Avid netball player dreamt of being in national team

Avid netball player dreamt of being in national team

Rachel Ho had cried at the airport moments before leaving Singapore on the ill-fated school trip to Kota Kinabalu.

It was one of the rare times she had cried before leaving on an overseas trip, said her father, Mr James Ho, 45.

Mr Ho, who works in a bank, said Rachel was upset as she had forgotten to take along the shirt the team had planned to wear when they reached the summit.

But the 12-year-old never made it to the top.

An earthquake in Sabah last Friday claimed the lives of Rachel and five other children, along with those of a teacher and an adventure guide on the expedition.

"Perhaps that was God's way of telling us that Rachel did not want to leave us," he said.

Holding back tears, Mr Ho said the past week has been a rollercoaster ride for him and his wife - from learning of the earthquake to identifying Rachel's body.

At the time of the accident, she was believed to have been strapped to a rope course by a carabiner. Her body was found with a boulder as large as a car next to her body, he said.

Mr Ho and his wife could identify Rachel as she was wearing a pink jacket. "To see her motionless was unbearable," he said.

Mr Ho said Rachel had a passion for netball and dreamt of being in the national netball team.

She had played for the school team for the past three years. She would practise shooting hoops every day - sometimes even during her recess in school.

One of the last things the family did together was to watch the Singapore-Thailand netball match for the South-east Asia Games.

The netball national team paid a visit to Rachel's wake yesterday afternoon, presenting Mr Ho with an autographed plastic medal.

Choking on tears, Mr Ho said: "Rachel would have been very touched and I wish she were here to see this." She had dreamt of becoming a banker, a lawyer or a dentist, he said.

She was good with her hands and liked to make rubber-band bracelets with loom bands, paint her nails and make clay models.

She was also very close to her parents and would often ask to sleep in their room. She had a habit of holding her father's hand, hugging and kissing him every night before she fell asleep.

Mr Ho, his wife and their oldest child, Ryan, 15, had spent the night before the wake picking out Rachel's favourite toys and clothes to put inside her coffin.

"We shared a lot of memories, photos and joy. That helped to ease the pain for us so we could sleep last night," he said.

The family has not broken the news to their younger son, Raphael, who is in Primary 1 at Tanjong Katong Primary School.

Mr Ho said it was comforting to the family that the whole nation was behind them.

"When it was announced that today would be a national day of remembrance, we were very touched," he said.

This article was first published on June 9, 2015.
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