23 C
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
23 C
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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    Ebbs and flows of the sporting scene

    Fadhil Yunus

    The sporting calendar in Brunei Darussalam witnessed a dramatic shutdown in events and activities across a whole spectrum of individual and team-oriented sports following the re-emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2021.

    The second wave of infections came at a time when the sporting scene was starting to see a flurry of activities, mostly related to the resumption of competitions amid the country’s interest of returning to major international competitions.Ever since restrictions and curbs were re-imposed, sporting activities were temporarily halted amid the immediate closure of indoor and outdoor sports complexes.

    The country had initially steered free from daily infections towards the second half of 2020 and early 2021, with further de-escalation measures announced and the resumption of sports in holding physical events both recreationally and competitively in adherence with procedures. With the Sultanate opening up sporting facilities and golf courses, the initial downscaling of measures introduced a series of guidelines including capacity of users being allowed to partake in recreational activities in phases.

    The varying stages of de-escalation measures and reduction of social distancing measures culminated in competitions being allowed for all sports to organise in March 2021.

    Outdoor sports activities including running which commonly involved mass participation were allowed provided that organisers met the condition that it was not competitive.

    Unlike during pre-pandemic times, the number of participants was capped in tandem with the number of people allowed for mass gatherings.

    This essentially means that completed times attained by the top runners were not officially counted for scoring purposes.

    In the absence of physical events, seminars, workshops and courses were organised, especially in football and netball, to strengthen capacity building among coaches, referees and instructors.

    In an effort to enhance the development of netball in the country, local coaches attended a workshop with the view of applying what they learnt in the Brunei Netball League, where they were provided an opportunity to manage a team in a real competitive environment.

    In July last year, 17 local participants received certificates following the completion of the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam’s (FABD) ‘B’ Diploma Coaching Course. This represents the association’s aspiration of producing qualified and certified coaches to ensure the progress of football in the country.

    A similar course was also held for participants attending the AFC ‘C’ Certificate Coaching Course in February.

    Such courses prepared coaches and referees for upcoming local competitions such as the Brunei Super League (BSL), which finally resumed after a year-long hiatus following a press conference on March 9, 2021.

    The much-welcomed announcement enabled popular team sports such as football and basketball to make plans and preparations in organising competitions.

    The FABD announced the commencement of the Brunei Super League in July to provide ample time for clubs to make preparations.

    After a lengthy wait, the Brunei Basketball Association (BBA) finally held the National Basketball League on April 16.

    The country was also gripped with basketball fever as the association organised the Veteran Basketball League in May and the much-anticipated You-C1000 Basketball Cup in June.

    Meanwhile, the golfing hierarchy had been actively organising competitions as the Brunei Darussalam Golf Association (BDGA) held the maiden Sonax Cup at the Pantai Mentiri Golf Club in March.

    News of the Pantai Mentiri Amateur Golf Championship and the Pusat Ehsan Charity Golf Tournament – widely known to be two of the three most prestigious tournaments in the local golfing calendar – making a return was well received by all golfers.

    Similarly, the Brunei Amateur Swimming Association (BASA) made efforts to revive the swimming scene by staging the 28th Brunei Age Group Swimming Championships (Long Course) and the 5th Brunei Sprints and Masters (Short Course) Swimming Championships.

    In a new normal for sports, clubs were also starting the practice of following standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as the wearing of face masks, providing hand sanitising facilities, temperature screening and scanning of QR codes for the BruHealth app.

    As international meets opened up, national athletes Muhammad Isa bin Ahmad and Muhammad Noor Firdaus Ar-Rasyid bin Haji Mohd Idris represented the country in swimming and athletics respectively at the Tokyo Olympics.

    Brunei also saw representation in the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates last December through Muhammad Isa and Christian Nikles. The swimming pair spent the final phase of their training in Dubai under the guidance of national coach Wu Na.

    Despite the lack of competitions primarily owed due to the pandemic, Muhammad Isa revised new national records in the 50m and 100m breaststroke events (short course).

    Local swimming athlete Nur Haziq bin Samil rewrote the national record in the 1,500m freestyle event after clocking a new time of 17:13.37s at the Thailand Age Group Swimming Championships.

    The national athlete has also been awarded a FINA Scholarship for 2022 to help him further his swimming education and boost his chances of representing the country in major international meets such as the World Aquatics Championships and the Olympic Games.

    In e-sports, local teams made an impression at the Southeast Asian ESports Championships (SEA EC) amid strong and more experienced opposition in the region.

    Brunei’s Buah Gaming roared to title contention in the final stage of the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) title category when they secured back-to-back ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’ (WWCD) statuses.

    With the final round of fixtures remaining, the local team jumped seven places from 10th to third in what transpired to be one of the country’s finest performances in an overseas meet.

    Earlier in the group stage, Brunei’s Auto Too Soon made a solid start after finishing the opening day of the PUBG competition in second place and walked away with a WWCD status.

    Meanwhile, in ensuring access and quality of basic sporting infrastructure, renovation works at the Menglait Sports Complex were completed in January 2021.

    One of the distinguishing features of the new-look complex which serves as a dedicated training venue for sports such as wushu and badminton – was the different colour tone on the walls strategically designed to complement the athletes’ training needs.

    The new gymnasium facility at FABD also serves to support the physical development of
    football players.

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