Sports in Colonial Times
Sports in Singapore can be traced back to the 19th Century, during the colonial period when the Colonials turned to sport to make bearable the long wait for news from the United Kingdom. Sports also provided an alternative form of recreation to other less action-oriented activities such as local amateur theatre and dinner parties.
The Colonials set up sports clubs where they could enjoy their sporting activities and interact with their community. It is important to realise that sports was very much a luxury during those times, available only to the privileged few. The locals had few, if any, opportunities to indulge in such activities, preferring to concentrate on making ends meet. The sports clubs were thus established mainly by colonials to be used by their own kind.
With time, the number of Asian immigrants increased and various communal clubs were established to serve their respective communities. Some of these clubs were the Chinese Swimming Club, the Indian Association and the Ceylon Sports Club. These, together with the colonial clubs, played a key role in the development of sports in early Singapore.
National Sports Associations
With the growing interest in sports, the British Colonials built a number of public sports facilities during the 1930s to 50s. Mount Emily Swimming Complex, Farrer Park Sports Complex and Yan Kit Swimming Complex are such examples. Some of these facilities have since undergone major changes.
Associations for specific sports were also formed during this time such as the Singapore Rifle Association, Football Association of Singapore and the Singapore Rugby Union. Such sports clubs eventually became the National Sports Associations we know today.