By Jose Raymond
In April 2003, when I was still a journalist at TODAY, I exposed how the touts had taken control of the booking systems and were exploiting the loopholes for profit. (A New Field for the Tout, Page 2, TODAY, 26 April 2003)
Some 18 years on, it appears that the issue is still a thorn among recreational sports enthusiasts, based on reports in the Straits Times over the last week or so.
The governing agency Sport Singapore has since said that it has blacklisted and suspended the accounts of users it suspects are reselling facility space.
However, this is only a short term reaction, which explains some scepticism, and does not seem to address the central cause of this phenomenon.
There has always been a demand for facilities use, whether outdoor fields or indoor courts.
As such, the key to solving the issue would be or the provision of more facilities for use by the public.
The Dual-Use Scheme was started where facilities in schools can be opened up for public use on weekends, to address this scarcity issue.
There are about 290 such facilities for use today but it is obvious that this is still understandably insufficient, given the changes in Singapore’s population and demographics.
Furthermore, Covid-19 and the inability for people to travel or engage in pub crawling or other social activities will only mean that some (or many) will find their way to sports courts for social and recreational activities with friends.
It is a potential game-changer for the sports administrators in its move to get people moving, and to remain fit.
There is a need for urban planners and the sports administrators to work together to set aside more spaces for sports use in new neighbourhoods, and also look at the possibility of repurposing areas for use as futsal courts or even other forms of activities.
This also means having the schools which are not yet on the Dual-Use facilities scheme on boarded, for the common good.
There is a demand for sports facilities, which is a happy problem for sports administrators.
The scarcity of sports facilities is the root cause which needs to be addressed.
Kudos to the Straits Times journalists for raising the issue over the last week or so.