In the good old days, people used to head out of their homes to have fun with their friends during free time. They’d play all sorts of games, from chapteh and soccer to even games like sepak takraw, usually down at the void deck.
Fast forward to today, and you’d likely find more people scrolling through their phones than playing in the outdoors in this digital age. But it’s not just social media and mobile devices to blame.
You see, void decks used to be everyone’s hangout spot, but they have some rules now.
The town council has put several signs across void decks, indicating that playing soccer at void decks isn’t allowed.
However, some people continue to play soccer at the void deck despite the warning signs, attempting to maintain enjoyment in these communal areas.
Void Deck Cordoned Off
Recently, the void deck of a public housing block in Woodlands has been cordoned off to prevent young footballers from playing a game at the void deck.
The decision by Sembawang Town Council to partially cordon off the void deck aims to curb ball-playing and address residents’ noise complaints.
On 3 November 2023, the town council formally announced the “barricading” of the void deck area at Block 638 Woodlands Ring Road.
The notice explained that the town council had taken action in response to complaints about “noise disturbances” caused by schoolchildren “playing ball and shouting”.
The issue gained broader attention on 23 November when an unnamed resident of Block 638 Woodlands Ring Road reached out to The Monitor, a blog covering sports, entertainment, and lifestyle, expressing dissatisfaction with the town council’s action.
The resident found it “absurd” that the town council had decided to block off a significant portion of the void deck because of children playing football there, as reported by The Monitor.
The resident also shared the notice issued by the town council to justify the closure.
The notice mentioned that despite previous efforts, including installing “No Ball Game” signs and advice from town council officers and Zone 8 grassroots leaders, students continued to engage in these activities at the void deck, prompting the council’s decision.
As a result, the town council chose to temporarily cordon off a section of Block 638’s void deck to address non-compliance with regulations.
According to TODAY, an inspection on Thursday (30 November 2023) revealed that the orange safety net remained in place at the void deck.
The council’s decision to partially barricade the area under Block 638 Woodlands Ring Road aimed to mitigate noise generated by schoolchildren playing there.
As reported by The Monitor, the concerned resident highlighted the proximity of Spectra Secondary School, located just across from the affected block, as a significant factor.
They emphasised that it was primarily boys from the nearby school who engaged in football games at the void deck.
Sembawang Town Council’s Response
The town council’s rationale for partially barricading the void deck area under this particular block was to “temporarily deter non-compliance”.
Furthermore, upon prior reservation, the notice clarified that the void deck remained available for bookings, such as weddings, funerals, and other functions.
The barricades are designated to be removed once the situation improves, ensuring residents can continue to enjoy these communal spaces for various purposes.
Additionally, residents were encouraged to report any observed irregularities to the town council.
According to Mothership, Sembawang Town Council clarified that installing the barricades in the void deck had been made in consultation with the Resident Network Group, with residents duly informed of its temporary nature.
The town council added that should an official booking be made for social events at the void deck, they would promptly remove the barricade, demonstrating their commitment to accommodating residents’ needs and events in the community space.
Mixed Reactions from Netizens
The matter has drawn the interest of Reddit’s online community, where users expressed various opinions on the subject.
One of the top comments on the thread reads: “In my opinion, neither parties are at fault. Residents may not want kids playing football in void deck for legitimate reasons – some of them may work night shift and have to sleep in the day.
“Wouldn’t be great if you live on the second level and hear them when you’re trying to sleep. For the kids, they play in void deck likely because that’s the only option for them. You can’t expect them to fork out the money to book private cages, and publics ones are far and few between. Open fields are almost non existent. This is just the way it is here. Recreation and leisure are secondary,” the user said.
Many people could relate to the challenges faced by kids in Singapore, dealing with all the rules and regulations on what they can and can’t do.
One user commented: “It sucks to be kids in Singapore. Playing balls and running around inside your own home, nuisance. Do it at void deck, nuisance. Do it at the park, nuisance.
“Must long long register and queue for activeSG just to enjoy what other kids in other countries have without hassle.”
Not the First Time Void Decks Were “Sealed Off”
This isn’t the first rodeo for town councils trying to keep folks from using the void deck in certain ways.
Back in 2016, they put up metal barricades at the void deck of Block 143 Mei Ling Street, courtesy of Tanjong Pagar Town Council, all to stop the football games.
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