Making the Strike Interview with Singapore Bowling Federation President Jessie Phua

Jessie with Team

Jessie (2nd from left) with Team Singapore Womens keglers

TSL talks to President of the Singapore Bowling Federation, Jessie Phua on high performance, the National Bowling Centre, her time as a Chef de Mission for Team Singapore and thoughts for the sport of Bowling going forward.

TSL: Tell us a little about yourself and your background. 

Basically I am a late starter in sport !  Being a mother of 4 (aged 34/33/30/26) guess you can say I've been busy.  My journey in sport started with my swim-mom role (my eldest daughter Shu-Yan used to swim for Team Singapore whilst her younger sister Nikki represented Singapore at the age-group level).

TSL: Many Singaporeans are sports fans. Besides Bowling, are there any other sports that you do/follow and do you exercise? 

In my younger years, I used to bowl and also played a little tennis. Now I play golf.

I try to exercise at least 3 times a week, either work out in the gym or go for brisk walk/jog with my husband.

TSL: Since you’ve taken over the helm of the Singapore Bowling Federation, what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your tenure and how have you overcome them?

Challenges?Gosh! Would you have enough to space to cover this?!

In the early dark days, it was fending off creditors, firefighting with the media and getting our funding reinstated by the Singapore Sports Council (SSC). Basically, the challenges I faced are no different from other NSAs :recruiting good capable and committed people at both the Council and personnel levels and changing mindsets. SingaporeBowling has been quite successful in achieving the above and is now better poised compared to many other NSAs.

TSL: What are some of the capability development focused initiatives you’ve implemented for the organisation 

Empowerment, that was the most effective tool that helped propel us ahead. Believing our people, given time and opportunity, can and will get the job done.  

We boast of a team of 100% Singaporean coaches who helped formulate a transparent and robust athlete selection policy.

As for sponsorship, we decided to take a different route from other sports and have been handsomely rewarded in being able to bring onboard global brands like Canon and Singapore Airlines as our principal sponsors ! 

Jessie with Canon

Jessie with representatives from Canon


TSL: With the new Bowling facilities there is a lot of excitement and perhaps heightened expectation. How did the facilities come about, what is the purpose of these facilities and what are the benefits?

Singapore Bowling faced the same headaches as most other sports in Singapore - having a permanent and well-equipped training venue our athletes can depend on for regular and quality training.  

As we pondered and explored the project more intensely, it ignited a new goal for members of the General Council : Financial Independence ! 
So, yes we're tremendously proud and excited with the realisation of our dream, our own home at the new Temasek Club. We now not only can count on the convenience and benefit of a state-of-the-art training centre, this bowling centre can hopefully set us on the path to financial independence! 

TSL: Team Singapore Bowling did well at the recent SEA Games 2015 - what are your thoughts about the achievements and what are your expectations for Team Singapore Bowling going forward?

I have given our Team Singapore Bowling a B-rating for their performance at the recent SEA Games.  Whilst we were overjoyed by the brilliant performance by our Men's team, we were rather disappointed that the results of our Women's Team did not match up to its capability! That said, this is sport - totally unpredictable ! 

We do have quite a credible development programme in place for Team Singapore Bowling but we always take the stance that this aspect of our work is always 'Work In Progress' and endlessly search for ways and means to get better.

TSL: You’ve been a Chef De Mission (CDM) for Team Singapore previously – tell us more about that – what responsibilities does it entail and how does it shape the identity of the contingent. Were there any particular areas of attention for Team Singapore as a CDM that you focused on?

I shall always treasure the opportunity of having served as CDM for Team Singapore, such a privilege and honour!

As CDM, I focused my main attention to what can be done for our athletes to help and assist them to be able to do their best and if that translate to medals for Singapore, that's the icing on the cake.  Of course being the mother-hen that I am, I also never fail to remind our athletes to be exemplary role models as they are our country's ambassadors to the Games! Needless to say, my top priority is the wellbeing and safety of Team Singapore!

TSL: With the 8th ASEAN Para Games taking place in December - are there any initiatives that SBF will be involved in?

SingaporeBowling has always been a strong supporter of athletes with disabilities. We have our own CSR project BOWLinks, now into its 8th year.

 I believe we are one of the forerunners in Singapore to mainstream this support  by incorporating a division for the disabled bowlers in our national championships.

Our new centre, SingaporeBowling @ Temasek has been selected as the venue for the 8th ASEAN Para Games, rest assured that our entire bowling fraternity will be mobilized to help make this hosting a memorable Para Games for the participants as well as for the volunteers and spectators.

Team Singapore

TSL: Lastly, what are your personal aspirations for Singapore for sports and as a Nation?

I am so very blessed to be involved in sports in Singapore for the past 15 years or more.  This has been a most significant period in the transformation of sport in Singapore.  I'm so lucky to be in the right place at the right time to be part of this exciting phase of sport in Singapore.

Personally I hope that the drive for sport in Singapore doesn't get trapped in just blind pursuit of medals.  Helping our athletes to enjoy the journey, learn to be a better persons, building up self belief and gain self confidence, train for teamwork and most importantly, set a positive lifestyle for active consistent participation in sporting activities for the rest of their lives.


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