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Why Temasek Club is the new hotspot for sports enrichment

The military social premises is also home to a bowling body and fencing, table tennis and swim academies.

It is a social and interaction space for military personnel, but what some may not know about Temasek Club is that it is becoming a base for the nation's past, present and possibly future elite sportsmen.

Not only is the club along Rifle Range Road home to the Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF), it is also where former national paddler Wang Yuegu and two-time Asian Games champion swimmer Tao Li have set up their table tennis and swimming academies, respectively.

Fencing school Modern Fencing Academy also moved into the premises last November.

The SBF had unveiled its headquarters in October 2015, and president Jessie Phua told The Sunday Times: "What we're comforted by is that the disruptions are minimal and we can install tools that aid our training programme, like Dartfish (a technology that allows athletes' performances to be captured and analysed) and video playback."

National bowler Shayna Ng agreed.

"The place is very conducive for us," said the 27-year-old. "In the past we used to have to hop around bowling centres based on their availability, and sometimes, when they had other events, we might have to cancel training.

"Now our training is not disrupted because we know for sure that we can train every day."

Phua added: "We couldn't ask for a better landlord in Temasek Club; they've been very supportive in meeting our needs."

In fact, it was she who suggested that Tao consider setting up base at the club, when she learnt that the latter was pondering over starting her own academy.

Said Tao, who started her Taoli Swimming Club in December 2015: "When we met at one of the Sports Awards nights, (Phua) found out I was looking for a pool and she told me there might be a place for me at Temasek Club, so she linked me up with them."

Related: How to encourage children to try new sports 

While the club's 50m pool has neither the diving blocks nor the eight to 10 swimming lanes that Olympic pools have, Tao maintained that it is still "good enough" to teach the basics of the sport to an estimated 70 to 80 children under her charge.

"What I want is for these young swimmers, who are aged between five and 10, is to just get started," said the 26-year-old.

Praising the facilities of the club, which include a playground and water park, she added: "The kids really like the playground and water park.

"You have to get them to just enjoy the sport and being in the water first, rather than jump straight into competitive swimming.

"It's more important that they like the sport first."

Modern Fencing Academy's director Eugenia Panfilova was equally complimentary of the Temasek Club's facilities.

Said the Russian: "Everything here including the air-conditioning is brand new and of good quality.

"We have a lot of metal weapons and masks that need to be stored at the right temperature, so it's important that the temperature and humidity of the room are not too high."

The fencing school, which has groomed national junior fencers like Bron Sheum and Elliot Han and senior fencer Jeremy Tan, started in 2007 and moved to its current location last November.

Panfilova said: "The school of fencing builds back to the history of the sport when fencing started as a form of military training, and we wanted to be related to the military."

The 45-year-old also said that Modern Fencing Academy has a long-term lease lasting about eight to 10 years at Temasek Club, whereas the lease at its previous location was renewed on a yearly basis.

She added: "There's that element of stability that makes it easier to plan ahead, and our facility now is about three times bigger than our previous one. Our studio is about 5,000 sq ft, which can fit about four Olympic-level pistes, each 14 metres long."

Temasek Club did not comment by press time.

Related: Choosing sports enrichment: what you need to know 

A version of this story first appeared in The Straits Times.

(Photo: ST)

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