Football fever, kampung style

Football fever, kampung style
FOOTBALL FANS: All are welcome to watch the match with Mr Rooban Kanth, who placed his flat-screen TV outside his family’s landed home.

It's 1.30am, and a football fan screams at a near miss while watching the World Cup on a TV screen.

Those along Sing Avenue, off Rangoon Road in Balestier, don't seem to mind that Mr Rooban Kanth's flat-screen TV is outside his family's landed home. In fact, neighbours complain if he does not screen the matches.

Mr Rooban, an ardent football fan, said he usually watches matches in his house with his futsal team. But they decided to up the ante for the World Cup.

The 26-year-old fresh university graduate and his team, the Dorset Boys, decided to screen the matches on the street outside his family home, something they have never done before.

On one side of Mr Rooban's house is an empty house and on the other a small apartment building.

Armed with extension cables and a foldable table, the 12 of them set up Mr Rooban's 42-inch LCD TV on the street for the opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

But by the end of the match, they were joined by eight others, drawn by the cheers and jeers.

They would watch almost every match outside, and soon neighbours started coming with their chairs and snacks to join them.

Mr Benny Pang, 45, and his 10-year-old son Pang Chun Ean, who live a minute's walk away from Mr Rooban's house, are among the regulars.

GOOD OLD KAMPUNG DAYS

Mr Pang, who does not subscribe to cable TV, even likened the feel to that of the good old kampung days.

He said: "We sit on stools we've brought from our homes, mixing around and watching the match in the open air. The only difference is that the TV has colour now!"

Even migrant workers from nearby dormitories have been joining them.

Mr Jakir Hossain said he was grateful Mr Rooban allowed him to catch the action.

Said the Bangladeshi worker: "I'm very thankful for this, as normally I would not be able to watch the matches."

Mr Rooban, who has no issues with people dropping by to catch the action, said: "I'm also largely doing this for the foreign workers around because they really love football, but they don't get the chance to watch.

"For some matches, like the recent Argentina-Iran game, there were so many of them that I estimated the number at around 60."

The kampung spirit was infectious, with banter exchanged freely and the crowd cheering and groaning as one.

Midway through the Uruguay-Italy match yesterday, cans of beer and energy drinks were passed around. Mr Rooban even set up a fan to ensure the comfort of the viewers.

His family is also supportive of his actions, with his elder brother joining him, and his mother approving of his desire to share the joy. He said there is even a wet weather plan.

"We were watching the opening match when it started to rain. Everyone just grabbed something and we all moved to a nearby sheltered corridor to continue watching."

With praise of his neighbourly act spreading fast on the Internet, people have travelled from all over to his home.

Mr Eugene Tan, who drove from Bukit Timah with his friend, said: "I saw what he did on (citizen-journalism website) Stomp, so I came all the way down to show support."

Mr Rooban is not worried about having too many people turning up..

He said: "The more people there are, the happier I'll be. After all, it's not about watching football here, it's about celebrating the World Cup!"

mxoh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 26, 2014.
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