Another badminton coach, Mr Ashton Chen, 35, is on the same page. He could see how the ballot system can become frustrating for coaches if their sessions depended on a “lucky draw”. 

Mr Chen proposed splitting the quota for the courts so that registered coaches may book through the first-come-first-served system, whereas the ballot can be for all players.

“For example, if a school hall has eight badminton courts, perhaps four can be allocated for coaches using the old system, and the other four are available for balloting.

“This way, coaches can book their courts more regularly without worrying about a random selection disrupting their scheduled lessons,” he said. 

Ms Tian Qiuyan, 40, who is captain of recreational tennis club OTM, said that the balloting system creates a lot more uncertainty. 

“It’s pure luck, like the lottery (whereas the old system is based on) effort, and you get rewarded for waking up early to book your slot.” 

As an alternative, Ms Tian said that it would help if ActiveSG allowed cancellations and introduced a waiting list for the old system. 

“So if someone cancels, the next in line will have the slot and get charged for booking it. (ActiveSG) can also fix the latest cancellation timings, like no cancellation allowed if it’s within one or two hours of your booking.” 

Similarly, badminton coach Eng Chin An, 26, who also prefers the old system, said that there should be a waiting list for the next interested party to take over the court, allowing the previous party to cancel and get a refund. 

“And if the next interested party doesn’t accept within a specified period, then it automatically goes to the second in line.” 

Product manager Kelvin Loh, 30, said that introducing a new system to replace the old one does not tackle the root problem, which is that there is more demand than supply. 

“It would be better if ActiveSG and the Ministry of Education can work out a mutually beneficial arrangement, such as opening school sports facilities on weekdays instead of only on weekends,” he said. 

“Then the fees collected on these days will go to the schools, like paying a security guard who has to work overtime or for regular maintenance purposes.”

Infotechnology professional Anthony Yeong, 43, who plays badminton with his children, said that the ballot system was a step in the wrong direction because it does not provide transparency on how the ballot is conducted. 

“The stress of booking courts will not be reduced either, because we have to wait one day to know the result. If we fail to secure targeted slots, then we have another stressful task to seek an alternative. 

“I would rather be under stress once with the system today than twice and for prolonged hours with the ballot,” he added. 

As a possible solution, Mr Yeong also suggested a hybrid model, in which 10 to 20 per cent of the capacity goes to the ballot system, reserved for people with special needs.  

“If hiring a warden for spot checks is too expensive and not sustainable, initiate a snap-and-reward system around it. This would allow anyone at the venue to validate and verify if the booker is present. For example, a photo of the person who made the booking would be publicly available without other private information.

“It would be better if more courts could be built, too,” he said. 

TODAY has sought SportSG’s comment on these suggestions, but it did not respond at the time of publication. 


TODAY also asked SportSG for more details on the ballot system, such as the percentage of facilities selected for balloting and whether plans are underway to roll it out for all facilities eventually, but it did not respond directly. 

It replied to say that it would continue to develop and rejuvenate infrastructure to meet Singaporeans’ evolving sporting needs, interests and aspirations under the Sports Facilities Master Plan, a key initiative of the national sports blueprint Vision 2030.

“We welcomed several new and rejuvenated sporting facilities recently, including ActiveSG Sport Village@Jurong Town and Delta Sport Centre. 

“We are also building more facilities such as the Farrer Park Sport Centre, Punggol Regional Sport Centre and Toa Payoh Integrated Development, and refurbishing others such as Queenstown Sport Centre and soon, Hougang Sport Centre,” it added.

It also said that more than 370 facilities, including indoor sports halls and free-to-play fields, have been made available under the Dual-Use Scheme. 

Under this scheme, school facilities such as outdoor fields and indoor sport halls at primary and secondary schools are open for public use, and bookings can be made through the ActiveSG mobile application.

“These collectively seek to address the needs of our diverse stakeholders, which include our citizens and our elite athletes, against the backdrop of a land-scarce Singapore.”


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