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Overcoming adversity to shine in SCDF

Two SCDF NSmen who have overcome tremendous challenges during National Service (NS) and in their personal lives, share how grit, determination and heaps of support have been crucial in helping them to succeed.

TEXT: KEENAN PEREIRA

PHOTOS: WO2 (NS) MUHAMMAD RIDZWAN, CPT (NS) KYAW THET TIN

When we ask CPT (NS) Kyaw Thet Tin and WO2 (NS) Muhammad Ridzwan Bin Baharudin about how NS has impacted their lives, both point to the discipline that NS has instilled in them.

“Before NS and even during my first few months of service, I was still not very mature,” reveals Ridzwan, 35. “But the physical training and drills made a difference. Faced with these challenges, I felt the urge to mature and take charge.”

Ridzwan’s sense of maturity proved to be crucial when he became a father four years ago. “My daughter was born with Down’s syndrome. Finding a way to take care of her while maintaining an adequate income was quite stressful initially,” recalled Ridzwan, who works as a senior technician at a major oil and gas company.

STEPPING DOWN, STEPPING UP AND DIVERSIFYING

Eventually, Ridzwan’s wife decided to give up her job as an administrative assistant, even though the forgone income was substantial. This allowed her to care for their daughter at home. “But that also meant that I had to step up and contribute more by taking up more overtime shifts. We also started a business on the side, so that we could grow our finances.”

He credits his time in NS for giving him the discipline and motivation to do the best for his family. “In NS, we are taught to do our best for the country and our loved ones, so there were many parallels when it came to doing my part for the family.”

It is something that Kyaw, 32, understands very well too. He is new to fatherhood – his son was born in October 2023. “It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be,” he jokes. “But I’m glad that my wife and our extended family have been a rock through it all, helping us to cope.”

Kyaw is a harbour pilot with PSA Singapore, continuing his seafaring ways that began while in NS. “Actually, it was my time as a marine firefighter that got me interested in harbour work,” he reveals. In his present role, he pilots ships to safely berth in Singapore.

TRANSITIONING TO LEADERSHIP

Both men share the common experience of transitioning from a follower to a leader. “It was a bit of a shock for me,” said Ridzwan, who will soon be appointed as Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) at 21 Rescue Unit. “As a RSM, I will play a more active role in managing people, overseeing their discipline and overall preparedness. This will require a gradual mindset shift.”

Kyaw recalls the early days in which he first took on a leadership role. “I had to remind myself that I am responsible for the safety and welfare of the 180 or so NSmen under me in the fire station. Their ages range from 21 to their 30s. When they come for reservist, I encourage them to do their best in their IPPT. ‘Do it once and do it well’ is my mantra.”

Kyaw went on to receive the NS Excellence Award (NSEA) in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Ridzwan also received the accolade in 2017 and 2019. The award recognises good performance during In-Camp Training (ICT) or NS training courses. Both men credit their units for being supportive, with commanders who are willing to go the extra mile in providing mentorship and guidance.

Ridzwan recalled how fortunate he was to have his unit’s support when his daughter was first born. “Back then, she had so many appointments at the hospital. It is not easy to manage a child with special needs alone, so I would ask my Commanding Officer for time off to assist my wife. I was very grateful for his kind understanding and was inspired to do the same for my men.”

Now that he has become a father, Kyaw could better appreciate the challenges faced by other fathers in SCDF. “When my men need to take care of their children or bring them to medical appointments, I am more understanding. After all, we are family too. And family comes first.”

LOOKING AHEAD

CPT (NS) Kyaw: I want to be the best version of myself in every sphere: as a father, as a worker, as a husband, as a son, and as an NSMan.

WO2 (NS) Ridzwan: I want to make my family proud.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Club Buzz Spotlight

Intern insights: Unveiling the heart of HomeTeamNS

Three interns reflect on their time at HomeTeamNS, taking us behind the scenes to reveal what goes into making every visitor’s experience both safe and enjoyable.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

As an intern at T-Play, an indoor playground for kids at HomeTeamNS, Ms Rachel Poh enjoys birthday celebrations the most – though she is never the birthday girl.

Ms Poh, who is studying for her Nitec in Sport Management at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) West, helps to manage children’s activities and host birthday parties in addition to her other duties at T-Play: Conducting safety briefings, assisting guests with their enquiries and handling day-to-day operations.

Ms Rachel Poh helps manage children’s activities and host birthday parties, and derives joy from ensuring every child’s birthday is unforgettable.
Ms Rachel Poh helps manage children’s activities and host birthday parties, and derives joy from ensuring every child’s birthday is unforgettable.

During one party, where she was doing her utmost to ensure her young guests were having a great time at T-Play, she was touched to find her efforts recognised with a slice of cake offered by the birthday child.

“I find joy in my internship because it pushes me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to engage with diverse groups of kids in a work environment,” she reflected.

HELPING TO MAKE THE GYM A HOME FOR MEMBERS

Ms Poh’s fellow interns Muhammad Izuan from ITE East and Jordan Oh from ITE West – who are both enrolled in the Nitec in Sport Management programme as well – agree that their internships at HomeTeamNS have been enjoyable and educational.

Mr Izuan, an intern at Fitness Workz Garage at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir, said that working at HomeTeamNS “feels like being home”.

“Everyone, from my colleagues to supervisors, is super friendly, making me feel like I’m part of the team,” he explained. “The comfort they offer while I’m working fills me with energy and confidence, helping me give my best every day. I’m grateful for the support I receive from each one of them.”

His responsibilities include conducting group fitness classes for members and visiting guests, as well as ensuring that the gym remains a secure and welcoming space for members daily.

Armed with a friendly smile, Mr Muhammad Izuan helps create a supportive environment through his interactions with guests.
Armed with a friendly smile, Mr Muhammad Izuan helps create a supportive environment through his interactions with guests.

For gym users who are uncertain about how to use the equipment or those who need advice on their exercise routines, Mr Izuan suggests seeking assistance from Fitness Workz Garage employees like himself.

“We’re here with a friendly smile to offer a helping hand and share tips. It’s our responsibility to assist and make sure everyone feels comfortable and confident, creating a supportive fitness community.”

He considers having chats with gym members as one of his favourite moments at work. “I truly love these talks because they build strong and happy connections,” he said. “There are countless times when members share stories about their day, and we end up laughing heartily together.”

LOOKING UP TO ROLE MODELS AT AQUA ADVENTURE

From organising games to conducting safety briefings, Mr Jordan Oh’s internship has enabled him to hone vital skills and learn to navigate challenging situations.
From organising games to conducting safety briefings, Mr Jordan Oh’s internship has enabled him to hone vital skills and learn to navigate challenging situations.

Learning to work with the public has also been part of Mr Oh’s internship experience at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir’s Aqua Adventure. Besides organising games, he delivers safety briefings and assists with participants’ needs throughout their visit.

“Working at HomeTeamNS equips me with customer service training and teaches me how to handle challenging situations. I’ve learnt the value of teamwork, too. Collaborating with my colleagues has not only enabled me to quickly grasp new concepts but has also propelled us to make substantial progress together.”

One memorable event for Mr Oh was a full-time staff member’s last day at work.

“He is normally very strict and stern during operational hours, but on that particular day, he expressed his love working at Aqua Adventure and conducted the games for participants himself when usually the part-timers and interns do it,” he recounted.

NEW YEAR, NEW HOPES AND DREAMS

The staff member’s care and dedication – even on his last day – made an impression on Mr Oh, who hopes to set up his own badminton coaching venture one day.

“From my time at HomeTeamNS, I’ve learnt strategies to attract and retain customers for the academy I plan to establish,” he said, adding that his new year’s resolution for 2024 is to excel in his modules and continue working on his business ideas.

Ms Poh, who aspires to work in the sporting industry, said that her internship has taught her to be persevering and emotionally resilient. “It’s a fast-paced job which needs multi-tasking at times, as we have an administrative workload in addition to customer service interaction. I’ve learnt to master my emotions, especially during peak periods. It’s a skill that’s significant when it comes to handling overwhelming situations effectively.”

Her new year’s resolution is to pursue a lifesaving course and to continue upgrading herself.

Similarly, Mr Izuan expressed his desire to continue improving himself in the coming year. “My big education goal is to get my diploma. Being at HomeTeamNS has taught me to always try my hardest. Even when things get super tough, I won’t give up – I’m determined to do my best!”

He is motivated by the desire to give back to the community, after seeing the efforts made by HomeTeamNS staff when serving members and the public daily.

“What makes me feel all warm and fuzzy is seeing how much the people at HomeTeamNS care. They’re always working hard to give their best, and their dedication to making things awesome for everyone just makes my heart happy.” 

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Food

7 restaurants where you can enjoy auspicious CNY meals

Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with your family by feasting on sumptuous dishes rich in significance and flavour at these restaurants, some of which offer discounts for HomeTeamNS members.

PHOTOS: SWATOW CITY; ORCHID SEAFOOD; XIAO MU DENG; SUM DIM SUM; BAN HENG; KENG ENG KEE (KEK) SEAFOOD; YAN PALACE

TEXT: THERESE TAY

Chinese New Year (CNY) feasting is a joyous tradition celebrated by families to usher in prosperity and good fortune for the coming year. In Singapore, symbolic dishes and treats such as yu sheng (raw fish salad) and nian gao (sweet glutinous rice cake) — which denote abundance, prosperity, and happiness — are shared among loved ones amid a convivial atmosphere.

We’ve rounded up restaurants — including some that offer delectable discounts for HomeTeamNS members — for a communal dining experience replete with the usual symbolism-laden suspects, as well as lesser-known dishes.  

Swatow City

Located at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok, Swatow City is well known for its authentic Teochew-style seafood dishes. Their use of light seasoning is one of the hallmarks of Teochew cooking, which seeks to bring out the natural flavours of the ingredients. Signature offerings include Teochew Cold Crab, Steamed Pomfret, and Braised Superior Shark’s Fin, which are all CNY mainstays. For a truly sumptuous feast, order their Grandeur Reunion Prosperity Fortune Pot Takeaway Combo Set which includes a dish containing premium ingredients such as abalone, sea cucumber and dried scallops, along with prawns and pig’s trotter— as well as yu sheng with smoked salmon and kampung chicken in Teochew bean sauce. Don’t forget to bring home the restaurant’s Delicious Crafted Pineapple Tarts ($20+ for a box of eight).

HomeTeamNS members enjoy 20% discount for dine-in ala carte, dim sum, and non-promotional items (Not applicable on 9, 11, and 12 February 2024). 

Orchid Live Seafood

Famously known as the home of the original Lobster Porridge — which is more a pao fan (rice steeped in a rich seafood broth) rather than congee — Orchid Live Seafood’s HomeTeamNS Khatib branch offers several signature dishes that customers keep returning for. These include the Steven Chicken, which is marinated with marmite and honey and deep-fried with a crispy batter. Also don’t miss their Abalone Yu Sheng and Boston Lobster Yu Sheng, which will elevate your lou hei sesson.

 HomeTeamNS members enjoy 10% off the total bill (applicable for regular menu only).

Xiao Mu Deng

Sharing a hotpot meal with loved ones is a quintessential Singaporean CNY tradition. What’s not to love about cooking and enjoying your food together over a bubbling pot of nourishing soup with all the fixings? At Xiao Mu Deng, you can partake in this delicious ritual without having to fuss with clean-up. The restaurant at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir offers interesting Chongqing-style side dishes such as Pickled Pepper Kidney, Knife Slap Cucumber (cucumber salad with a tangy sauce), and Tin Foil Roasted Pig Brain Flower (grilled pig brains).

HomeTeamNS members enjoy 15% off the bill (applicable for non-promotional items).

Sum Dim Sum

Though not a conventional CNY dining destination, you can certainly create your own traditions with family and friends at the popular Sum Dim Sum restaurant, which is located at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir. It boasts a large variety of tasty handmade dim sum, including their signature Tiffany Blue XL Prawn Dumplings as well as branch-exclusive items such as Century Egg Prawn Paste, Jin Qian Bao (mushroom-filled steamed dumplings), and Steamed Fresh Leopard Grouper.

HomeTeamNS members enjoy 15% off the bill (applicable for non-promotional items).

Ban Heng

Established in 1972, the Ban Heng group of restaurants has gained a reputation for serving some of the best Teochew and Cantonese cuisine on the island. Its large range of reunion dinner and CNY celebration packages — currently available for bookings — include traditional favourites such as Steamed Live Soon Hock with Superior Soya Sauce in Hong Kong Style, Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, and Sweetened Yam Paste in Teochew Style.

Keng Eng Kee (KEK) Seafood

This popular zi char (cooked food) restaurant is rightfully beloved for its no-nonsense, boldly flavoured stir fries that are full of wok hei (smoky) goodness. Must-order dishes include their Coffee Pork Ribs and Moonlight Hor Fun, which is topped with a raw egg yolk. KEK is offering more elegant dishes for CNY, which are no less delicious. Items on the CNY set menus include Premium Collagen Soup and Tobiko Seafood Ee Fu Noodles.

Yan Palace

This Chinatown mainstay has been operating at Hong Lim Complex for decades, where it made a name for itself with its delicious Cantonese cooking and Hong Kong-inspired dim sum. Its CNY set menus, which will be offered at both the Hong Lim Complex and Warren Golf & Country Club branches, feature down-to-earth dishes and premium items such as Roasted Suckling Pig, Roasted ‘Pi Pa’ Duck, Stir Fried Scallop with Broccoli & Macadamia Nuts, and Double Boiled Hasma with Dried Longan & Lotus Seeds.

Auspicious CNY Dishes

Learn the significance behind these Chinese New Year delicacies.

Pen cai: Also known as “fortune pot”, this dish symbolises good fortune and prosperity. A labour of love, it features eight stacked layers of premium seafood and other ingredients, such as roasted pork belly, prawns, and large mushrooms.

Yu sheng: Essentially a raw fish salad, the communal dish denotes prosperity and good tidings in the way it is eaten: besides adding the dish components in a specific sequence while shouting meaningful Chinese couplets, diners also spout various auspicious sayings and wishes as they toss it before eating.

Nian gao: Pronounced in Mandarin, nian gao also sounds like “a higher year” which is loosely translated to mean “a better year”. Legend has it that the sweet and sticky glutinous rice cake was created to seal the mouth of the Kitchen God shut to prevent him from bad-mouthing households to the Jade Emperor.

Tang yuan: The round shape and mandarin pronunciation of the filled glutinous rice balls allude to a reunion with loved ones. Thus, it’s said that eating tang yuan brings good luck to families.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

Categories
In The Force

How we help keep Singapore safe through SGSecure

Go behind the scenes to find out how the Home Team Agencies are driving the initiative that helps counter terrorism and prepare the community for emergencies.

BY MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: MHA

The terror threat remains very real and Singapore is a prized target. Launched in September 2016, the SGSecure movement is Singapore’s community response to the threat of terrorism. SGSecure is the national movement to sensitise, train and mobilise the community to play a part to prevent and deal with a terror attack. By leveraging the power of the community, it aims to heighten vigilance, enhance resilience and strengthen social cohesion during peacetime so that our people are better-equipped to deal with a terrorist attack.

Engaging different segments of the community through public agencies, the SGSecure Programme Office (SSPO) from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Joint Operations Group, oversees the SGSecure movement with support from other government agencies and the Home Team Departments, namely the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

We speak to three officers from the SSPO, SPF and SCDF to find out how they help to achieve this important mission, and how the public can contribute towards the movement.

EVOLVING WITH THE COMMUNITY

Since its inception, the SGSecure programme has evolved through the movement’s constant engagement  with the public. The Community Response Roundtable (CRRT), for instance, provides a platform for an open dialogue with key stakeholders and community groups to co-create plans for emergency responses. 

This was demonstrated at the Bukit Panjang Town CRRT, in September 2022, where members unanimously indicated it was essential to learn lifesaving skills. This led to increased participation in SCDF’s Community Emergency Preparedness Programme to learn about firefighting, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Ms Seah Wei Ying, 31, who is currently Senior Manager (Programmes) with the SSPO, shared that this feeds into the new phase of SGSecure that was announced in July 2023. She added that the tagline, ‘What’s Your Role?’, calls on Singaporeans to discover the role we can each play in combating terrorism.”

As a civilian officer,  Seah works with uniformed colleagues from diverse backgrounds. For now, she is overseeing the new series of roadshows launched in September 2023 to promote the new phase of SGSecure through interactive engagement and gamification.

“My colleagues and I have been working closely with our partners to develop content for the roadshows, which have new interactive elements to make it a more engaging and exciting experience for youths,” reveals Seah. She cites examples such as a memory game that helps individuals identify signs of radicalisation, a motion sensor-enabled game that trains them to get to safety during an attack and a word-hunting game that promotes the kampung spirit.

Scheduled to be held at Jurong Point from 29 to 31 March 2024, the next roadshow will be a fun and engaging way for the public to learn about their role in the collective response against terror threats.

“There is no act too small in our fight against terrorism. Every little thing we do can make a big difference in keeping Singapore safe from terrorism,”  Seah says.

CONNECTING WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

Instantly recognisable in their uniforms, SPF officers are a reassuring presence for many. Besides maintaining law and order, they also serve as safety ambassadors on the ground.

As an officer at the Community Policing Unit (CPU) of Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre, Sergeant (Sgt) Muhammad Asyraf enjoys conducting patrols to interact with residents. “Being a CPU officer provides me with the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and learn about their different experiences,” he explains. Together with the volunteers from Citizens on Patrol and Volunteer Special Constabulary, he also shares crime prevention tips with residents.

As part of his SGSecure outreach efforts, the 33-year-old conducts house visits to residents. “During our engagement sessions with residents, we share the SGSecure advisories and encourage them to download the SGSecure mobile application to better understand how they can prepare themselves even during peacetime,” he shares. There, he is often asked by residents: “Isn’t Singapore safe and not a target of terrorist attack?”

To that, he reiterates how “a terrorist attack can occur anywhere, at any time”.

Sgt Asyraf also reaches out to younger Singaporeans at schools, where he advises them on how to stand united against terrorism by identifying signs of radicalisation in loved ones and caring for them: “Create a safe space for the individual to share their thoughts or concerns, and assure him or her that  he or she is doing the right thing by not keeping  his or her feelings to himself or herself,” he stresses.  “At the same time, be sensitive to how the individual is feeling and show empathy.”

FIRST TO THE SCENE

(LTA) Sasha Ong from SCDF is keenly aware that every second matters when it comes to an emergency response. As a public education officer, she helps to coordinate the Responders Plus Programme (restructured in December 2023 from the Community Emergency Preparedness Programme). Conducted free-of-charge at the four SCDF divisional headquarters, the programme equips the public with essential life-saving skills, such as the use of CPR-AED, basic firefighting and first aid techniques.

The 28-year-old has seen the positive impact of Community First Responders (CFRs), who have rendered aid by helping to extinguish minor fires and administering CPR and AED on cardiac arrest patients.

“CFRs play a crucial role as they act as the first line of help during emergencies — they are often the ones nearest to the fire incident or cardiac arrest victim, and they can provide immediate assistance before SCDF arrives,” (LTA) Ong explains. “One of the most important emergency preparedness skills is knowing how to administer CPR and use the AED. When a cardiac arrest occurs, time is of the essence, and every minute plays a critical role in determining the outcome,” she adds.

The Responders Plus Programme draws an average of 700 to 800 participants each month. However, (LTA) Ong notes a sense of wariness in some.  “Some CFRs are apprehensive about performing CPR on cardiac arrest patients, expressing their fear of causing more harm than good,” she shares, stressing that the underlying dynamics of such fears must be addressed through increased education to boost the programme’s effectiveness.

Nonetheless, she is buoyed by the successes she’s witnessed. For instance, a friend who had trained as a CFR responded to a cardiac arrest case via the myResponder app and brought an AED to the patient’s home.

“Another community responder had arrived at the home before her and commenced CPR, so she assisted to place the AED pads on the patient and deliver one shock before the arrival of SCDF,” (LTA) Ong recounts. “This touched me greatly and reinforced the idea that anyone can be a community responder,” says the young officer.

HOW YOU CAN JOIN THE SGSECURE MOVEMENT

Discover your role with a quiz: Everyone has a role in keeping Singapore safe from terrorism. Find out yours through this personality quiz.

Join us as an SGSecure Responder: Your timely assistance to someone in need can help save a life. Sign up here.  

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

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Club Buzz

We celebrated HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir’s first anniversary by spreading joy

The anniversary celebrations saw youth beneficiaries of social service agencies participating in various exciting activities at Action Motion.

TEXT: AUDRINA GAN

IMAGES: HOMETEAMNS

Navigating the multi-tiered obstacle course at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir’s Action Motion, energetic youths embraced their competitive spirit as they attempted challenges at various heights and difficulty levels. “Climbing through the obstacles helped me to focus and think about my next step. I now feel more confident about tackling life’s challenges,” said a female participant from the Malay Youth Literary Association 4PM.

Her sentiments were echoed by another participant from Care Corner Youth Services, who said climbing the facility’s rock wall helped him to overcome his fear of heights. “Rock climbing pushes us to be resilient and to never give up,” he shared. “It’s also a sport that requires us to strategise, as we decide where to place our arms and hands to make the ascent.”

YOUTHS AT PLAY

The experience was part of HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir’s first anniversary kickoff celebrations held on 10 December 2023, whereby 89 youths from social service organisations SHINE Children and Youth Services, Malay Youth Literary Association 4PM, and Care Corner Youth Services were invited to participate in a host of adrenaline-pumping activities across high-tech installations at Action Motion.

The youths demonstrated determination and resilience as they clambered up the digital boulder wall of Valo Climb, tested their agility against a background of virtual landscapes at Valo Jump, and balanced on slim poles and nets at Rapid Action. The atmosphere was vibrant, with loud cheers and laughter ringing throughout the attraction.

Mr Muhd Saufi, vice president of the Malay Youth Literary Association 4PM, said the event allowed his youth volunteers to take time off their busy schedules to have fun. “Going through the obstacles together has helped our volunteers and board members to build better rapport,” he said.

STRENGTHENING COMMUNITY BONDS

The event, which exemplified the community spirit, was a fitting way to kick-start a two-month long campaign of exciting events organised in celebration of HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir’s first anniversary. Officially opened on 4 January 2023, the five-storey, 14,500 sqm clubhouse has brought together families to play, dine, and learn. Guests and members alike have enjoyed countless hours of fun at its state-of-the-art facilities the likes of indoor water adventure centre Aqua Adventure, family-friendly East Villa, which offers stunning views of the reservoir, and more.

HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir pulled out all the stops to commemorate its inaugural anniversary, which featured a guest appearance by local actor and singer Glenn Yong. The dashing star engaged participants in an exhilarating game of ‘aquatic dog and bone’ at Aqua Adventure, which saw teams competing to snatch a frisbee placed atop a floating platform, following specific cues given by Glenn.

Besides the playful antics, the artiste also toured the clubhouse facilities, spreading warmth and good vibes as he greeted his fans. Noting that he did not have access to such facilities while he was growing up, Glenn encouraged the youths to spend more time at the Bedok Reservoir clubhouse. “I hope that these facilities will give you guys a place to study and hang out with your friends and family. It can also be a place for you to find out what you love to do and hopefully this can be a safe haven for many of you to hang out in the future,” he said.

This was summed up by a participant from Shine Children and Youth Services, who shared that hanging out at Action Motion enabled her to have some “play time with her mum”— something she hasn’t been able to enjoy for a long time due to their busy schedules. “I also get to have some fun and exercise at the same time,” she concluded.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Club Buzz

HomeTeamNS Fitness Ironman returns!

HomeTeamNS Fitness Ironman: The annual bodybuilding and physique sport contest is back – and in better shape than ever.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

With the last HomeTeamNS Fitness Ironman competition taking place in 2019, this year’s Show of Hunks – both the official theme and an apt descriptor of the event – was a lively celebration of discipline, determination and the hard work required to push the limits of the human body and mind.

Fitness Ironman, which started in 2015, aims to create greater awareness of bodybuilding and physique sport. The 2023 competition was held on Nov 25 alongside the inaugural HomeTeamNS Fitness Expo, at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir.

The two-day event showcased free and affordably-priced trendy workouts. These included the dance-oriented Zumba Partay to sweat-it-out Spinning, heart-pumping Chairobics and calming Sunset Zen Yoga. Attendees who preferred to exercise their wallets browsed an array of retail and partner booths such as Singlife, Optimum Nutrition, Activ.Co and Mighty Meal Prep.

The star attractions, however, were the 37 participants of the Fitness Ironman competition segment, who competed in six categories: Men’s Denim Model (Open), Men’s Physique (Open – Short) below 170cm, Men’s Physique (Open – Tall) 171cm and above, Men’s Physique (Juniors) 14 to 17 years old, Men’s Physique (HomeTeamNS), and Men’s Physique (Novice) First Timers. Winners took home more than S$4,000 worth of cash and prizes in total from sponsors Singlife, Optimum Nutrition and Fitness Workz.

DETERMINATION AND SACRIFICE: THE RETURN OF A CHAMPION

Just as the competition made a comeback, Danial Azman, 31, saw his own triumphant return as overall champion for 2023 – a title he held last in 2017.

Danial, who was a Fireman SGT(2) during his National Service days, competed in Fitness Ironman since its beginning until 2018, when he stopped to focus on his family. He credits his reclaimed champion status to his wife’s backing: “The number one supporter behind my every success is my wife. She has been there through my highs and lows,” he said.

Danial was named first in two categories: Men’s Physique (Open – Short) below 170cm and Men’s Physique (HomeTeamNS). He came in second in the Men’s Denim Model (Open).

He is jubilant that his hard work has paid off.  “In bodybuilding, we sacrifice many things such as time and family,” he said. “For this competition, I trained five to six days a week, in addition to training at the gym where I work as a personal trainer. Sometimes during the weekend I also train at the Fitness Workz gym at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir, as I live nearby.”

Danial was inspired by his bodybuilding role model, Ryan Terry, who only won his first Men’s Physique Olympia in his ninth Olympia appearance. “I really look up to him as he had been competing every year but did not get the title for ages. Yet, he never gave up. He really inspired me to keep going until I reached my goal.”

He added that he enjoys taking part in Fitness Ironman for the broad exposure it offers to the world of bodybuilding – a sport that has not only shaped his physique, but also his character over the years: “Through bodybuilding, I challenged myself to become the best version of me,” he shared.

BUILDING HIMSELF UP BEYOND LOOKS

Fitness Workz Trainer, Aidid Haidil, is no stranger to looking good in jeans.

Aidid, who placed third in Men’s Physique (Open – Tall) 171cm and above and second in Men’s Physique (HomeTeamNS), was also named champion in Men’s Denim Model (Open). “I’m proud of myself for winning the category, as modelling is also my profession,” he said.

Beyond honing his physical appearance, bodybuilding holds a deeper emotional significance for Mr Aidid, who survived a road accident in 2017 when a lorry collided with his motorcycle. He sustained severe injuries to his hands and body. “For me, bodybuilding is not just about looks,” he reflected. “It has made me stronger and more confident. I started bodybuilding in order to make a change – with 21 metal implants in my body, I wanted to show people that if I could do it, so could they.”

Aidid is following in his late grandfather’s footsteps. He affectionately calls him “my bodybuilding role model”. “He was the only person in my family who did bodybuilding, so I want to make him proud.”

Mr Aidid’s advice to those who have yet to take up the weights : “If you want to do it, just do it. You wouldn’t want to go into the future and regret that you never tried bodybuilding before. Be disciplined, consistent and believe in yourself throughout your bodybuilding journey.”

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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