Monday, February 26, 2024
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Brunei Town

A boost for the sporting scene

Fadhil Yunus

The continuing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated by the Omicron variant has triggered a slowdown in all domestic sports activities amid the absence of competitions.

However, the re-opening of indoor and outdoor sports facilities nationwide has at least provided relief for individuals taking part in recreational sporting activities.

This is evident from the increasing number of patrons at multiple golf courses, for example. Dozens of golf enthusiasts and familiar names were seen making rounds at popular golf courses.

The country’s leading athletes have not been able to perform competitively in the domestic scene, especially in sports that are tipped to win medals such as wushu, lawn bowls and pencak silat.

The second wave of COVID-19 infections last August prompted the immediate suspension of all ongoing and upcoming tournaments planned by the various sports associations.

After months of being away from their usual environment of training and without the presence of a coach and utilising the facilities, national athletes received a boost when signs of sports turned visible.

The Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

In preparation towards the Transition Phase last November, a set of guidelines were established for indoor and outdoor sports facilities as well as gyms, fitness centres, bowling centres and golf courses.

The move, which marked the resumption of sports activities, was well-received by the sports community whose training had been limited to only at home and online.

While the country is slowly easing restrictions on sport-related activities, competitions remain largely absent.

The surge of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks has held back plans of further re-opening
sports activities.

All sports have been affected by the latest developments of the virus and football – arguably the most followed sport in the country – is no exception.

The new season of the Singapore Premier League (SPL), the top football league based in Singapore, recently began without the participation of DPMM FC, Brunei’s professional club for a third year running owed by travel restrictions.

Local football clubs, who are usually involved competitively for several months, face a long break on the side-lines as the return of the league season remains uncertain.

It marks a stark contrast to this time last year when authorities confirmed the resumption of competitions for all individual and team-oriented sports.

Following an announcement on March 9, 2021, various sports were busy restarting competitions as sports returned to normal in adherence to protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Though there had been athletes who represented the country internationally last year notably in swimming and athletics, the sporting scene in the country has been fairly quiet.

Traditionally, a variety of sport competitions in conjunction with Brunei’s National Day would be held, marking one of the most eventful periods in the domestic calendar.

Such competitions present a platform to unearth new talents who could be in the frame for selection in the national team especially in a year when the eagerly anticipated Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will be held.

With the SEA Games less than two months away, preparations would have ideally been in full swing, with athletes deeply engaged in intensive training and taking part in overseas competitions. Frustrations grew for the country’s leading athletes without participation at international meets during these unprecedented times which appeared common before
the pandemic.

Despite apparent limitations, national youth football teams from different age groups have moved into physical training ahead of their respective regional competitions later this year.

The under-16s and under-19s teams have also held fitness training to enhance their physical strength while additional work designed to test speed and agility has also been carried out through the assistance of coaching equipment.

The pandemic came at a time where Brunei Darussalam’s delegation was gaining momentum following their most successful away SEA Games in Manila, Philippines in December 2019.

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