By ALEX WAN, Squash Mad Asia Bureau
On a Sunday afternoon where most of the local folks are out spending time with families or merely resting the last hours of their weekend, a group of players, coaches and supporters of the Singapore squash team was busy with their fund raising event. Members of the public were given the opportunity to play anyone in the national team for a donation.
The event managed to raise close to a cool S$25,000 (GBP12,500) through donations and sale of specially designed T-shirts, not bad at all for an afternoon’s work. Out of this, S$10,000 (GBP5,000) came from Mr. Lesster Leow of Rwanda Honey, a long-time supporter of the sport.
The money will be used for overseas training stints and competitions of both the juniors and seniors.
This time round, part of it will also be used to assist (in the form of allowances) a group of seniors who will be taking unpaid leave to train for next year’s multi-sport event, the South East Asian Games, where the unconventional game of jumbo doubles will make its debut.
As squash is considered a minority sport in Singapore, funding from the government is at one of its lowest point.
Being the undisputed powerhouse of East Asian squash at one point, the sport is currently in a rather discouraging position. As such, there is also not a single full time athlete in the team.
The decision to stop work temporarily must have been a long thought. Given Singapore is the most expensive city to live in, it amplifies the feat even more.
Among those who are taking this route are current national champions Vivian Rhamanan and Joannah Yue, and national ladies number two Nur Adawiyah.
Vivian, a three time national champion, who said taking unpaid leave off work was a tough choice as he has two young children, but has his family behind his decision. But he will do it all over again if he had to and if there was more support and funding in the future.
Joannah, one of the household names in Singapore squash of this era and winner of more than ten national titles, on the other hand, does however, have some friends and family who think what she is doing is too big a sacrifice.
Nur, who teaches Mathematics and Science in a primary school, shared that as she is still at the beginning of her career, it will be a challenge financially.
While her family is supportive of her move, they also hope that their actions will pave way for better support from the organisations in future.
While Singapore may not be ranked among the best in the world, the desire, dedication and actions of this current group of players are right up there with the best.
Pictures by ALEX WAN for Squash Mad