Advertorial: POSB Everyday Champions 2009

Everyday Champion: Carol Lim

The inaugural POSB Everyday Champions awards was held on 26th February 2009 at St Regis.

Out of over 3,000 nominees (no, I didn’t nominate Coach Frank because of residency issues), 57 were winners on the night, and among them was Super Soccer Mum Carol Lim, 52, who 10 years ago set up the Elias Park Football Club.

EPFC is a football club with the emphasis on “club”. With most of the sport we watch on tv becoming more like entertainment businesses, it was nice to read about grassroots movements like Carol’s.

Through her efforts, she’s gotten thousands of kids to play, and has even gotten a training field for them. Now that’s a feat, considering there aren’t many publicly available playing fields here in the world’s most urbanized country.

Everyday Champion: Jason ChenAnother award recipient who tries to help others overcome shortcomings – personal disabilities this time – Jason Chen, 26, believes everyone can “do” sports – and he’s put together Asia’s first dragonboat team for the visually handicapped.

President S.R. Nathan graced the event and gave out the awards, and I can’t help but put a clunker here and say Sport Was The Winner On The Night.

What’s more, it’s not over yet. You can still log on to and vote for Singapore’s favourite POSB Everyday Champion in the following categories – Individuals, Coaches and Organisations.

Nine voters will win (will this winning ever stop?) $1,000 each, and in addition, the top three POSB Everyday Champions from the Individuals and Coaches category will win $2,000 each, while the top three favourites from the Organisations category will win $3,000 each.

So, what are you waiting for? Go vote for a winner!

Advertorial: SSC POSB Everyday Champions


I’ve been asked to write about either a person or an organization that inspires or supports or encourages participation in sports.

I can think of a handful of people I know who have been influential, although not in the way we’re accustomed to seeing, in promoting participation, and to a certain extent, excellence in their field of sport.

I recall very fondly my rugby coach in Sydney, Frank, who was in charge of our hapless MacArthur Mooses (rhymes with Losers) club’s men’s team, which was entrenched at the bottom of the NSWSRU’s 6th Division, and which didn’t look like winning a single match when I joined in the 2000 season.

With only about 20 players to pick from, it was a hard task every week trying to form a team of 15 players when a rough match the week before could decimate the playing stock through various injuries, but Frank soldiered on for some reason, and for some reason, the rest of the team soldiered on with him.

Before you think there’s a fairy tale ending here and the Mooses go on to win the division and get promoted to the 5th Division, stop. They lost every match of the 2000 season but one, and also in the following year.

Still I’m quite sure the team’s still in the competition somewhere, playing and losing and the players earning Frank’s quite remarkable ire every time.

Frank used to run us through our drills every training, very earnestly – shaking his head at every spilled ball, and egging us on with all sorts of vulgarities – which we eagerly translated to income via a swear-fine jar ($5 for every swear word).

And then there was one bizarre pre-match briefing which entailed Frank trying to hypnotise key players to help us play better. We lost that match 145-0, and urged Frank to try that trick on opponents instead. He just sighed, swore under his breath, and took $5 out of his wallet and put it into the swear-fine jar.

Not a potential nominee for coach of the year, Frank. But what my teammates and I liked about Frank and many other coaches/managers of the suburban sporting leagues in Sydney was their unwavering policy of “giving everyone a go”. It didn’t matter if you were tall, short, fat, skinny, fast or slow, he’d give you a run on the team at some point, whether or not you were a 100 game veteran or a newbie who’d just only recently touched a rugby ball.

It was no surprise that the MacArthur Mooses comprised Anglo-Australians, Pacific Islanders, Italian Australians, Lebanese Australians, and at the end of the backline, a Malay-Singaporean, a Chinese-Malaysian and of course, yours truly.

Everyone got a go, and I never once felt demoralized at being on the wrong end of hundred point hidings, and neither did my teammates. We loved playing, and being on the field, and being part of a sporting culture that embraced everyone.

Nothing sums it up more than one afternoon, while gearing up for another hiding on home ground, with my Malay-Singaporean teammate in the stands in charge of the BBQ stall because he is out injured with a broken nose. The referee is about to blow the whistle to start the game when my teammate yells:

“FRANK! Are these sausages HALAL? Because if they’re not, I shouldn’t be touching them!”

Frank, to his great credit, did not utter a single swear word in his response, which was simply a measured: “For the lot of you, whaddya think?”

If you, like me, are inspired by people who’ve pushed you to participate in sport, and think that that person or organization deserves mention – do check out the Singapore Sports Council’s POSB Everyday Champions and nominate them:

It could be your coach, your teacher, or your father who drives you to training every morning – anyone!

Speaking of which, I recall a teacher from secondary school at ACS who used to be in charge of our swimming PE lessons. Mr Goh, I think his name was, but which was often forgotten in favour of his more popular nickname, Darth Vader, on account of his raspy voice and stern demeanour.

Every swimming PE lesson, every boy in the class would be ushered into the swimming pool, and made to swim. No mucking about, no games, just swim, and swim laps.

Darth Vader would prowl the perimeter, and although dressed only in his Speedos, would never actually be in the water. In place of a light sabre, he had a broom stick or a swimming pool cleaner’s net, which he would use to prod boys who’d been tired enough to hang on to the side of the pool.

“SWIM”, he’d rasp.

“But sir, I’m tired”, would come the typical response.

“THEN SWIM SLOWLY”, he’d rasp again while poking you off the side of the pool.

And so, every boy swam at every PE. (OK, I’m exaggerating – some managed to get out of it totally).

And you might argue that the link is tenuous, but in 1984, some of the boys who’d swum in that same pool (Shaw Pool, Barker Road): Ang Peng Siong, Oon Jin Gee, Oon Jin Teik and David Lim formed the Singapore Olympic team that swam at the Los Angeles Olympics.

It all starts somewhere.

Nominations open from 16 Oct – 16 Nov 2008

Team Hoyt

If you don’t have enough of a tear-jerker among your Korean drama downloads, or you are simply inured to so many otherwise moving things in life, then you have to be told the story of Team Hoyt.

Rick Hoyt was born severely disabled and his parents were told he would live in a permanently vegetative state. His parents thought otherwise, and believed their intelligent son was merely trapped in a body that his mind couldn’t control. They were right, and the miracle didn’t stop there.

When they managed to rig a computer up so that Rick could ‘speak’ to them by tapping out letters, they discovered he was a sports fan, and then some. After Rick got his father to run his first road race with him (Dick pushing his son in a wheelchair), he said, “Dad, when we were running, it felt like I was not disabled anymore.”

Team Hoyt has since competed in 85+ marathons, 200+ triathlons and Iron Man events. I’ll leave you to read the rest of their stories. They moved me, and they should you too.

Team Hoyt Official Page
Rick Reilly’s Article

Local hero: Fandi Ahmad

16 July 1982: Ajax Amsterdam offers Fandi a three year contract

Fandi Ahmad got his first pair of football boots when he was 12. You’d think he’d have owned a pair earlier, or even been born wearing them. But early in his career (he started playing for school at 10), he wore hockey boots with rubber studs, until his father, national goalkeeper Ahmad Wartam could afford installments for a new pair of Adidas Inter.

Thanks to Naomi who brought up the topic of national footballers in the 90s, and thanks to the ingterneck, I have re-acquainted myself a little with football, and how it was when Fandi was in his prime.

Everyone knows at least vaguely that Fandi was some sort of football hero. But in my opinion, not enough mention is made of his achievements. And given the troubles Singapore football has been in the last couple of years, you either need a new hero, or at least, look back to when there were heroes.

Fandi is still the only Singaporean player that I know to have been pursued by European and South American clubs (Ajax, Groningen, Nottingham Forest, Boca Juniors) and to have played for some of them (Ajax, Groningen, Crete) and on 19 October 1983, scored in the 89th minute of a UEFA Cup match for FC Groningen against Inter Milan. Inter’s goalkeeper that day was Walter Zenga, Uomo-Ragna (Spider-Man), who played for Italy in two World Cups, and still holds the record for number of minutes (508) without conceding a goal.

Fandi was so talented that Ajax Amsterdam offered him a contract twice. Once right after he had completed a trial with them, and another after he had finished his stint with FC Groningen. This is what they (Ajax) said about him, thanks to Google Translate:

Who is this player, which some people after his first dribbels the “new Coen Moulijn” called and who was described by others as the “new Simon Tahamata of De Meer”. In Singapore, despite his youth, he was the absolute star and how popular he was in that country have demonstrated by the fact that he came to his departure to Amsterdam by around 500 fans were uitgezwaaid. Last week areas even though two journalists from the country of Ahmad in Drente down to the people in Singapore to reports of the actions of these bright, but schietgrage attacker. In Asia, but also in Argentina (Boca Juniors) were the qualities of Fandi Ahmad long discovered. But he and his family saw more bread in a career with Ajax.

It was just that he couldn’t get used to the “bread” at Ajax and chose to move back to Singapore before giving Holland a second go with Groningen. One can only imagine Fandi playing a stellar role alongside Marco Van Basten and Jan Molby (with whom he was recruited), and being mentored by the great Johann Cruyff.

on the sidelines with Marco Van Basten

For the short stint at Groningen, Fandi left his mark. The town of 180,000 people apparently remember him fondly. At least FC Groningen does – in 2003, they named Fandi in their best XI of the 20th century.

He might have regretted not sticking with Ajax or playing out a career in Europe. But Fandi was magic with the ball at home, in the sky blue Singapore jersey, scoring against hapless Malaysian opponents in the Malaysia Cup. Once, as I remembered, even by tapping the ball into the net with his heel when he was caught facing the wrong way. This was the boy from the kampung of Kaki Bukit, wherever that is now, and not a newly naturalised imported athlete from Sports School, and goodness, how he inspired. Those were the days I watched football (and listened to Brian Richmond call it on the Ovaltine Wide World of Sports).

So I say, bring out the archived footage of his exploits and let us enjoy them all over again. Football from the country of Ahmad needs it.

Why golf is as good as tennis

It’s time to take the clubs out of the closet.

 Images Annarawson Photopage 0103

Because golf’s Anna is as hot as tennis’ Maria. And I haven’t even seen her tee off, much less birdie a hole, but I’ll definitely (with the wife’s blessing) be keeping an eagle eye out for her, regardless of how many bogeys she makes or how long she’s stuck in a bunker.

Besides, you get more exercise being a bad golfer than a good one.

 Ffximage 2007 12 18 Mariasharapova2 Wideweb  470X336,0

Oh stop it, Maria. You had your time in the sun.

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