"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
~ The legendary Bill Shankly.
When the weight of ennui in one's daily life becomes unbearable, you know it's time to throw yourself into team sports. Football resumed being the top priority in my life 2 months ago, and football helped my life stay structured and sane during a very difficult time. Although there were days when I felt as though the dark clouds in my mind would never lift, mustering the self-discipline to get up and leave the house to play football helped me focus my energies on being part of a team and putting the team first.
All the practice and training my team and I underwent was for the Annual Bench and Bar Games between the Malaysian Bar and the Singapore Law Society. Although Malaysia often faces little difficulty in trumping Singapore in the Games, Women's Football is an event in which the Malaysian side has yet to experience victory. Still, this does not discourage us from doing our best.
Our match took place at the SAFRA Tampines sports grounds on Labour Day, and I had travelled to Singapore by bus. I stayed with Covert Big Bro and Covert Sis-In-Law for the 4 days that I was in Singapore and spent a lot of time catching up with my friends, both 4-legged and 2-legged.
Hello again, SPCA Singapore! I've missed you! It's good to be back! It was a rather wet Saturday morning but I had arranged to meet up with my buddies, Mun Yee and Rachel, at the SPCA. I took the MRT to Bartley Station and arrived at the SPCA even before it had opened to visitors for the day.
Cats taking five in the Cattery. I asked the SPCA if I could be of use in the Cattery, but they said that I am not allowed to clean litter trays or baskets unless I have undergone their Volunteer Induction Programme. Ohhh-kay. So they want to make sure I haven't got a previous conviction for stealing soiled kitty litter.
Sad Puppy: "I is bored. I wants to come out."
Me: "Okies. Out you come."
Puppy: *Gnaw gnaw gnaw*
"Cos we are baaaack together again! And we are a force to be reckoned with!"
(From left to right: Rachel, me and Mun Yee)
I had missed Mun Yee when she took up a job offer in Singapore. It was good that we were able to stay in daily contact especially with the help of social media networks.
Mun Yee the dog bite victim seems unfazed by the attack on her by Casey, a Siberian husky-cross.
Here we are at the hotel lobby getting ready for physical training on Sat. I remember telling our goalie Soo Lung that we'll play catenaccio defence, but during the match the following day, everything was really chaotic and nobody stayed in position. Nothing new here.
At the hotel lobby with Coach Lanti (in the blue polo) on the afternoon of our match. Malaysia was leading by one point on Sat afternoon. Before we stumbled at cricket and women's football, that is. But we still won the Games in the end!
Clowning around on the team bus to the match grounds. I knew by now, with a good dose of self-realisation, that the only way we could even hope for a draw is to pray for a lightning storm that would stop the match. All I can say is that our team does not have the tenacity, commitment and drive seen in our Singaporean counterparts. We were informed that they trained as a team all year round. We, on the other hand, could not even muster 6 players for our practice matches and had to "import" players from other clubs. The younger players have never even worn their studded boots onto the pitch until the day of the match.
Grumpus Wumpus getting ready on the bus to the match grounds. I had lost one of the velcro straps to my shin guards and had improvised with surgical tape.
... And the referee is left eating dust.
Everything looks a bit crazy from where I was standing in the Reserves. Someone playing dirty, someone getting a headbutt, a rugby scrum going on somewhere in our third of the field. Same old, same old.
Bit of confusion there. I think it's our ball for the throw-in.
A team photo is in order even though we lost by a wide margin. Better luck next year, if we can get the juniors to come for practice often enough, that is.
Jac-Jac having a fit on the bus after the game. No, not really. She pulled a muscle in her left leg. We didn't spare her the ignominy of being ribbed. "Amputate her leg, Coach, amputate!" we chorused.
Jac-Jac, me, Rachel and Mun Yee waiting to be seated at the Orchid Country Club where we were to have our farewell dinner.
The football team has had enough of dressing up in identical outfits and rose to the occasion for the farewell dinner.
The food was appalling but the company was genial. Singaporean food is just Malaysian food washed under running tap water. I was given many dishes with mock meat in it. By the time the 3rd course arrived, I had to decline it as I could feel my blood pressure hitting the roof due to all the sodium and monosodium glutamate.
A parting haiku for the aolo bus ride home:
A reluctant rain
Anoints green-crowned sentries in my