Saturday, May 23, 2015

Football Diplomacy

I played football when I was a schoolboy but at best, I can only make it to class team and not beyond. My favourite player was Kevin Keegan who played for England and Liverpool as midfielder. Admittedly, I tried to emulate him but still cannot improve on my footballing skills.  In the nutshell, I am not cut out to be a footballer.

When I was stationed onboard a passenger vessel, 'Leisure World' for a short spell, I organised football game for the crew members on shore.  That was in the mid to late 90s.  The ship has many nationalities but the Burmese crew are one football craze lot.  Some were really good.  Many of our Filipino crew were not interested in football.  When we had Brazilian entertainment crew onboard, I approached a former colleague who was managing an Italian class passenger vessel, 'Renaissance' for a friendly football match.  The game was on and it was to be played at PSA Sports Club.

My former colleague, Vincent was the manager for his team while I acted for my team.  When our players were doing their warming up, I issued a warning to Vincent that we had Brazilian players in our team and asked whether he wanted to bet with me.  When he saw our Brazilian players who looked muscular and fit, he was awestruck.  Before we started play, he was already betting his team to lose.  On his side, his officers were from Italy and some of the younger officers were playing.  I even told him at least he had Italian players on his side but he was already "defeated" when he saw some of our fit and mean looking Brazilian players.

When the referee blew to start, it was actually his Italian players who were controlling the game.  As for our Brazilian players, actually our Myanmar players were a notch better than them.  I then turned to Vincent and told him our Brazilian crew do not play football as they were professional dancers only.  Our Brazilian players were all over the place, couldn't kick the ball properly and easily lost possession of the ball to the opponents.  It was quite comical watching our "prized" Brazilian players on the field.  Vincent's team played very well and his Italian players were fast, controlled the ball well.  Very soon, they were one goal up and leading.  I cannot remember the final score but we lost eventually.  I then turned to Vincent who was betting against his own team, gave him a good laugh and he was dumbfounded.

Another occasion when I arranged a friendly football match for our office team against a local team. Most of my younger colleagues were in their 20s and some had just ROD from the Commandos.  They were fit and in their prime.  Derrick was the team captain and I asked if his team had been training well.  He gave me the confident look and then told me not to worry.  The night before the game, some of them including team captain, Derrick were actually partying away onboard the vessel.

It was still the same ground at PSA Sports Club.  When I arrived, the other players from the other team were already warming up but our players were still not to be seen yet.  Then slowly but steadily, our players made their grand entrance to the field.  They looked "stoned" as they were drinking merrily onboard the day before.  Derrick even assured me that they will do well but deep inside me, I was not that hopeful.  

When the match was kicked off, it was lopsided all the way.  Our players cannot muster enough strength to chase, evidently their fitness was all gone and they were not chasing after the ball at all.  One goal up, two goals up, three goals up and counting.  I was unfit to play but some of our players were already burning out fast and reluctantly, I had to step in too.  The other side relented on their assault and finally, we managed to score a solitary goal through late Seow.  The score in the end read 12 to 1, I think or maybe more, I cannot remember the actual score.  We had a good thrashing and a wake up call.  From there on, I never organised another football game for the office team anymore to preserve our dignity.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Aranda May Day Run 2015

Group picture at the club

This morning I helped to organise for my club's maiden run event, the Aranda May Day Run 2015. In all some 80 runners signed up for the run which covers a distance of 5.5 km at Pasir Ris Park.

To prepare for the run, I had to wake up at 0445 hrs and quickly leave my house to pick up two staff from Aranda Country Club, Vivian and Linda along the way.  We had early breakfast at McDonald's joined by the rest who were involved in the early morning set up.  Steve, one of our house committee members who helped with the set up of the water station at half way mark joined us for breakfast too.

At the start line

Our flag-off was scheduled at 0800 hrs and already, some runners arrived early.  When I saw a group of young runners from F1 running group, I knew it will be an uphill task for our Team Aranda runners, the likes of Peter, Gavin and Simon and my regular run kaki, Long Chua to snatch a podium finish.  I was also expecting Vanja who had registered under F1 group (she hails from Belgium and she has been a top finisher in all local 10 km run events since she arrived in Singapore more than 2 years ago) but to my slight disappointment, she did not turn up in the end.  But it was still a strong turnout of runners especially some of the male runners.

Final remainder to runners before the flag-off

Tan Chai Koon, our Club's house committee Chairman was our guest-of-honour who will flag off the runners.  Peter Goh, the General Manager of both Orchid Country Club and Aranda Country Club joined in with the flag-off too.  Among my friends who signed up, Long Chua came with his whole family, Doreen Go, Esther and Khishgee (one of our run kakis who was aiming for a podium finish in the ladies' category).  Edmond and his wife, Jamie did not turn up as they overslept.

The start venue is at the start of the park connector near Aranda Country Club and when all marshals and water point were up and ready, our runners were finally flagged off at 0800 hrs.  The actual distance was slightly less than 5.5 km.  The weather was fine though it did look like it was going to rain with some overcast building up.

Our runners at Pasir Ris Park

I was waiting at the finishing together with some.  The chat group we created reported the runners at different stage and therefore we had a fairly good idea of the various positions of the runners especially the front pack.  It was reported that the front runners were from F1 group.  When the first runner dashing down on the final 100 metres stretch, he was from F1 run group.  He was running at a very fast pace and when he hit the tape, he was just under 20 minutes.  My stopwatch showed 19 mins 57 secs.  The first runner up came in some 37 seconds later.  7 seconds later, the second runner up came in.  Long Chua was not that bad too.  He was in 7th position and credit to him, he actually beat some of the much younger F1 runners too.  For the ladies, the first runner clocked 23 mins 41 secs.  1st runner up came in 1 min 13 secs followed closely by the 2nd runner up 19 seconds later.  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Khishgee running down the final stretch and came in 4th position, just missing out on the podium finish.  Had Khishgee trained more regularly, she could have been among the podium finishers.  In all, not that bad for my Wednesday running group.  For Team Aranda runners, Peter came in first followed by Gavin, Simon and Teong in that order.

The podium finishers

After the run, the runners were ushered to Ban Hing Restaurant for a light breakfast and refreshment. Completion certificate was presented to everyone and of course, all the 6 runners from F1 group grabbed all the top three in the men's and ladies' category respectively.  However, we did prepare one exclusive trophy for our Aranda's member.  It is an inspiration award and it went to Teong, our regular runner at Aranda.  Teong did not expect to receive this award but he truly deserved it.  Teong who is in his 60s has set good example to many senior citizens to take up exercise to stay fit and this is the message we want to put to our senior members in the club.  A lucky draw followed and the morning event ended with three loud cheers from all - hip, hip, hip...hooray (3 times)!  Aranda May Day Run will be back again next year, I am sure.