What was that? A jaunt to Singapore under the guise of chasing pig-skin? Only have to pay for my airfare? Hotel will be nice rather than cockroach infested hell-hole! Count me in!
So, off I went for a solo tour to the lovely, accessible and exceptionally clean city state of Singapore for another couple of games of footy with the esteemed Jakarta Bintangs. Singapore is different to Indonesia. Very different. In almost every way. They are almost impossible to compare and offer such vastly different experiences. Singapore is so clean, organised, structured and regulated. There is a fine or penalty for everything. A sign telling you not to do this or that. People follow the rules (generally). You can cross the street. Use a crosswalk. Cars tend to be on the correct side of the road. It’s weird.
Singapore isn’t better than Indonesia. It’s definitely cleaner and Indonesia could learn a thing or two about organisation and civil works, but it is so regulated. You almost feel like you need to pay for a fun license when you arrive and only have fun in approved areas. Singapore is a bit like that girl you liked in high-school. She’s sweet, she’s nice, every likes her. She’s pretty enough. You loved spending time with her, but eventually you got a bit bored, noticed other girls with a little more mystery and sex appeal, and off you ran – traipsing through South-East Asia strapped to a backpack looking for something “interesting”.
All that aside, I do really enjoy visiting Singapore. Living there I think would get a little samey after a while, but for short visits (and football related jaunts it’s perfect). We were on tour to take on regional powerhouse (and ferociously named) Singapore Wombats and massive “local” rivals the Malaysia Warriors. We brought along a decent squad comprising of 11 able-bodied bule expats from Jakarta, two dodgy ring-ins from Yogyakarta (myself and man’s-man JP)and four brave Indonesian guys to compete in two, 16-aside games. Malaysia were a little undermanned but brought a will to compete and Singapore enjoyed a home ground advantage (and about 30 on the bench).
The weather – hot. The footy – frantic. We held our own in the first half against Singapore before being overwhelmed by wave after wave of fresh players. A well-earned rest and the chance to watch Singapore and Malaysia hurt each other, followed before grudge match especial versus Malaysia. We succumbed to peer pressure and grabbed a few ring-ins of our own from Singapore (purely to supplement our talent, they were rubbish really). Thankfully the heat took a lot of the sting out of the game and reckless violence gave way to champagne football. Well, perhaps Passion Pop football. All the same it was a fierce contest, mano a mano, with pride, bragging rights and a large trophy on the line. After being down at half time, we were dragged back in to the contest by our asli Indonesian players, spurred on by centuries of rivalry over language, culture and batik; and eventually ran out convincing (two goals) winners.
As with any football club anywhere in the world, what followed was presentations and some responsible and mature skolling games. I managed to proxy my award of reasonable player in the first game to the “Max” part of my Bintangs nickname (Max’s Mate Carl), who did a fine job of restoring the shame I dealt to the club for refusing my beer. Then time for a quick swim back at the hotel and a rendezvous with the Singapore and Malaysia guys for some more light-hearted banter, a kebab and more gentle skolling. The night soon gave way to revelry as we charged up our fun cards with fun credits and headed to Clarke Quay to dance the night away. In an organised and safe manner.
As what happens on your stays on tour (see: my camera had a flat battery), Jack wanting to ikut is all that makes the cut!