Cheering on the Southeast Asian Community
13 June, 2015
Yu Pei Fern and Woon Jiemin
The enthusiastic Thai supports in the stands. They are the family and friends of the Thai National Water Polo Team. Photo by Bjorn Ho / SINGSOC
Though one may imagine that the Singapore supporters would turn out in droves at the 28th Southeast Asian Games, sometimes it is the cheers from our neighbouring countries that ring the loudest. Such was the case during the Women’s Water Polo Round Robin match between Thailand and Indonesia, where a group of Thai supporters lifted the spirits of everyone in the OCBC Aquatic Centre .
Speaking to them after the match (though Thailand won 12-6 against Indonesia, they stayed on to cheer for the following match between Singapore and Malaysia), they seemed inspired by the energy pulsing through the games.
“When I travel on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), I see Singaporean boys and girls all come out to support,” beamed Suttchai, whose daughter was playing in the pool today. “Like the country very support. I feel it.”
The Thai supporters came prepared – wearing their Team Thailand Water Polo Team shirts, flags, bracelets and even headbands emblazoned with the of the Thai flag. Photo: Woon Jiemin
Throughout the two matches, the Thai supporters could be seen cheering enthusiastically for each team, showing their strong sportsmanship. They did more than just shout words of support and even rallied a dance among themselves. As though to thank them for their high levels of energy, a Thai song was played during one of the breaks in between quarters, to which they could be seen happily dancing to.
Such displays of sporting egalitarianism remind one of why the SEA Games were started– to unite the Southeast Asian community and build friendships across the region. Even as we compete for medals, it is important to remember the bigger picture.
Team Thailand shares a group huddle after winning the match against Indonesia. Photo by Bjorn Ho / SINGSOC
But that is not to say that we have let go what what is at stake– national pride and sporting glory. “I want Thailand to win, win, win and win!” Suttchai laughed as we thanked them for speaking to us.