Clubs for All!

Ceylon Sports Hall, one of the associations

Balestier Plain was a vast open space in the early 1900s.The playing fields bounded by Balestier Road from Tessensohn Road to Moulmein Road were known as Balestier Plain. It was associated to eight sports clubs in its vicinity – the Ceylon Sports Club (CSC), the Ceylon Tamils’ Association (CTA), the Singapore Indian Association (IA), the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the Singapore Chinese Recreation Club (SCRC), the Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA), the Singapore Malay Football Clubs (MFC) and Kamala Club (KC), or collectively known as the Balestier Plain Clubs. Thus, Balestier Plain had then transformed into an area representing the three major races of sports in Singapore.

When the Japanese invaded Singapore during World War II, the British stored drums of petrol in the club buildings and bombed these places in defence. After Singapore's defeat, the Japanese built their military barracks on the site and the field of Balestier Plain was later used to grow vegetable garden full of food-producing plants to cope with the scarcity of food. What was left of the field was badly damaged and could no longer be used for sport activities.

Balestier Plain did not stay this way for long. It was given back to the citizens in the year 1947 after the liberation of Singapore and work of levelling the plain was completed on August the following year. Once that was completed, government surveyors were deployed to fix up a formation level to ensure that the whole field was one level plain before final touches from the respective clubs made to their own plots of land.

At present, Balestier Plain stands as one of the leading recreational zones in Singapore, and continues to produce some of Singapore's top athletes. 


In the past, there were few avenues of entertainment. It was a time when fun-filled family sports carnivals were held and children would be free after school to pursue different sports during any academic years depending on the games season. Furthermore, it was not uncommon then, to find many youth excelling in different sports. Therefore, to encourage sports, clubs only had to pay a nominal fee, only $1 annually a year for clubs here, according to a newspaper article written in 1948.

These clubs held many sporting games such as darts, billiards, soccer, hockey, netball, tennis, soccer, and badminton amongst others. The intense training that is provided by these clubs have garnered results and have won awards on the international levels as shown in many international competitions including the SEA Games, Asian games, Mini-World Cup Cricket and even the Melbourne Olympics.

Sometimes, these clubs also came together and organised friendly matches between themselves. For example, the Ceylon Sports Club invited the Singapore Chinese Recreation Club to join them at hockey practice matches three times a week before the war.

Clubs left in Balestier Plain

The Ceylon Sports Club (formerly known as the Lanka Union) was founded in 1920, but up to 1922, the club had yet to find its own piece of land. The members of the club saw the need for their own land and in the late 1922, they sought the help of the Assistant Controller of Labour, which allowed them to lease out a piece of land for them at Balestier Road. What was once a small shed in the 1920s, the Ceylon Sports Club today boasts modern facilities in various sporting fields that together train more that 500 girls and boys of all races from the age of 6 to 18 yrs old in soccer, men’s and ladies’ cricket, men’s and ladies’ hockey, and netball from 25 different schools.

The Singapore Khalsa's Association was originally founded in 1932, but was forced out of their place due to the government's decision to requisition the land in the 1960s. Having left with no land, the Association found a new location which was along Balestier road. Now, the Singapore Khalsa's Association has grown to become a 5-storey complex that houses a club house, an air-conditioned marriage hall cum reception centre, a bar and a restaurant, a gymnasium and jackpot room. The Singapore Khalsa's Association has become a popular venue to hold functions, but it still does not lose out in the area of sports as it does hold several sports events every year, from soccer to netball.

The Singapore Chinese Recreation Club (formerly known as the Straits Chinese Recreation Club) is one of Singapore's oldest clubs. Although founded in 1885, it moved to its present location only in 1963 after the government wanted to convert its formal location into a park. When the club was first founded, cricket was regularly played while hockey and football were played occasionally. Through the course of the club's history, it has groomed a number of outstanding cricket and hockey players. However, besides sports, this club usually organized various community and fundraising activities like the first annual Chinese New Year Sports on Hong Lim Green in 1896. Unfortunately, the SCRC came to a period of decline, leaving today's club unsystematic and haphazard.

First founded in Short Street in 1923, the Indian Association never did own a permanent clubhouse. This turning point came in 1950. The Indian Association finally managed to find its footing located at Balestier Plain through constant fundraising. However, in the 1960s, the Indian Association came to a decline in popularity instead with the contributing factor being the separation of Singapore and Malaysia. The Indian Association could no longer liaise with the Malayan community for competitions and support, and because of this limitation of the association, many found it an unattractive place to be in. Despite this major hurdle, the Indian Association found their way out through advertising its strength in the field of sports. To date, it has even expended to a variety of organisations like the Singapore Indian Development Association.

Titbit Corner...

Balestier Plain used to be a sugar-cane plantation in the 19th century, owned by Joseph Balestier who arrived in Singapore in 1834. However, he eventually sold this 1000-acre plantation at this site when his industry had failed and his wife had died.