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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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    Paddling for glory

    Fadhil Yunus

    Boat racing is widely considered as one of the popularised traditional sports in the country, earlier pioneered by residents in Kampong Ayer and inherited from generation to generation dating back decades.

    Any mention of boat racing will bring back memories for enthusiasts and spectators alike of the excitement of either witnessing or taking part in a paddling race festival.

    In the olden days, a boat was seen as an important mode of transportation to residents based in Kampong Ayer. By owning or having access to a boat, it helped them earn a living to meet their daily needs such as fishing and others.

    Touching on boat racing, the Kampong Ayer residents are indeed skilled and steadfast, mainly in the paddling technique, and also possess strong stamina owed to activities in their daily lives.

    It is one of the older sports which is still receiving a response from the community, even though it is getting lesser and lesser each day due to the declining number of residents in Kampong Ayer.

    File photo of participants during the Brunei Darussalam Regatta 2018. PHOTO: MUIZ MATDANI

     

    According to historical records, boat races have been organised as early as the 1930s and are still preserved today.

    This sport is not only admired by the community but is also loved by royalty and distinguished people.

    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 leads the admiration for the sport, and has repeatedly engaged in such activities over the years.

    Whenever a boat race event takes place, joyous scenes erupt as all walks of life throng to the capital, particularly in the waterfront area, besides opportunities for the Kampong Ayer residents who live along the race course.

    However, time and conditions have changed so much now that the reliability of the boat paddlers and the skilled technique of paddling are no longer associated with earning a living, because such athletes are not necessarily used to water activities.

    Rowing skills must be taught and adequate training must be done, and must be systematic in enabling participants to gain physical strength and high stamina endurance.

    Since achieving independence, the country has experienced many changes not only in terms of progress in nation-building but also in sports.

    This is proven with the preparation of courts and sports facilities provided by the government to ensure that organising sports tournaments will be smooth.

    Other than the Department of Youth and Sports, which has greatly assisted in the development of boat racing, the Brunei Darussalam National Boat Race Association (PERKEBAR) also plays a central role in advocating the development and success of the sport besides the involvement of local rowing teams.

    As other sports associations in the country have their own national teams, perhaps PERKEBAR could also form a team which can represent the country to compete both locally and abroad as a national team mainly as a preparation for regional and international competitions, such as the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and others.

    Reflecting the era during the mid-80s until the end of the 90s, the Brunei Darussalam national boat racing team is seen as a respected force in the region, especially in the SEA Games, aside from events invited by other countries resulting in several successes.

    In ensuring a repeat of the glory days, a short and long-term plan could perhaps be crafted by relevant parties to attract more young rowers to be absorbed into national athletes.
    This matter includes providing training and coaching by competent coaches besides taking care of the rowers’ welfare.

    Other than that, joining a slew of competitions serves as a valuable experience to measure the ability of the abilities.

    By participating in many competitions in the local scene, will raise the spirits of the rowers to perform both in the regional and international scene.

    As a traditional sport, it must be sustained by any means possible and requires support from relevant parties so that it will not fade away, especially for present and future generations.

    As the re-opening of sports activities in the country gains momentum amid the recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic, PERKEBAR will restart the national boat racing scene by organising the 27th National Traditional Boat Race Championship at the Serasa Water Sports Complex this weekend.

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