The Singapore Sports Council for the Disabled (now the Singapore Disability Sports Council) was jointly founded by the then Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and eight organisations for the disabled on 26th February 1973. Known as the Singapore Sports Council for the Handicapped then, it was registered with the Commissioner of Charities on 24th May 1973.
At its first Annual General Meeting on 25th May 1973, Mr. Othman Omar – the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs at that time – was elected as the Council’s first President.
The first Committee of the newly set up Singapore Sports Council for the Handicapped wasted no time in promoting sports to the handicapped. A Special Committee was set up to organise the first Regional Sports Meet in conjunction with the Singapore Handicapped Month in September 1973. 36 paraplegics from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore participated in a total of 42 events including athletics, archery, swimming and table tennis.
The Regional Sports Meet opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the disabled in Singapore. It also served as a trial to select suitable athletes to represent Singapore in its first overseas championship meet – the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games. Although the Council had short-listed six athletes, only two – Robert Tan and Frankie Thanapal Sinniah – represented Singapore at the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1974 due to lack of funds. Frankie returned with a bronze medal for swimming, while Robert was placed fourth for javelin and weightlifting, and fifth for archery. In 1975, they again were again selected to represent Singapore in the first Far East and South Pacific (FESPIC) Games held in Japan. This time, Robert won the Gold and Bronze medals, while Frankie won two Gold medals and a Bronze medal.
In a short space of time, the Council had put Singapore on the map of disability sports. Our athletes competed in world and regional championships, and despite inadequate funds, and lack of training equipment and facilities, they did Singapore proud by winning medals in such world-class events.
In 1985, the Council was renamed the Singapore Sports Council for the Disabled (SSCD). Notwithstanding its role as the national agency for disability sports, SSCD had no assured funding. There was not even a proper office to carry out its work. Towards the end of 1994, the SSCD acquired its first office within the premises of the Handicaps Welfare Association in Whampoa Drive. In 1995, SSCD moved into its office premises and employed two full-time staff. For the first time in 22 years, there was some semblance of a national sports body and a real sense of identity.
The SDSC has come a long way since 1973. It is relentlessly pushing the frontiers of disability sports in Singapore today. In a ceremony held on 29th May 2003, the SSCD officially changed its name to the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC).