s bicentennial year, ActiveSG brought back Pesta Sukan, an event first conceived in 1964 by the then Ministry of Culture. Literally meaning Festival of Sports, the event this year featured 35 sports.
Squash was lucky to be one of the featured sports and if one was present at the venue during match day of this event, there is no doubt that the event lived up to the original aim of Pesta Sukan – to provide opportunity for men and women to get together in camaraderie and goodwill.
While this was by no means a competition amongst the elite, the stands and space outside the courts were packed with avid supporters. There were likely more non-participants watching this event than any other squash competition ran over the last year. Family, friends and colleagues were all seen cheering on the participants.
The competition, spread over 7 categories, attracted a total of 172 people representing 45 teams. The participation numbers is impressive and certainly gives an indication that the sport, even at the social level, is at a very active level. Perhaps the team event format made it more attractive and less daunting for individuals.
The unconventional competition format was certainly an eye opener for many though. It promotes even more team spirit between the players within the team as every point won would count in the team score, and one can actually make up for the lost points of a fellow team member if they won by a bigger margin in their tie.
Lilian Tan, captain of the Angry Birds 1 team who finished second in the women’s open, said, “The new format encourages team work, in which you cover for each other, and knowing you’re never alone.”
Lilian’s thoughts were also echoed by Matthew Chen, team manager for the Deloitte team, who added, “The scoring system is interesting as it bonds the team together by helping each other catch up on the team scores.”
Team Sean and Friends from Singapore Polytechnic took home the Men’s Open title, pipping second placed team Beehoon by just 5 points, which was the exact margin they won when both teams faced each other. Sean and Friends finished with the maximum 180 points, while Beehoon had 175 points, with the third placed team Rocket a little further behind with 153 points.
In the Women’s Open, the Bang Bang team led by Carolyn Chan emerged tops ahead of the Angry Birds 1 team. Again, it was by a very close margin of just 3 points which was also the point difference when the two teams squared off against each other. Third place went to audit and consulting giant Deloitte, who were tied at 147 points with the Angry Birds 1, but lost out on second placing because of their head-to-head result.
In the Mixed Masters event, the SAFRA team was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition and walked away with the title with relative ease. Resurgent and Random Racket both finished with 132 points and once again, head-to-head result was used to determine the second and third placed teams. Having won that tie 30-21, Resurgent was awarded second place.
In the junior categories, the team of Lai Meng Wai, Gaius Cheah and Daniel Pang of We 3 Bears dominated the boys events, winning both the under-14 and under-18 categories. The Anglo Chinese Independent and Fairfield Methodist School students also did it in convincing fashion, with their closest rivals a good 28 and 40 points behind.
The junior girls’ categories were more closely contested. In the under-18, PMR took top honours on the maximum 150 points from 5 matches. Three teams had three wins each, but it was the two Hwa Chong Institution teams who had the highest points to claim the other podium places.
In the girls’ under-21, Singapore Polytechnic’s SP Group teams 2 and 3 occupied the top two slots, while Not Cool from Nanyang Polytechnic came in third.
Overall, we’d say the Pesta Sukan squash event was a roaring success. There was plenty of healthy competition, laughter and we are pretty sure, many walked away with new friends.
Lilian of the Angry Birds also added, “I think it’s great to see people from all walks participating in squash. Whether you’re a veteran or just starting out, squash is a great sport that bonds people together.”
For some, there are even fringe benefits gained. Deloitte team manager Matthew Wong, an Audit Senior in the firm, said, “External events such as these bring us out of the work context, which helps achieve work-life balance. The best part is we got together over a sport we all love. We would be more than happy to come back next year!”
Given the encouraging feedback and participation of the event, we certainly hope that the Pesta Sukan will not be a once-off event or we’d have to wait for the next bicentennial before the next edition.