Home Blog

Tom Wood – Calling the Shots

After spending nearly two years calling races at the Singapore Turf Club, New Zealander Tom Wood is now a Race Caller at The Hong Kong Jockey Club. The 28-year-old is one of the world’s youngest and most sought after callers. He shares his lifelong involvement with the racing industry and tips for next month’s Melbourne Cup.

Your family is heavily involved in racing?
I had racing in my blood right from the get go! My father was first a jumps jockey and then he and my mother trained thoroughbreds in Cambridge, New Zealand for a number of years. All my jobs as a teenager were in racing, I even ran my own photography business for a while selling racing photographs, then I worked as a broadcast cadet for the New Zealand Racing Board, which operates the broadcast arm of the TAB: Trackside Television.

How did you get into calling?
I moved into commentating trials in the Canterbury region and was mentored by Reon Murtha, a well-known name, not only in race broadcasting but also other sporting events like the Commonwealth Games.

What attributes do you need to be a race caller?
Well the obvious is good eyesight and a decent voice. You also have to be quick thinking and have a good memory.

How did you get the confidence to race call at a young age?
It’s one of those things where you have to make it work, because if you don’t you look or sound stupid. Outside of my job, I’m actually quite a shy and quiet person. Race calling can be quite a lonely occupation in some respects, because once the race starts, its all on you, and there is nobody who can help you out.

How do you prepare for calling races?
It’s a case of studying the form and trying to work out what’s going to happen. Who is riding which horse? What barrier have they drawn? What weight are they carrying? Who might be the leaders of the race? I do all that preparation in the hope it takes the element of surprise out of the race. Things will still surprise you of course, but if you can read a race, it helps a lot. I also try to stencil the names and colours of the horses and jockeys into my brain as much as I can before the gates open.

Tom’s Cup Tips:

Favourite all time horse?
Winx. There are not many better than her.

Who is your pick for the Melbourne Cup?
It’s too early to tell at this stage, but probably a horse that comes from the northern hemisphere. They have a very good record in the race and are tough to beat.

Have you ever won big on the Melbourne Cup?
Never! It’s such a hard race to have a bet on, 24 horses, two miles, so many unknowns. It’s a real headache.

Join us at the Melbourne Cup Race Day on Tuesday 6 November at The Singapore Turf Club anza.org.sg/events

Kid’s Sports in Singapore

 

Vivian Eng plays rugby for the Singapore women’s team, is a former national soccer player, and a qualified preschool teacher. Eng teamed her twin passions by setting up VivoKids Singapore, a movement and multi-sport programme catering to kids aged 20 months to six years. Alongside introducing children to six different sports, they run holiday camps and sports-themed birthday parties for kids up to 12 years of age.

Why did you set up VivoKids?
Having coached for 10 years at various sport academies, and working in a preschool for a year, I felt that there was a lack of understanding of kids’ abilities and potential. I simply love kids, and I believe that sports are a great medium to reach out and bond with them. VivoKids was set up to offer the benefits of multi-sports to children of all abilities. Using age-appropriate equipment with fun, progressive games and drills, we hope kids will embrace an active and healthy lifestyle.

You’re so fit yourself! What’s your own sports background?
As a national athlete, I’ve played various sports in my younger years, specialising only in my late teens. My multi-sport exposure and background helped my development as a person and an athlete; and gave me the edge when I decided to pursue a new sport (rugby) in my late twenties.  As a female athlete, who plays typical “boy sports” – soccer and rugby – I wanted to encourage more girls to be active and to engage in lifelong sports too. Sports is unisex and all girls should be given the same opportunities and visibility when it comes to sports!

What age is best to start introducing sports to your child?
When the child is still at infant/toddlers’ age you can expose them to a variety of movements, outdoor play – anything that involves both fine and gross motor skills is great. Once they hit 2.5 years and beyond, you can introduce them to sports, keeping in mind that it should be a wide variety, and that sessions should be age appropriate and fun.

What are the benefits of multi-sports training for kids?
Research has shown that the multi-sports approach helps build a solid physical development foundation as children get a chance to learn a wide variety of movement skills, which can be transferred to many sports. Exposing them to a wide range of movement also reduces the risk of over-use injuries and burnout. Sport helps kids develop active lifestyle habits and all-round physical conditioning such as flexibility, core stability, strength, stamina, power and speed. Apart from reaping the physical benefits, they sharpen up problem solving, communication, team work and working independently.

Why is sport great for kid’s socialisation?
Playing interactive group games develops social interaction and communication skills. Problem-solving or cognitive skills such as counting, identifying colours, or learning body parts, are stimulated during games. As they grow older, they get exposed to cooperation and friendly competition in sports, where they learn about winning and losing, teamwork, sportsmanship, integrity, resilience and perseverance.

What role can parents take in encouraging kids to participate in sports?
Children model their parents’ behaviour and tend to inherit their habits. To encourage long term sports participation, parents should lead by example, adopting a healthy and active lifestyle and participating in regular exercise or sports activities. As a family, choose to head out to cycle or hike together, explore the outdoors and nature.

To find out more head to vivokinetics.com

Kids Swim Tips

Sam Jackson, Managing Director of Marsden Swim School shares his tips for helping your child become a super swimmer in Singapore.

1 Learn to relax – a relaxed body is a buoyant body. Practice lots of back floats with your child, supporting them on your shoulder or gently supporting their neck. Let them feel how their breathing effects their buoyancy. The key is to relax all muscles… tense muscles are heavy!

2 Never hold your breath – Learning to exhale (blow bubbles) is about the most important skill one can learn. This can be encouraged from 4-6 months old. Practise long, slow exhalations, working towards coming out of the water for a short breath in.

3 Develop a balanced body, strong foundation – A balanced body in swimming is one that sits on top of the water. This is created through length and developing an effective kick. Practice lots of kicking on their backs, with straight legs. Ensure their neck is relaxed and encourage them to just look straight up!

4 Technique first – Teach a child to swim well and you are providing them a life skill. Emphasise strong technique across all strokes, distance should only be added if they can keep their technique sound.

5 Find a reputable swim school – Try find a school that teaches all the way through from babies to adults, from learn to swim to competitive squads, as kids will understand what is required at all stages of development. Also ensure they make it fun!

Marsden Swim School now offers lessons at the German European School which has an indoor Olympic sized temperature controlled pool. marsdenswimschool.com

Capturing Colour

Be inspired by the talented ANZA snappers who contributed to our magazine under the theme “colour”.

Brendan Paget
Green Lizard

“The Singapore Zoo is a place you always have on your list of locations to visit and this month we finally did! One of the most amazing colours that caught my eye, was the vivid green scales of this lizard. Looking closer, there are all the colours of the rainbow shown. Quite the colourful character!”

Catriona Morgan
Hoi An Lanterns

“Nothing screams “colour” to me more than the beautiful and vibrant lanterns that adorn the streets of Hoi An in Vietnam. One of the highlights of my visit was watching these well-designed and colourful lanterns being created by talented and skilled artisans all around town. Colourful indeed!”

Damian Kells
Flower

“This photo was taken in Emerald Hill – I liked the contrast between the bright colours of the flower and the plain texture of the wall behind. I used a Leica M6 and shot on Kodak Portra 400 film stock, which is one of my favourite films.”

Interested in photography? Whether you use a point and shoot, camera phone, or something more advanced, ANZA’s Click! Photography group would love you to join their photowalks and discussions. The only prerequisite is enthusiasm. Please contact Brendan at anzaclicksg@gmail.com for more info about Click and upcoming events.

Singapore Stories: Karien van Ditzhuijzen

ANZA member Karien van Ditzhuijzen recently published A Yellow House (monsoonbooks.co.uk) Set in Singapore, it tells the story of ten-year-old Maya, who helps ill-treated domestic workers. Karien also edited My Voice at Home (myvoiceathome.org), an anthology for local charity HOME, of stories written by domestic workers.

Where is your home country?
I was born an expat child, so even though I am technically from the Netherlands, I have lived outside the country for more than half my life. We have lived in Singapore for over six years, and for now this is home.

Have you always been a writer?
No, not at all, I actually have a degree in Chemistry and worked in the food industry for a decade developing ice cream recipes. I wrote my first book – a children’s book about my childhood in Borneo – when I was on maternity leave ten years ago. Since then I have written for magazines and blogs, as well as fiction. A Yellow House is my first full novel, and I only now really dare call myself ‘a writer’.

What made you interested to tell the stories of FDW in Singapore?
I grew up with domestic workers in the house myself and always felt a bit awkward about how they left their own children behind in their home countries to take care of us. When I moved to Singapore and hired my own domestic helper I wanted to learn more about what motivates them and what their lives are like. I joined local charity HOME and met so many inspiring women through my work with them that I wanted to write and share their stories. They are an important part of the Singapore story, yet a voice not heard often
in literature.

What writing support have you had in Singapore?
Through a friend I was introduced to the Singapore Writers’ Group and I met most of my writer friends there. I went to several sharing sessions and workshops organised by them. With writer friends we now critique each other directly. I’d also like to check out the ANZA Writers’ group!

What has been your journey to publication in Singapore?
Initially, I found an agent who helped me get my manuscript into shape, but then we parted ways, which was very frustrating at first. A friend introduced me to Monsoon Books Publisher, Philip Tatham. Monsoon is based in the UK, but with a focus on work set in South East Asia. Thankfully, they loved it and agreed to take it on. I also had some local publishers interested to take on the book. There are quite a few out here that are looking for new authors that have works set in Singapore, and the good news is you don’t need an agent to pitch to them.

Karien blogs about life in Singapore at bedu-mama.com

Hotspots – Funsiamo DIY Baking

DIY baking studio Funsiamo has taken Taiwan by storm, and promises to do the same in Singapore. The 1,200 square feet studio in Suntec features top-of-the-range baking appliances, as well as a patient fleet of baking assistants. But don’t expect to have your cake without working up a sweat first.

My daughter Sophie (8) and I team up and hit the ground running by choosing to make the ambitious Rainbow Cake, a five layer creation which requires whipping up a meringue, baking five separate layers of sponge, and decorating it with fluffy cream and a cake rainbow. There’s an iPad guide to keep us on track, a timer and all the ingredients are on hand. Once we find our feet, we’re soon baking up a storm! We’re both chuffed that our finished product looks quite a lot like the one in the brochure.

This is Funsiamo’s very first overseas outlet and it offers a library of recipes from Valrhona Banana Chocolate Cake, to macarons, fruit tarts, mousse cakes, Hokkaido cupcakes or adorable unicorn cakes. 15 recipes will roll out in phases within the first month with more in the pipeline. All ingredients, tools and baking gear are supplied by the studio, so just make a booking or walk in to try a baking session. The best bit? They do all the dishes!

Verdict: If you want to feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of MasterChef, then look no further. At Funsiamo, you leave with both a sweet sense of accomplishment, and a cake box for devouring later.

Funsiamo
Suntec City, North Wing, #02-458, 038983
funsiamo.com.sg

How Expats Can Save on Money Transfers to Australia

With globalisation blurring geographical boundaries, one of the destinations that’s gaining popularity with expats is Singapore. An economic powerhouse, the city-state draws professionals from all over the world. Reason? The Lion City offers a great work environment, a robust public transport system, is incredibly well-organised, offers better earning potential, and is home to a large expatriate community.

With expats constituting 60% of Singapore’s population, remittances are a significant part of international capital flows. Though most expats rely on banks and other money transfer service providers to send money back home, they unwittingly fall prey to high remittance charges, FX margins and hidden charges. These unforeseen expenses significantly reduce the amount transferred. And the worst part is that neither the sender nor the receiver is intimated about these charges.

According to a World Bank Report on Global Remittance Costs published in September 2018, the global average transaction costs stood at 6.94% in Q3 of 2018, with banks being the most expensive type of service providers at 10.51%, followed closely by money transfer operators at 7.80%.

However, a new crop of Fintech startups like InstaReM are disrupting these traditional methods of money transfers with more cost-effective ones. Singapore headquartered InstaReM started its operations from Australia in 2015, and the company today enables cost-effective money transfers to 55+ countries.

Unlike banks and other money transfer service providers, InstaReM offers mid-market rates sourced directly from Google and does not add any margins to it. The transfer process is completely transparent as no hidden charges are sneaked in. The receipt clearly displays the fee charged and the amount the beneficiary will receive. With its Zero-Margin FX rates, low fees, automated platform and strong relationship with banks, InstaReM offers transparent international money transfers at the fraction of the cost, compared to the traditional players. Even the World Bank has consistently ranked InstaReM the No. 1 cost-efficient money transfer service in several corridors around the world. InstaReM is also big on rewards; expats can save by earning loyalty points every time they sign up, transfer or refer.

Sign Up Now!

Use Code*: SGFLY10 to get a First-Transfer Bonus of SGD $10

Check SGD-AUD rates right away.

*Valid until December 31, 2018

ANZA Soccer Fires Up!

Why join ANZA Soccer in Singapore?

And just like that the soccer season is well underway! “ANZA Soccer kicked off its 2018-2019 season welcoming 800 kids – past players and new recruits alike – to our Saturday league and Sunday competition teams,” says Anita Neville. “The season is lining up to be one of the best ever,” enthuses Neville. “So if you, or your kids, are sitting on the couch about what sport to play it’s never too late to sign up and join one of Singapore’s largest, and friendliest, soccer clubs.”

Here are just some of the exciting developments at ANZA Soccer…

More Matildas than ever before
ANZA Soccer has been investing in girls’ football over the past few years. “This year we are delighted to see so many girls joining the sport and our club,” says Neville. “For the first time we have a dedicated U14s Matildas team, along with a dedicated Matilda’s coach.”

ANZA hosts SEA Cup in 2019
“The SEA Cup is a prestigious regional soccer tournament for junior youth in South-East Asia,” says Neville. “Originally founded in 1988, the SEA Cup is contested between four youth soccer leagues in the region: ANZA Soccer (Singapore), Kuala Lumpur Youth Soccer (Malaysia), Bangkok Soccer League (Thailand) and a local guest team. The competition takes place over a weekend sometime between February and April. If you are interested in volunteering at the event, get in touch with the ANZA office.”

Looking for Little Lions
There is plenty of room for little kickers at ANZA Soccer. “The U4 boys and girls programme involves fun games and activities designed to develop children’s confidence, motor skills and love for soccer,” says Neville. “We focus on positive encouragement and inclusion. The programme involves 30 one hour sessions on Saturday mornings.”

Why Join ANZA Soccer in Singapore?

Saturday League Club
After a very closely fought 2017-2018 season expect another competitive Saturday League. “Players across the age divisions not only learn skills and fair play, they compete to take home the league trophy for their age group,” says Neville. “Towards the end of the season the ANZA Cup games kick off.” Saturday games are coached by volunteer parent coaches. Older age groups games are professionally refereed. “Players also receive 15 professional training sessions on Thursday evenings throughout the season,” says Neville. “The end of year finals are a family highlight.”

Sunday and Regional Competitions
“We have high hopes for the ANZA Soccer competition teams this year,” says Neville. “The teams represent ANZA Soccer in external leagues, playing every second Sunday. Through the year ANZA also sends representative teams to competitions across the region, for both boys and girls.” ANZA Soccer provides the perfect entry to the world’s most popular game. “We offer coaching programmes (for parent coaches, as well as players) and fun, fierce yet friendly competition. We aim to teach young players the skills of the game, and how to be a great team player based on the values of Fair Play.”

Free Trial for Little Lions
Looking for a Saturday sport for your little ones? We have free trial opportunities for kids aged 3-7 to join our fun, affordable league.

Contact info@anza.org.sg to learn more or head to anza.org.sg/sports/soccer/

Expat Mental Health

How often do you see patients with mental health challenges in your clinic?
If everyone could be in the shoes of a family doctor for a day, they would see how common mental health issues are. They can affect everyone from children to the elderly – I see at least two to three patients per day who are currently struggling with, or have had mental health issues in the past. Despite all the awareness efforts that have been focused on mental health in the past years, it is still very taboo. It shouldn’t be! Suffering from mental health issues is no more shameful or a sign of weakness than being diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure.

What are the most common mental health issues you see in expats?
In Singapore, the most common mental health issues are depression and anxiety. For expats, things like the stress of relocating to a new country, being away from family and friends, changing jobs or having to stop working to follow a spouse, and having to settle the kids in a new routine, can take a toll on mental health. I also see a lot of teenagers with anxiety or depression triggered by intense pressure to perform in international schools, best friends leaving the country, or bullying.

What support is available for someone suffering from depression?
Having an open chat with your family doctor can go a long way, and we can give you useful lifestyle advice and do basic blood work to rule out a physical cause and even prescribe medication if needed. Singapore has amazing psychologists and counsellors that can support you on your road to recovery as well. Psychiatrists can help navigate more complex and severe cases.

What is your advice to someone suffering from depression?
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of depression, you should talk to your family doctor. We are a great first step on the road to recovery. If making an appointment with your doctor feels like a huge task, reach out to a loved one and ask them to help you and bring you to the appointment. Depression can feel like it is untreatable and will never end, but there are many effective treatments, and by seeking help you are making the first step towards recovery, and eventually happiness and contentment.

Signs you might be experiencing depression
Everyone can experience days of feeling blue, due to homesickness or other life ups and downs. But depression is characterised by symptoms that are present for at least two weeks and can include:

– Depressed mood most of the day, every day (feeling sad or empty, being tearful)
– Loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy
– Changes in appetite and sleep pattern (either insomnia or sleeping more than usual)
– Loss of energy or fatigue
– Feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty thinking or concentrating, and recurrent thoughts about death and suicide.

Dr Méli Noël is based at IMC Jelita imc-healthcare.com

Singapore’s Vanishing Trades

A bird in the hand
Our first stop is Mr Teng’s birdcage store – Cage Making 159 – in Ang Mio Kio. We gather around his small workspace, surrounded by richly decorated bamboo cages of all shapes, colours and designs. This self-taught cage maker uses heat to bend and shape the bamboo strands, adding silk sunshades made by his wife, and carving intricate designs into the wooden embellishments. Mr Teng’s passion began as a young boy and he’s spent his life perfecting his trade. Mr Teng hopes to keep his family business alive; his 12 year old grandson has shown some interest in the trade.
Mr Teng adores the birds – also acting as a bird sitter, birdsong judge and trainer. He feeds the pampered animals a mix of ginseng and cod liver oil, to strengthen their vocal cords for competition. He ensures the birds are surrounded by other feathered friends, saying; “if birds are lonely they will die of heartsickness.”
The adjacent Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club is Singapore’s largest public area to admire the sweet tones of competitive birdsong. There are over 400 poles in the peaceful green space – each bird sings from cages hanging from them. There are three categories on which the bird is judged: amplification, melody and pitch. The top performing birds cost a pretty penny – up to SGD$100,000.

A sticky business
A visit to Tay Guan Heng uncovers a centuries-old method of making giant joss sticks and other festive decorations. Albert Tay shows us around the small manufacturing factory in Ang Mio Kio Industrial Park, demonstrating moulding techniques, and letting us handle the clay. “We’re one of the only joss stick makers in Singapore, still producing our sticks by hand,” says Tay. “We have been here for 100 years.” The joss sticks are burnt to give thanks to the Gods and protect families, and are often decorated with neon spray paint, fierce dragons and Chinese characters. The clay is made from a wild cinnamon tree wood powder. Once shaped, the sticks dry in the sun for up to four days.
The giant joss sticks take around 12-14 hours to burn, and are popular around the Seventh Month Festival in Singapore, as well as other religious periods. One of eight children, Tay grew up around the business, learning the tricks of the trade, but times are changing. “This is a dying trade,” he laments. “Joss sticks used to be made 14-16 feet tall, and were in high demand. That’s not the case any more.”

If the shoe fits
Our final stop is in the Chinatown area, at Lee Hoi Wah Shoes. Mr Lee runs a small bespoke shoe store from an HDB (Block 9, Jalan Kukoh #03-73) He measures his customer’s feet precisely, hand cuts the leather, then stitches and crafts the shoes in exacting detail. He’s even made shoes for Singapore’s founding PM, Lee Kuan Yew. “This shop has been here since 1951,” says Mr Lee. “My father was also a shoemaker. Each pair of shoes takes three to-six months to create and costs a minimum of SGD$500. “This trade is no more,” says Mr Lee. “The new generation isn’t interested. It’s happening here, and in Europe, too.” Still, when we are in Mr Lee’s store, his customers continue to turn up, keen to obtain a one-of-a-kind pair of shoes from a master shoemaker.

As our tour comes to a close, I notice a trio of giant joss sticks smouldering in the HDB void deck. I take a moment to quietly appreciate their beautiful, handcrafted design, and hope Singapore’s ancient trades endure as long as possible.

ANZA Tours runs regular excursions to all corners of Singapore, uncovering its hidden treasures. Book here: anza.org.sg/tours

A League of Their Own

Expat life can be lonely, even if you have your family with you for support. Imagine arriving alone, having left your children and family behind to move in with strangers. That’s the reality for most domestic helpers in Singapore. Recognising that sports and teamwork can help build a community and provide a much-needed support network, Filipina expat Dinx Carin and some of her friends founded a volleyball league for Filipinas in Singapore. “We had a vision to unite foreign workers, especially domestic helpers, in staying active, gaining new friends, relieving stress and promoting health, happiness and positivity by playing volleyball.”

Fulfilling and fun

The league, called SportsatSG, holds matches every Sunday, usually at Kallang’s OCBC arena. Since beginning in 2015 with a handful of teams, it now has between 24 and 42 teams each season, in three divisions. Of the more than 400 players, 80% are domestic helpers.

When the league first started, Carin had no idea how popular it would become. “At the beginning, it was just a project for passion, to make a difference. Foreign workers, especially maids, get lonely, get stressed, and need some friends. It helps them to be active, it really refreshes body, mind and soul. Some of our players even have their employers come to watch and support their game. It is so fulfilling.”

Carin and the organising committee make sure the league is a fun place for the ladies to spend their only day off. “We take lots of pictures, with videos and selfies posted on our social media. They show it to their families back home, updating them on what kind of activities they are involved in here in Singapore during their off day.”

To get involved, prospective players can send a message via the SportsatSG Facebook page. Individuals are matched with a team looking for players. For those who want to register a new team, the cost is around $400.

Like any community-run sports league, funding is a constant challenge. Although the registration fees contribute to the arena booking fees, it can be difficult to book the venue. “We’d like to block-book the OCBC arena to make sure we can play there every week but it’s expensive. So we do ad-hoc bookings and have to compete for slots with many other people who want to use the stadium. We’ve tried other venues but they are mainly outdoors and it’s too hot.”

The organisers are trying to get more sponsors involved to supply prizes and sponsor the end-of-season medal ceremony. Some past sponsors have also supplied products as giveaways for the players. “Because it’s an all-girl league, we had a company supply feminine hygiene products for the teams. Those items
can be expensive so the girls were really pleased.”

Smashing stereotypes

Filipino Jen Macapagal has the goal of making sports in Singapore more inclusive and accessible to helpers through her movement Race2Share. Currently, R2S works very closely with foreign domestic workers – with the aim to empower them through sports.
What results have you seen both in and out of the boat?
The ladies have been heavily involved in dragon boating since April last year, and I have seen their interests translate into habits, and habits into passion. Their involvement has improved their fitness and confidence levels. Despite having only Sunday as their day off, most of them use their time to train. Even on holidays, they are keen to participate in workout sessions. They also participate in marathon races (5km, 10km, 15km, 21km and 42km), and obstacle course racing like OCR and Spartan.
Does it also encourage social ties?
Yes, most of the sisters who train with us say it helps ease their homesickness and anxiety from being away from their families back home. It also provides a safe space to spend time with friends. We also organise non-training events such as barbecue gatherings.
What’s next?
The Standard Chartered Marathon race in December to raise funds for a local school in the Philippines.
How can people support Race2Share?
By volunteering their time to train our members or financially support/sponsor our members to be able to partake in various local races.
race2share.org