"Will the rain stop?"... My colleague and friend, Heng Yie, on the sidelines, Team WHATEVER vs. Team SYNERGY League Match, Soccer Carnival, St. Wilfrid Sports Complex, St. George's Road, Singapore, 21 April 2012
IT IS not my nature to commit in halves. It is either I commit, or I don’t. So when I pledged my support to my colleagues and friends that I would be there to see them bend it like Beckham, I meant to be there for all of them – for the guys last Sunday and for the girls earlier today.
Though I don’t think I’d hear the end of it from Kiddo. She pointed out how shamelessly late I was. I blamed it on the rain. I don’t remember her actual reaction. But from the looks of it, she could have very well just told me, “WHATEVER!”
Soccer has never been my spectator sport of choice. Track and field is my favorite, having toyed with the illusion of becoming a world-famous sprinter. But a couple of weekends spent watching these brainy individuals – I’ve already declared how much I look up to most of them – morph into goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and strikers, gave me a deeper appreciation of the sport.
Not to mention a higher level of respect for colleagues and friends who clearly are so much more than computer programs, data analysis, resource allocation, and fault isolation that, in the nature of their jobs, often goes to dimensions in the order of tens of thousandths of the thickness of human hair.
The fact that soccer is quite a physically demanding sport; these girls – much like their Head Coach Kelvin and the rest of the guys in Sunday’s matches – were willing to risk limb and flawless skin in the name of the game. Pulling a muscle the wrong way, tumbling several times on the green artificial turf, and sustaining cuts and bruises were all just part of their end goal in mind – to win this year’s championship crown.
It was no easy feat. It took all of seven matches – five league, one semi-final, and the final – and a lot of goal-creating opportunities, actual shots taken, passes, interceptions, and quite a number of tackles before the Team clinched victory. And the defending champions, who clearly came in to the field with targets on their back from just about every other participating team, didn’t make it easy either. Every match always turned out to be one good fight.
Each was so good that not even the rain that came pouring down very early in the morning – which for hours didn’t show any signs of letting up – was enough to put a dent on the day. Sure, it drenched the field and soaked the players in their jerseys. But that was all that it dampened – definitely not the spirits.
I went to the soccer carnival excited to see my friends play, and by the time the program was through, I took away with me a truth so clear, it was in sharp contrast to the overcast sky.
Whatever your language, whatever your nationality, whatever you do, when you work with your team and you put your heart into it, together you can all win. Remember, WHATEVER.
Congratulations to Team WHATEVER for winning this year’s Soccer Carnival! I’m so proud of all of you!
"We Are The Champions"... Mitch, Shan Shan, Kia Leh, Marge, Bee Lian, Evone, Joyce, Cheng Cheng, Suk Li, and Team Captain, Kwai Han.
Getting ready for one big fight!
One... Two... Three... WHATEVER!!!
"Of course, we can win this next one!"
A smile to the camera from Shan Shan. Her delicate frame and sweet smile belie how much of an aggressive striker she could be on the field!
Shan Shan in action
Shan Shan dribbles.
Maneuvering some more
Shan Shan kicks the ball in.
"The ball is mine!"
Shan Shan sees an opening and scores!
Cheng Cheng rejoices!
One Ball to rule them all, One Ball to fight over. One Ball to bring them all, and in the pouring rain on the field, bind them.
Kiddo, patiently waiting in the wings.
Kia Leh and Kwai Han. I saw them form "91" with their jersey numbers. That was the year I graduated from high school... at the top of my class. Har har har!
Winning five straight matches (so far) could take its toll. The girls would take very quick power breaks in between.
Kia Leh is a fireball of energy on the green.
This photo of Kwai Han has the feel of a shampoo or a beauty soap ad. Seriously!
I told her about it and the self-effacing person that I've always known her to be made this cute face. Of course that's Kiddo Kia Leh in the background.
As Kwai Han proved, they are more than just pretty faces. They are fun, fab, but at the same time fearless. And in this shot, kind of fierce. Rawrrrrr!
Joyce, Kia Leh and Kwai Han battle it out for control of the ball.
Shan Shan, Kia Leh and Michelle charge to convert this goal-creating moment.
Goooaaal!!! Team WHATEVER scores!
Joyce, Kwai Han, Eone, Kia Leh and Cheng Cheng protect the goal.
A head butt interception from Eone saves the day! Haha!
Michelle, Cheng Cheng and Shan Shan charge forward!
Michelle is determined to meet the blues head on.
Bee Lian rejoices!
Cheng Cheng looks at the ball as if telling it, "Cooperate or else. Either way, you'll get good kicking from me!"
Cheng cheng intercepts and successfully stops the ball on its tracks.
Now, it is mine!
"If you want it, come and get it." Cheng cheng prepares to fight over the ball.
Cheng Cheng is one of the girls who sustained some injury during the games. Here, she is attended by both Bee Lian and a staff of the Medical Team.
Be Lian said that she has a built-in camera detector. She knows whenever she needs to flash her megawatt smile. Here, she realizes I was covering the moment and beams, some of the players and the supporters, including the injured Cheng Cheng couldn't help but smile as well.
A fleet of supporters is important to any sports team. Or sometimes, that ONE SUPPORTER is all that matters.
11 + 3 = 1
Don't be afraid. You can play this game.
Team WHATEVER enjoyed the loyal support of colleagues and friends like Kok Wah, Chee Hou, and Heng Yie.
Not even the non-stop rain could keep Jellyn and everybody else from supporting the team.
The team could definitely count on Eric, Heng Yie, Chee Hou, Way Hung, Ee Xyan, and Jellyn to be there.
All the pretty ladies! Who run the world?! Girls! Hehe...
Some of the guys jumped in - Chee Sian, Assistant Coach Der Zhan, and Chee Hou.
Yu Ting was clowning around and finally made it to the group shot. Haha!
Let's hear it for the boys!
Once more with the girls
There's a Team WHATEVER because there's a Head Coach Kelvin.
Kelvin, the cool coach, here wearing his cool Oakley sunnies.
Coach Kelvin keeps a close watch on the team's moves.
Kelvin is quite the cool coach. I think I was more hyper than he was. Haha!
Coach Kelvin and Team PE Player, Wee Hee.
Coach Kelvin confers with Wee Hee while Adam captures the action in still.
This is Adam, who used to be one of my engineers in the Philippines. Here, he comes across to me as the photography enthusiast that he really is!
The Sunday prior, these guys, Timothy, Kelvin and Wee Hee, went to the field to play. They came back to officially officiate in the matches. Though I guess a part of them was silently cheering for Team WHATEVER. Haha!
One of the supporters who came was my good friend Way Hung, who I learned, through this shirt, to be Team WHATEVER's Kwai Han's secondary school classmate in Perak, Malaysia. Friendships do last.
See there, Kwai Han!
And that's his, Way Hung!
While I did assume that Kelvin will just be all too happy to teach me how to play, I won't mind being coached by this guy. I call this photo, "Way Hung and his Power Kick". I first saw just what he could unleash with one kick of that ball on the practice field at Kallang Community Center. You wouldn't want to be at the receiving end of that kick. Haha!
Okay, let's try something else fancy.
A dribble here...
And that's how you play.
Of course I attempted...
But my best contribution would be to pick up the balls after the real athletes!
So I just went on to have my photos taken with some of these lovely, beautiful, interesting people I saw on the field. Here, with Shan Shan.
With Coach Kelvin!
With Kwai Han
With my own coach (haha!), Way Hung. And oh, I haven't acknowledged yet the special participation of Mickey Mouse. Haha!
Me and someone else's umbrella which I picked up from the pile on the green. Don't worry, I made sure I returned it.
Way Hung, Yong Run, eNTeNG
With Karen who was doing emceeing duties for the second time around. Good job, Karen!
With one of the nicest and loveliest people in the office, Joey! See that on her arm? Artwork! People do have a fun side to them. Body painting looked great on her.
A few more action shots. Here with Shan Shan, Cheng Cheng and Mitch. Good deflection by Shan Shan!
Shan Shan and Kwai Han team up to show their opponents just how it is done.
See what I mean!
Shan Shan is now in control.
Sports Superstars have a veritable fan base. Here, Team WHATEVER poses with their very own!
Let's try that one more time!
There would be a number of cameras flashing all at the same time everytime these girls and their supporters strike pose that we sometimes wouldn't know if we were done or not. Haha!
Bee Lian said that she has a "built-in camera detector". She knows when the lens is being trained upon her sight. I have to say it is true. Here, she knew exactly I was trying to steal a shot. (Way Hung, why so serious?! Hehe...)
Ladies and gentlemen, Beyonce!!! "All the single ladies... All the single ladies..."
Kwai Han, Kia Leh, Assistant Coach Der Zhan, and Joyce
How can the really gloomy sky bring anyone's spirits down when smiles are this bright?!
Shan Shan... Milo should be paying you for this photo. You could very well be their new endorser!
I have to say, Team WHATEVER had the hugest loyal following that day!
After 17 matches on the field, everything boiled down to these final two matches.
Team WHATEVER takes on last year's champions, Synergy. Go Team WHATEVER!!!
The road to victory...
They even clinched a special title, that of the highest-scoring team!
What is their hands saying? Oh yeah, number one!!!
Here they are joined by the two guys who really helped make this all happen, Assistant Coach Der Zhan, and Head Coach, the Kelvin!
Everybody now joins in on the celebration!
Celebrate good times. Come on!
Presenting this year's Soccer Carnival Champions, Team WHATEVER!
On top of their medals, the girls received a special award for being the highest-scoring team.
The taste of victory!
Der Zhan, Timothy, and Kelvin
Clearly, a part of this victory is offered by the girls to their friends and supporters.
The girls get movie vouchers for scoring the highest!
Suk Lee even won a lucky draw prize!!! She got the 10th in an array of 15 prizes.
Kwai Han and her medal
Can you handle this?!
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