The sporting fraternity nationwide received a welcome boost following the recent move by the authorities to remove restrictions on organising competitions and activities amid the cessation of the Early Endemic Phase.
As of June 1, all sport competitions are allowed, regardless of individual or team sports, subsequently marking the return of major and popular domestic meets commonly filled in various sporting associations’ calendars.
Prior to the announcement, limited sports events and activities were held with annual general meetings (AGMs) the notable exceptions.
Though training has been rigorously carried out, as has been highlighted by the national swimmers preparing for the 19th FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary and the various age group football teams, sport in a competitive nature was primarily absent.
The national netball team selection in preparation for the 12th Asian Netball Championship (ANC) in Singapore last month was perhaps one of the main sport events of the year organised by a sport association, other than competitions.
With athletes having previously shifted towards virtual training due to strict restrictions, the return to their usual environment in indoor and outdoor sports complexes and facilities were only allowed for use during the earlier phase of the Early Endemic Phase late last year.
During the first half of 2022, the country’s national athletes, mainly those in football, enjoyed action for the first time since the second wave of the pandemic, evident from the national team’s appearances in international friendly matches against Laos and Malaysia.
The Wasps were also able to play a series of friendly matches against local clubs in Saudi Arabia which further exposed the players to the high standards set by their continental rivals.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) recently released the latest sports facilities operational guidelines to provide an overview of the updated situation on sports at both the recreational and competitive level.
The guideline reads that all sporting events are allowed, including contact and non-contact sports, marking the resumption of sports which have been severely impacted since last August.
The 29th Brunei Age Group (BAG) Swimming Championships, one of the major domestic meets in the country, officially marked the resumption of sport competitions in the country on June 10.
Just three days later, the ongoing two-week long Squash Championship in conjunction with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s birthday celebration was held.
The squash meet – one of the main events in the sport’s annual calendar under the Brunei Squash Rackets Association (BSRA) – has been rescheduled since August last year.
More competitions have also been lined up in the coming months including the much-anticipated You-C1000 Basketball Cup – one of the main events in the local basketball season – and the Brunei Darussalam Golf Association (BDGA) Brunei Open 2022 both on June 25.
The most recent sport competition was the 3rd Panaga Lawn Bowls Singles Championship jointly organised by the Wisdom Bowls Club and the Panaga Lawn Bowls Club at the latter’s club court.
As team sports are allowed, domestic football clubs have arranged friendly matches to add on to their regular training routines, particularly with the FA Cup looming in August.
The under-19 national team tested their tactical plays that they worked on from countless training sessions during friendly matches against Brunei Super League (BSL) opposition.
The friendly matches benefitted both sides with the under-19 team in the advanced stages of their preparations ahead of their campaign in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Boys’ Championship.
The newly-assembled under-19 team enjoyed run-outs against Indera SC and Kota Ranger FC in a space of two days while the under-16 and under-23 teams also had friendly matches against Admirul Redstar FC and Kasuka FC, respectively.
The re-opening of sports was also well-received by recreational users with a steady rise seen in activities at popular outdoor sport venues such as the Ong Sum Ping ground, Menglait Sports Complex Football Field and the Public Works Department (JKR) Football Field.