THE 3rd Borneo Games unfolds today with the lawn bowls competition at the Lawn Bowls Centre of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
Lawn bowls national coach, Hj Abd Ghafar POKLDSS Hj Mohd Taha, knows that a good showing by his charges will kick off the Sultanate's successful campaign in the tournament.
Hj Abd Ghafar is hoping to motivate the other eight national teams with victories in their four matches against Sarawak and he wants his squad to set an example for the Brunei contingent of 151 athletes.
Hosts Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan and Melaka will be contesting the event and they will be competing in eight categories namely men's single, men's pair, men's triple, men's fours, women's single, women's pair, women's triple and women's fours.
Dk Nurul Nabilah Pg Salleh Chuchu takes on a competitor from Sarawak in the women's singles at Arena A's Court 3 while Hj Norhadi Hj Mohammad will also see action against Sarawak in the men's singles at Arena B's Court 1.
The Sultanate will also play against Sarawak in the women's fours at Arena A's Rink 4 and the men's fours at Arena A's Rink 5. Eight other games will be held today and they will all be played at 7:30pm.
"I think that winning the first game will help Brunei, and I want it to at least raise their (the other athletes') confidence," said Hj Abd Ghafar during the team's training yesterday.
"We won one gold, one silver and three bronze medals in the 2007 Borneo Games in Sarawak and the aim this year is to better that. The teams are a little nervous, especially since this is the first competition for a few of them. But when they play as a team, they are confident," said the 59-year-old.
The squad is comprised of nine men and seven women.
Five of the players were from the 2007 squad, though this year the athletes who have remained with the team are all competing in different categories and the men's triple team which was victorious two years ago has been disbanded.
A mix of youth and experience, the most seasoned player is Mohd Israt Amiruddin Hj Abd Gani who will be expected to carry the men's fours team.
Hj Abd Ghafar said he has high hopes on Hj Norhadi Hj Mohammad and Dk Nurul Nabilah Pg Salleh Chuchu to win gold.
Hj Norhadi is not a regular national player but has been playing the sport since the 1990's and is a very experienced player, according to Hj Abd Ghafar.
The daughter of one of the most accomplished national players, 2005 Southeast Asia (SEA) Games gold medalist Pg Md Salleh Chuchu Pg Hj Tuah, Dk Nurul Nabilah is following her father's footsteps and won silver in the women's fours at the Asia Pacific Bowling Championships in August this year.
Though the coach was confident that the team could deliver, he said they will have to get past Sarawak first.
"We have all been preparing very well but you have to bear in mind that I think Sarawak are the toughest team to beat," said Hj Abd Ghafar.
"It was the same thing in the last edition of the Games in Sarawak where they were the best team. I am not sure about Sabah this year. The only thing I know is that it is the team they will be sending to Melaka for SUKMA," he added.
Hj Abd Ghafar was initially supposed to compete but he wants to pull out since the team has enough players.
"I am still in doubt. I do not think I am putting myself in the team," said Hj Abd Ghafar, who has been playing lawn bowls since 1989. As a coach I don't like to play when my team is playing, I like to keep an eye on them," he explained.
The other men's single match will see Sabah face Labuan at Arena B's Rink 6.
The first match of the Games pits Sabah against Labuan in the women's fours at Arena A's Rink 1. The same two teams face each other in the men's fours at Arena A's Rink 2.
The women's pair competition will also see Labuan take on Melaka at Arena B's Rink 2 and Sabah facing Sarawak at Arena B's Rink 3.
The teams will go up against each other in the men's pair competition as well; Labuan-Melaka at Arena B's Rink 4 and Sabah-Sarawak at Arena B's Rink 5.
Except for athletics which will start on Tuesday, all the other sports - badminton, cue sports, gasing, hockey, lawn bowls, pencak silat, sepak takraw and tennis - will begin tomorrow.
Courtesy from Brunei Times