Sports get boost in new integrated recreation centre

KUCHING: A new integrated recreation centre at the Civic Centre car park here will not only offer sports facilities but serve as a venue for social and cultural activities.

Developed by the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA), the RM800,000 centre has basketball, futsal, volleyball and sepak takraw courts and an area for tai chi and wushu.

Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Datuk Seri William Mawan said it was also meant to be a social centre where young people could have activities like singing, dancing and cultural presentations.

“It will not only provide facilities for sports enthusiasts but will be a centre where we can engage the young people in activities that they like.

“It’s also where we can hold events such as Chinese New Year and Gawai open house. A stage can be erected here with stall all around selling food so that people can gather and enjoy themselves. If you have something at a hotel with 100 tables, for instance, only 1,000 people can enjoy themselves but if we have something here with an open stage and singing or beauty contests, more people can come and enjoy themselves for two or three days,” he told reporters after visiting the centre yesterday.

Mawan also said the centre would be a model for similar integrated recreation venues in other divisions.

“This is the beginning and I’ve told my officers that what happens here will happen in other towns. Over time I’m sure we can provide such places for our young people and sports lovers,” he said.

He added that his ministry and SLTA, which will jointly run the centre, were still working out the charges for using the sports facilities and booking the venue for events.

SLTA president Patrick Liew, meanwhile, said full-time security officers would be engaged to ensure safety at the centre.

“We must provide a safe place for the public, otherwise it will deter people from coming. So safety is our first priority. We want to make sure it’s safe and managed professionally,” he said.

The idea of developing the centre was mooted by SLTA last year in order to fully utilise the Civic Centre’s large car park area besides providing more sports and recreation facilities for the public.

The current 312 car park spaces will still be in use during the daytime while the sports facilities will be available for use in the evenings. Other facilities include WiFi, food and drink stalls, lighting and sound system for events.

On another matter, Mawan said his ministry was considering the Sarawak Bodybuilding Association’s proposal to run the Sarawak State Sports Council gym at the Civic Centre.

“We are looking into it seriously to see whether the gym can be privatised. We are still discussing the matter and we will follow up on it,” he said.

The association’s president Datuk Wee Hong Seng had said the proposal would enable state bodybuilders to use the gym for free while the public would be charged a nominal fee.

He also said the association hoped to engage former bodybuilders as trainers if given the opportunity to run the gym.

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