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Of Vuvuzelas, Jabulanis & Tshabalalas

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Ah yes, after 1 month of football decadence, the 2010 World Cup has finally reached the penultimate stage. Spain vs Netherlands it is.

An observation from this world cup and recent football tournaments. One thing is apparent in modern football, successful teams are built from the bottom up. Gone were the days where we witness the likes of Maradona or Eusebio running through the entire defence of the opposition and scoring a classic goal. Teams of today are more tactically and defensively shrewd and that is one of the reasons why the stars of football like Messi, Rooney and Ronaldo went missing. To say that their performances were ordinary is an overstatement. Games nowadays are mostly won not so much by attacking flamboyance, but by organized defence, which forms a strong backbone of any team. I really thought that it was going to be a year of the South Americans, with most of them making it through to the knockout phases and playing pretty attractive football. However, they were brought back to reality when faced with more astute European opponents who exposed the fragility of their defence. Quite shocking at times really. Dunga tried to emulate the qualities of modern football by sacrificing a bit of the samba magic that Brazil once possessed with a more complete all round team, but as we all know they failed.

One of the let downs I thought was the performances of the African teams. I really enjoyed watching the likes of Gyan from Ghana sprinting down the touchline or Tshabalala from South Africa… well mostly because of his name. But you got to admit that these African teams epitomizes the unpredictability and heart-ware of the game. It’s like a “Kinder Surprise” every time you watch them play.

On the lighter side of things, like every World Cup tournament there are the  infamous oracles and jinxes. Paul the Octopus who was born in England predicted all 6 of Germany matches correctly. Amazing. Sometimes, it’s such unexplained phenomena that defies all logic that captures our imagination. How about jinxes? Apparently one reporter claimed that the remaining world cup teams playing has politely dissuaded Mick Jagger from attending the matches and supporting his favorite teams. Well, The US team which lost to Ghana and England team which was pitiful against the Germans were victims of his curse I guess. And who could forget all the pre tournament hype surrounding the Nike football advertisement? The likes of Ribery, Canavaro, Rooney, Ronaldo, Drogba mesmerized audiences in the advertisement, but not on the pitch sadly. And of course, the forgotten man, Ronaldihno who starred in the advertisements as well. Nike could not have picked a more perfect lineup of World Cup duds.

How about the controversies surrounding the Jabulani balls? The Europeans despise it, evident from the number of free-kicks and long range goals they scored with it. Regardless, I never understand the need to launch a new ball design with every major tournament. Yes, despite the need for branding, marketing revenue, blah blah, but at the cost of the quality of football? Come on…

Finally, who can forget the sounds of the Vuvuzelas? Loads of complaints in the beginning of the tournament, but I guess all of our ears have been so accustomed with the sound, the next time we catch an English Premier League match, we’ll find something amiss.

So yes,  it has been a rather colorful tournament in all, certainly worth the late nights. Kudos to South Africa for hosting the world spectacle, and if there is one World Cup winner, it should be them. As a country that has progressed from a history of apartheid and poverty, I certainly hope that the financial and intangible benefits of hosting the World Cup will alleviate some of the socioeconomic factors plaguing the country for years.

Till then, see you at the finals…

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Written by Nabs

July 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Posted in BODY

Singaporean on Paper or Heart?

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photo by Sebastian Mary

Congratulations to our woman’s table tennis team for clinching the world cup from our arch rivals China. It is another milestone in Singapore’s sporting history. Only thing missing is the enthusiasm of support among Singaporeans.

I could see it coming, after reading about our triumph in Moscow. The never-ending debate about our Sports representatives not being “true blue” Singaporeans, hence the lack of national empathy and pride associated with their victories. And of course like any national issue that our incumbent is uncomfortable with, they will point to extremities via their propaganda mass media, attempting to alienate alternative views and sway public opinion. Just like how they claimed that we are all xenophobic when it comes to foreigners of all classes and how they are critically needed to fill lower end jobs that we shun, OR how they should lock our CPF funds up if we liquidate our property just because some guy irresponsibly squandered his proceeds away.

On a similar tone, we are told to embrace the efforts of our table tennis world champions, treat them as fellow Singaporeans and not be ungrateful [link]. Well, once again these reporters are missing the point. A hidden agenda perhaps…  I reckon the majority of us certainly do not doubt the effort and time put in by our peddlers in achieving what they have today. And we also acknowledge the fact that they were “unpolished diamonds” when our scouts found them and we nurtured their talent to be world beaters. We are also told that like the Zidanes of France and the Cacaus of Germany, many countries are importing their way to victories. It’s an unfair comparison if you ask me.  Firstly unlike us, the majority of their representatives are still natives or second generation immigrants who were brought up there, with a handful of new immigrants to boost their strength. Secondly, Singapore is a young country with a mere 50 years of independence as compared to other developed countries with a couple of hundred years of history.Are we already putting our hands up and forgo generic growth in our local sportsmen? A small population is not a problem as seen in countries like Denmark and Norway which boasts world-class sports representatives.  A very typical fear mongering type of mindset that our ruling party instilled in us led us to believe that we must be world beaters ASAP in anything we do, and the end justifies any means even if it takes blatant importing of talent in the sporting scene. I dare say, what’s the rush? Is it just to meet a certain key performance indicators (KPIs) that government boards are so fond of?

I’m sure it takes time and money to nurture home-grown talents, but for every sportsmen, it is definitely worth it if he has the full support of the nation he is representing. Never mind the world cup, a regional cup would suffice, because the passion of a true sportsman lies in not what material rewards he’ll attain by winning a competition, BUT the pride of representing his country and adornment & fervor of his supporters. Just look back in the nineties and the Malaysia cup. Never mind if it’s a competition among the states of merely 2 countries, the pride of seeing our local footballers in action is for all to see.

This leads to the ultimate question, can our China born peddlers that represent us feel connected to our country? I am utterly frustrated by the mass media because,why is the focus always on the negativity of  Singaporeans whining about our foreign-born athletes? Why can’t the focus be on these new immigrants instead? Ask them about their sense of patriotism or whether they can truly call Singapore home. Ask them what were in their hearts when our national anthem was played at the podium? What can they identify with our country that will keep us in their long-term plans? It is paramount that we know the answers to these questions because at the end of the day with our low fertility rates, we are relying on these new generation of immigrants which includes these athletes to sustain the growth of our country.  It does not help that they can only speak Mandarin during interviews. No wonder some Westerners think Singapore is in China. Gees.

Written by Nabs

June 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Posted in BODY, MIND, Politics

Poetry in motion

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They say visualization works wonders. I’m watching this almost everyday and try to emulate it at the range. TRY.

Brilliant weight shift from the right to left leg during the downswing. Entire body is pivoted on the left leg which maximizes swing power. Awesome stuff.

Written by Nabs

May 21, 2009 at 3:36 am

Posted in BODY, Golf