SEA Games: The magic of a 'home' game

SINGAPORE - Singapore will host the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games for the first time in 22 years in June - the fourth occasion it will stage the region's biggest sports event after 1973, '83 and '93.

Yesterday, local organisers Singsoc revealed the plan to rally the country around the Games, the goal to raise and maintain excitement levels during the event - from June 5 to 16 - and the much-awaited ticket details.

Boxer Syed Abdul Kadir, footballer David Lee and sailor champion Benedict Tan featured prominently at the Games in 1973, 1983 and 1993, respectively.

Kadir, who won a silver medal in 1973 - the first time Singapore hosted the Games - recalled how everyone in the country was excited about the event.

Speaking to The New Paper, the 66-year-old said: "The atmosphere was great. We had a lot of support because boxing was one of the main sports in Singapore at the time.

"It was electrifying."

Goalkeeper Lee was in the team that lost narrowly to Thailand in the football final at the old National Stadium, going down 2-1 in front of 60,000 fans.

He relished the feeling of playing in front of a home crowd, but remembered being "deeply disappointed" over the loss.

The football competition is now an Under-23 event and Singapore have still to win gold and Lee, 56, hopes Aide Iskandar's boys will adapt to the pressure of playing in front of a big crowd.


"Hopefully they will be able to use the home-ground advantage to spur themselves on," he said.

"With a bigger contingent this year, I also hope Team Singapore will win more medals and achieve a top-three position in the medal tally."

Tan recalled that the Singapore team were under pressure to deliver in 1993, but the athletes chose to face it positively.

"We knew that Singaporeans would be behind us," said the four-time SEA Games gold medallist and 1994 Asian Games champion.

Tan wished to see more "heart" from spectators this year.

"There's a lot more effort to integrate the crowd this time round, so I hope more Singaporeans understand the benefits of a sports culture," the 47-year-old said.

"The athletes will definitely benefit if they can sense the crowd behind them."

This article was first published on January 29, 2015.
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