22 June 2017

Singapore has won the Asian Cup for three straight years — in table football (also known as Subbuteo)

So on Monday, The New Paper published my column comparing Singapore football to Burger King's new Hainanese chicken burger.

Today, I received an e-mail from the president of the Table Football Association of Singapore.

Not the Football Association of Singapore, mind you. The Table Football Association of Singapore.

Yes, there's such a thing. It even has a website.

Anyway, here is the e-mail:

I am Tan Kok Wee, President of the Table Football Association of Singapore (TFAS). We are an established association registered with the ROS since 2009.

Our role is to promote and develop sports table football (aka SUBBUTEO) in Singapore via engagement in community and grassroots events, including partnership with SportsSG.

In Singapore, sports table football have grown steadily over the years, and our regional and global profile is raising from strength to strength.

In particular, we have been very successful in the Asia regional stage, winning the Asian Cup for the last 3 consecutive years.

We attached a media release on our recent successful Asian Cup in Tokyo and the establishment of an Asian confederation together with the sports table football associations of Japan and Australia.

We hope you would help us raise the awareness of this sport by carrying a report of the Asian Cup event in your esteem publication.

Similar reports on the Asian Cup was carried in the Japanese, Australian and UK media. A sample of the relevant links to reports in English are as follows:

ABC New (Australia):

Kyodo New (Japan): https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/06/cac53ed5dc0e-feature-hope-flickers-for-table-soccers-growth-in-japan-and-across-asia.html

Inside World Football (United Kingdom): http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2017/06/13/subbuteo-builds-global-football-fingerprint-asian-confederation/#.WUZjQBWIJsc.facebook

Please feel free to contact myself at 9853-7423 or our Honorary Secretary, Vikas Chandiramani at 9816 0501 if you need any clarification or further information.

We will be most willing to provide more information to you.

I remember Subbuteo from childhood but have never played it, and I'm shocked that anyone still does.

And that there are international Subbuteo tournaments.

And that there is a Table Football Association of Singapore.

So Singapore may suck at actual football, but in table football, we are Asian champions.

Now if only we could have a rematch with Argentina - in Subbuteo.

EARLIER: How Singapore football is like Burger King's new Hainanese chicken burger

19 June 2017

How Singapore football is like Burger King's new Hainanese chicken burger

What an embarrassment for Singapore.

How could the powers that be let this happen in public for all the world to see? It was so humiliating.

As a Singaporean, I didn’t know who to root for.

I was torn by conflicting emotions.

Or is it a conflict of interest?

On the one hand, country comes first.

On the other hand, Argentina was the team we wanted to see at the National Stadium on Tuesday night.

This headline on the UK’s Daily Mail website gave us no face: “Singapore 0-6 Argentina: Jorge Sampaoli's bizarre 2-3-5 formation wreaks havoc with six different scorers netting against hapless hosts.”

Where are the organs of state when you need them?

Singapore getting beat up by a foreign power appears to be a recurring theme in the news of late.

In this case, some Singaporeans were even rooting for the foreign power as many Singaporean fans wore Argentina colours to the friendly match.

And it wasn’t just the spectators.

Two Singapore players were spotted asking for the jerseys of two Argentina players as they were walking off the pitch at half-time.

Perhaps the Singapore players wanted to switch teams for the second half.

Which is understandable, considering the final result.

And the state of Singapore football in general.

While it may be seen as ironic that the match was organised to commemorate the Football Association of Singapore's 125th anniversary, it’s actually quite fitting as the outcome of the match perfectly illustrates the decrepitude of Singapore football after 125 years.

Nobody likes to be on the losing team.

But then you gotta dance with the one that brung ya.

It’s like when Burger King introduced its Hainanese Tendergrill Chicken and Rendang burgers at the same time recently.

As a Hainanese person, I was naturally very excited to finally have a burger named after my dialect.

For too long, just as Singaporeans have been enamoured by foreign football teams, we have been slobbering over foreign burgers like McDonald’s Samurai and KFC’s spicy Korean burgers.

And don’t get me started on the french fries from France.

The problem is, because Burger King introduced the Hainanese and Rendang burgers at the same time, you can’t help but compare the two, therefore pitting brother against brother, I mean, burger against burger.

But like Singapore versus Argentina, it was no contest.

The Rendang burger is a returning favourite. Burger King even learnt from previous mistakes by leaving out the mayonnaise this time.

The fast food chain must have read my 2013 column where I wrote: “Rendang with mayo is a crime against nature and all taste buds.”

The Hainanese burger, however, is a new product and, like the Singapore football team, a bit of a disappointment.

It’s basically just a grilled chicken burger with some weird ginger sauce

A post shared by SM Ong (@sm_ong) on

So, as a Hainanese person, I’m torn by conflicting emotions.

Should I remain loyal to the Hainanese burger just because I’m Hainanese?

Or should I try to switch teams like those two Argentina jersey-seeking Singapore players and order the Rendang burger because it’s so much better?

I will need to form a not-secret ministerial committee to look into this.

- Published in The New Paper, 19 June 2017

Frankly speaking

1) The FAS is weak and useless . When they sign Sundram before the election , it really speak volume of their capability.

2) Sundram unfortunately is really not up to the mark.  He should be sack after the Argentina game.

3) the national players is poor.  Lack of creativity, speed, stamina , intelligence .

4) singapore should engage a renown coach and his own scouting team.  You cannot use our own scout who pick the same type of players that cannot propel Singapore forward.

Thank you
Johnny Lee

15 June 2017

I was stopped by police at the MRT station yesterday afternoon

So I had a weird afternoon yesterday.

It was a few minutes after 4 o'clock. I was on my way to work and had tapped out at Braddell MRT station.

In front of me were three Public Transport Special Command officers. You know, the guys in the grey berets who patrol the MRT?

I wondered if the country was on high alert because of the suddenly very public squabble between our prime minister and his sibs.

And then I remembered a woman was recently detained for pro-ISIS activities. That could be it.

I hoped I wouldn't be stopped because I was late for work.

Just as I was about to walk past them, one of the guys stopped me. Just my luck.

I took out my earphones to hear what he was saying to me.

All he kept saying was “spot check, spot check” as if I was supposed to know what to do.

I had never been stopped for a spot check before, so I waited for instructions. Although I instinctively wanted to take out my IC, I wasn't asked to do so yet.

"Spot check," he repeated.

I said: "Yah, so?"

Perhaps I sounded a little more insolent than I should.

He eventually asked to see my IC, which I handed to him. He then stepped away and I heard him read my name into his walkie-talkie.

Meanwhile, I just stood there awkwardly, feeling kinda embarrassed that passers-by must be looking at me and wondering what I did.

Was I behaving suspiciously because I was anxious about being late for work?

Even though I didn't do anything, I felt guilty for just being stopped.

While I was waiting for my IC, one of the other guys asked me where I was going. Eager to clear myself, I said I was late for work and even showed him my work pass.

He asked me if I was on the afternoon shift. I said night shift.

He said he thought the night shift starts at 7pm. That puzzled me. I was unaware there was some universal definition of “night shift” that states it must start at 7pm.

I said my work starts now and ends at midnight. He didn't seem very convinced.

It would be just like me to get arrested over semantics.

I wanted to take a selfie with them but then thought better of it as I didn't want to get into more trouble and make myself even more late for work.

So after I got my IC back and was told I could go, I quickly snapped a selfie with the cops in the background (circled) as I was leaving the station.

When I arrived at work, a colleague said I looked even "grungier" than usual.

I wondered if that was why I was stopped by police.

I headed for the men's room and bumped into a Malay cleaner whom I had never seen before. After leaving the men's room, I bumped into her again.

Apropos to nothing, she asked me: "Are you Malay?"

What a weird, random question.

I replied no.

She said I looked Malay because of what I was wearing on my head.

I wanted to say that my complexion is too pale for me to look Malay, but I just smiled weakly at her.

It was not the first time I wore the headgear to work. I usually wear it to keep sweat from my face when I'm running , but after my hair grew too long, nowadays I also wear it to keep hair from my face even when I'm not running.

You may ask, why don't I just cut my hair? I have explained that in an earlier article.

Wait, could that be also why I was stopped by the cops — because I looked Malay?

Because of my headgear?

Because of my long hair?

And what a weird coincidence that I would have the conversation with the cleaner in the same afternoon.

To cap it off, minutes after talking to the cleaner, I found out that I had misread a message from a colleague (the one who called me grungy) and I wasn't supposed to be working that day. It was my day off!

So I had rushed to work for nothing. I wasn't late at all. I was stopped by police for nothing.

As I shuffled back to the MRT station to go home, feeling like an idiot, I realised the three TransCom officers could still be there.

If they see me again, they would think I had lied to them about going to work after all that discussion about "night shift" and me working until midnight.

How was I going to explain myself?

To my relief, when I reached the MRT station, the cops weren't there any more because even I couldn't be that unlucky.

Perhaps it's time I get a haircut.


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