Singapore Badminton Association

Established in 1929, the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) is the official body for local matters pertaining to badminton, with the vision to make Singapore a “top badminton nation”.1 During the prewar and immediate postwar periods, the SBA was instrumental in bringing about the rise of local badminton legends such as Wong Peng Soon and Ong Poh Lim, who were part of the team that won the Malaya Thomas Cup in 1949.Today, the SBA continues to organise tournaments and takes charge of the recruiting and training of badminton talents.3

Early years
Badminton was introduced to Malaya and Singapore by the British and the Amateur Sporting Association in the 1920s.4 Initially, it was played among the British upper class residing in Singapore and Malaya. By the mid-1930s, however, the popularity of the game had spread to the local population, which included English-educated elites, civil servants, white-collar workers and students from Chinese schools.5

Local enthusiasts formed clubs, such as the Mayflower Badminton Party, Marigold Badminton Party, Useful Badminton Party and Diehard Badminton Party.6 Badminton was popular because of its relatively simple and convenient gameplay: it required only a few players, and any flat ground could be turned into a badminton court.7

Amid the increasing popularity of badminton, the SBA was established in 1929 with Tan Boo Teck as its first president.8 It aimed to promote the sport and organise competitions. Badminton clubs could affiliate themselves with the association and join its annual open championships, which were based on players’ qualifications and skills.9 Winners were selected to represent Singapore in the prestigious Malayan Badminton Championships.10

Singapore’s badminton scene took a turn after the Japanese Occupation (1942–45). It lost some of its best players during the war, and interest in the sport diminished, because of the lack of facilities and rising maintenance cost for an amateur badminton club. Despite the difficulties, the SBA was still able to produce key players, the most notable of whom were Ong Poh Lim and Wong Peng Soon.11 They were part of the first Malaya Thomas Cup team in 1949, as well as the subsequent ones in the 1950s.12 Ismail Marjan was another key player who was part of the 1952 Thomas Cup team. Individually, these players also won other international championships in the 1950s, including the All England singles and All England doubles.13

Leadership and activities
Since the SBA’s establishment in 1929, its committee members and patrons have typically been prominent members of the community, civil servants and business leaders who are passionate about the game.14 These included Song Ong SiangAw Boon Haw and Tan Chin Tuan, who helped promote badminton to the masses.15 Notable past presidents included Lim Chuan Geok, captain-manager of the victorious 1949 Thomas Cup team, who oversaw the building of the Singapore Badminton Hall;16 Lee Kin Tat, who reached the semi-finals of the All-England championship in 1964 and won numerous singles championships in Europe from 1963 to 1967;17 former president of Singapore Wee Kim Wee, who played badminton in his youth and won the 1937 Singapore Junior championship singles;18 former president of Singapore Ong Teng Cheong;19 and former Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say.20

In 2000, the SBA announced its goal for Singapore to win the Thomas Cup by 2012. This was in response to a challenge set by former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1999.21 The plan included strengthening the talent pipeline by improving local school training and recruitment programmes, and opening all SBA matches to foreign players.22 The association began importing foreign players and coaches such as Ronald Susilo, Taufik Hidayat and the latter’s coach, Mulyo Handoyo.23

This strategy has since been replaced by one that focuses more on developing and grooming local talents. The last time Singapore granted citizenship to foreign-born shuttlers was in 2014. Although the SBA considered it more challenging to nurture local players, it is deemed a more sustainable solution for the long term as the government focuses on youth development.24

Matches organised by the SBA during the pre- and postwar periods were held mainly at the Clerical Union Hall, with its single court, low ceiling and inadequate lighting, until the Singapore Badminton Hall was built in 1952.25 By the 1980s, however, the Badminton Hall premises proved to be insufficient, and plans were made to build an adjoining club house with badminton courts, a gymnasium and other amenities, as well as space that could be rented out to help the SBA generate income to support its training activities.26 

With help from a fundraising committee, the building fund eventually reached S$6 million. Significant donations included S$1 million from Tan Chin Tuan, then patron of the SBA, S$2 million from Ho Whye Chung and S$1 million from the Shaw Foundation.27 On 7 May 1986, the S$5.5 million SBA Club House was officially opened by former President Wee.28

In January 2008, with the expiry of its lease at Guillemard Road, the SBA was relocated to the Singapore Sports School.29 Today, the association is located at the Singapore Sports Hub.30

Developing talent
In November 2018, to address challenges such as the development of local badminton players, the SBA introduced a new national ranking system in seven age categories for singles and double events, an athletes' commission, a parents’ support group and the revival of the national championships.31

The SBA partnered ActiveSG to launch the SBA Badminton Academy in June 2017 to develop young badminton players aged 6 to 12. The academy aims to nurture potential future talents for its national intermediate squad and national team.32

The SBA and Eagle brand medicated oil manufacturer, Borden Eagle Group, jointly launched the EagleCares Badminton Programme in February 2021. Under this monthly community programme, underprivileged children receive mentorship from national badminton players, such as Loh Kean Yew, as well as badminton gear and equipment. Borden Eagle also donated S$200,000 to this initiative and to help fund SBA's developmental programmes.33

In 2022, the SBA launched the SBA Patrons Club with 20 founding members, to ensure sufficient funds to support plans to promote the sport. The plans include setting up a badminton promotion centre at Guillemard hall to encourage young people to pick up the sport, introducing a bursary to support the education of talented players, and setting up a badminton coaching academy, a badminton league and regional training centres to make the sport more accessible.34

In 2023, the SBA launched a new post-career gratuity programme that offers retired national athletes financial security, with payouts ranging from S$16,000 to S$100,000, depending on the player's highest world ranking and length of time they had represented the nation. A six-tiered podium programme helps national athletes to defray expenses incurred when they take part in overseas competitions.35

Bonny Tan and Sharon Teng

1. “About the Singapore Badminton Association,” Singapore Badminton Association, accessed 10 May 2023,
2. Tan H. D., “A Look Back,” in Singapore Badminton Association Club House, The Official Opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association Club, 1986), 27. (From PublicationSG)
3. Singapore Badminton Association, “About.”   
4. Tan Chong Tee, Upholding the Legacy: Singapore Badminton (Singapore: Asiapac, 2002), 7 (Call no. RSING 796.345095957 TAN); “The A.S.A.,” Straits Times, 3 January 1932, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 7.
6. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 12; S. R. Nathan and Timothy Auger, An Unexpected Journey: Path to the Presidency (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2011), 36–37. (Call no. RSING 959.5705092 NAT)
7. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 7.
8. “Mr Tan Boo Teck: President of Local Association,” Straits Times, 1 April 1934, 18; “Tan Boo Teck,” Straits Times, 3 December 1933, 14; “Untitled,” Malayan Saturday Post, 10 September 1932, 13 (From NewspaperSG); Singapore Badminton Association, “About.”     
9. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 15.
10. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 17.
11. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 57–58.
12. Tan, “A Look Back,” 27.
13. Tan, “A Look Back,” 27.
14. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 15.
15. “Untitled”; Singapore Badminton Association Club House, The Official Opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association Club, 1986), 11. (From PublicationSG)
16. “32 Years of Loyal Service,” Singapore Free Press, 30 May 1952, 3; “See for Yourself, Invites Mr Lim,” Straits Times, 7 May 1952, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
17. Tan, Upholding the Legacy, 73; “Kin Tat Crushes Kops,” Straits Times, 4 April 1964, 19; Ho Ai Li, "Glory Days of Local Shuttlers," Straits Times, 16 August 2015, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
18. J. Rajendran, “Badminton Champ in His Youth,” Straits Times, 28 August 1985, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Ong Teng Cheong, “Address by Ong Teng Cheong,” in Singapore Badminton Association Club House, The Official Opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Singapore: Singapore Badminton Association Club, 1986), 3. (From PublicationSG)
20. Tay Cheng Khoon, "Susilo's Medal Dream Dashed," Straits Times, 19 August 2004, 1 (From NewspaperSG); Lee Hsien Loong to Lim Swee Say, 27 April 2018, accessed, 11 May 2023,
21. Chan Tse Chueen, “Shuttlers Aim for Thomas Cup 2012,” Straits Times, 19 January 2000, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
22. Gerard Wong, “Local Tourney To Go Regional,” Straits Times, 1 December 2000, 3; Tay Cheng Khoon, “$19M Budget for Thomas Cup Quest,” Straits Times, 22 January 2000, 86 (From NewspaperSG); Chan, “Shuttlers Aim for Thomas Cup.”
23. Godfrey Robert, “SBA, Convince Taufik to 90 for Citizenship,” Straits Times, 22 January 2002, 2 (From NewspaperSG); Wong, “Local Tourney To Go Regional.” 
24. May Chen, "SBA Going Local to Attain Goals," Straits Times, 26 May 2016, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
25. Tan, “A Look Back,” 27.
26. Ong, “Address by Ong Teng Cheong,” 3.
27. Ong, “Address by Ong Teng Cheong,” 3.
28. Tay Cheng Khoon, “President Drops a Shuttle Hint,” Straits Times, 8 May 1986,  (From NewspaperSG)
29. Jeanette Wang, “SBA To Get New Home at Sports School,” Straits Times, 25 September 2007, 36. (From NewspaperSG)
30. “About OCBC Arena,” Singapore Sports Hub, accessed 11 May 2023,  
31. Lim Say Heng, “Singapore Badminton Association Introduces Athletes’ Commission, Parents’ Support Group, National Rankings,” Straits Times, 3 November 2018. (From Factiva via NLB's eResources website)
32. May Chen, “SBA Joins ActiveSG To Launch Academy in June,” Straits Times, 18 April 2017, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
33. David Lee, “Borden Eagle, SBA’s $200K Bid to Lift Those in Kids’ Homes,” Straits Times, 10 February 2021. (From Factiva via NLB's eResources website)
34. David Lee, “Singapore Badminton Association Aims to Keep Producing Smash Hits,” Straits Times, 20 November 2022; David Lee, “SBA Eyes More Success,” Straits Times, 26 June 2022; David Lee, “Regional Hubs for Badminton,” Straits Times, 4 October 2020. (From Factiva via NLB's eResources website)
35. Ervin Ang, "Badminton Gets $1.1M Boost from Sponsors," Straits Times, 3 May 2023. (From Factiva via NLB's eResources website)

The information in this article is valid as of May 2023 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Singapore Badminton Association
Sports and games
Badminton (Game)--Singapore