When I was in Singapore in August 2008, I saw trailers on television for a movie called Kallang Roar, which was to be about a cup run made by the Singapore National Football team back in the 70s. None of my cousins seemed that interested in it, and I never managed to watch the movie.
Now I’m back in Singapore, and I decided to see if I could find the movie. It seems that it didn’t really make a big splash over here, and I had no chance of finding it at the DVD stores that probably don’t even stock anything from last year, let alone 5 years ago. My cousins didn’t really know much about the film, but suggested I try downloading it.
It turns out that the entire film is on YouTube (http://youtu.be/UxP3hsUCunI). I watched it yesterday and thought it was brilliant. Of course the actually footballing scenes weren’t the greatest, but considering the budget and the fact that the actors can’t be expected to exhibit realistic professional-level football ability, that didn’t bother me. I felt the film really captured the culture and the emotions of the times and the situations quite well. I found the characterization of Uncle Choo to be inspirational and motivational. As a football romantic, some scenes even made my eyes water.
One of my favourite scenes was early on when they showed the empty stadium but had the radio announcer commentating on a match. I also loved the talk about food, which is an iconic aspect of Singaporean culture. And I liked the individual conflicts that each of the main characters faced (waiting ten years for a phone call, being threatened by match fixers, being asked by a sick father to get a job). It’s also great that the finished off with a tip of the hat to the greatest player in Singapore’s history, who was yet to make his mark at the time.
Definitely glad I finally saw the film, and recommend it to anyone who loves sports movies.
The 22 hour journey was productive: got to read the backpages while changing planes at Heathrow, West Ham won 3-0 while I was up in the air (flying so high), in the final 2 hours before landing I finally busted out my writing stuff and finally managed to scribble down the beginnings of a plot for the new novel.
Friday night I leave for a 40 day trip to visit family in Singapore and London.
Of course I plan to get some writing done during the trip. This will be more difficult in Singapore as I have many more people to see there, and in fewer days. In London I should have much more time. There’s an idea for a new novel I’ve been shaping for a while. Perhaps I’ll use Singapore to round out the concept so I can start the first draft when I get to London.
Of course I also plan to take in some footy during the trip. I have friends I can kickabout with in both places. I’ve also already got tickets to West Ham vs Arsenal on Boxing Day. I want to get tickets to Fulham away on New Year’s Day as well, but they might sell out too quickly. I might or might not get out to Leyton Orient and some non-League stuff as well.
Tomorrow is the final day of our season. I don’t know if I’ll get a say in how it ends, but I’ve done all I can to give myself a chance at getting selected. I know from the increasing frequency at which the first team players remark at my progress that I’ve given a really strong showing in the last few weeks of training, but, if I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure that I’d pick me if I were the manager. When it comes to a match with such high stakes, I can’t say that a few weeks of training should outweigh what the manager has seen in his first choice players over the last two seasons. I believe I’m good enough to do it, but if I don’t get selected I won’t be upset with myself for not doing more, nor with the manager for overlooking me. I do hope that I’ve at least given him a selection headache.
If both our first and second teams win our respective finals tomorrow, we’ll have achieved a historic double. In football—especially in a cup final—anything can happen, so I can’t say definitively that we’ll pull it off. The league tables peg both our teams as underdogs, but it doesn’t feel that way at all. Both of our teams are in flying form that must scare our opponents—the teams that finished at the top of the league’s two divisions—and we are all feeling really well prepared after the last two weeks of solid training. Whatever happens, I know we’ll have given everything to put ourselves in the best possible position to win. We will play our hearts out and, unless the football gods deny us, the season is ours to take.
And then, whatever coloured medals we collect on Sunday, we’ll go our separate ways for the off season. I know it’s been a very positive season for everyone, and most, if not all, of the players will want to be back in the spring, but the winter winds will blow us to the furthest corners of the globe, and we can’t know which ones of us fate will allow to return. I know for the first team players it will be a matter of where their professional contracts require them to be. Some of them are old enough to retire, others might be transferred, or even released.
Some of the other second team players will move because of family, or work, or school. Some will try their luck at other clubs, hoping to advance their footballing careers. I know one player hopes to get a trial in Colombia, while others have spoken of an opportunities in Thailand and Germany. I will be travelling abroad myself and, though I plan to return, my eyes will be open for business opportunities, which may or may not require me to relocate. Of course I’ll play while abroad too, but there are no plans—as of yet—for anything more than kickabout stuff.
Some of us may never see each other ever again. A strange thing, after spending time together almost every day, for seven long months. I guess that’s how life works: some paths are intertwined, while others cross momentarily, once or a few times.
Whatever happens, it’s been a fantastic season that has taught me so much about football, about people, about life and about myself, one that I will look back on again and again in the years to come. Whatever happens, I look forward to what tomorrow, and after, have to bring.
Three degrees and raining, just like in April. One last week of training. Let’s make it count.
Batteux infamously once told Kopa, “If you ever stop dribbling, I’ll take you out of the team.”
I read a line like this and I start daydreaming with a silly smile on my face of a time and a world that was different. Article on IBWM.
You might hesitate to celebrate a victory you feel you did not contribute towards, while sitting on the bench. But you must remember that winning is not the result of 90 or 120 minutes. It is the result of what happens on the training ground every day, week after week, through the season. Did you help your teammates prepare? Yes, go on and jump with them!
No, my reasoning was not that coherent in the heat of the moment, but, yes, I did jump with both the second and first teams yesterday, after both victories. Our season has been extended to the finals of the Canadian Soccer League Playoffs in November! We may be the first club to make the finals in both divisions at the same time.