The Timor Leste basketball team at the Closing Ceremony of the 28th SEA Games. Basketballer João Baptista Da Silva Ribeiro said he made a lot of friends at these Games and loves Singapore. Photo: SINGSOC
After more than two weeks of hard work, trepidation and excitement, the 28th SEA Games in Singapore finally came to an end, with a closing ceremony and an exciting after-party to cap off all the sporting action. For the athletes, officials and volunteers alike, it was a bittersweet farewell, filled with fond memories and friendship.
Ronel Estanislao and Arolas Amahit Jr from Philippines were full of praise for the host country. “We love the whole thing, we love Singapore!” cheered the badminton athlete and official. They had also made friends from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand during the Games, and were having a blast dancing at the after party.
Indonesian water polo player Beby Willy Eka Paksi Tarigan also commended Singapore for its hospitality. “It’s a very beautiful city,” he exalted. The 24-year old also revealed that one of the social highlights for him was meeting nine-time gold medallist Joseph Schooling.
João Baptista Da Silva Ribeiro will count the 28th SEA Games as an invaluable memory. “It’s a fresh experience for me and I met a lot of friends here, especially Singaporeans. They are really kind and I love Singapore,” the Timor Leste basketballer gushed.
However, it was apparent that the real stars of the show were the Team Nila volunteers, whom the athletes and officials were all very much grateful to.
Singapore bowler Jazreel Tan (centre) with Team Nila volunteers at the after party of the Closing Ceremony. Photo: SINGSOC
When asked what she liked best about the Games, Malaysian water polo representative Shirleen Khoo appreciated that “the volunteers are very friendly, [and easy] to approach, and whenever we have questions, they will lead us [along].”
The volunteers themselves were ecstatic to have had the opportunity to contribute to the Games. Their enthusiasm and dedication shone through even when their duties were over.
“It’s all about the passion to serve with our hearts because it’s SG50 this year - that’s why we want[ed] to get involved with the SEA Games,” events services marshal Cham Kah Yoke enthused.
For others, the Games was a window to the world surrounding Singapore. “When we see the athletes, there’s a short walk from where we [meet] them to the [transport] car, so along the way we get to understand what are they doing [and] what are they here for,” explained volunteer Cecilia Lai, who was an airport protocol officer.
“For me, it [was] more about the volunteering,” her fellow protocol officer Shirlyn Lim chipped in. “Initially we meet as strangers but after working together, at the end of the day you become friends so that, for me, is the most memorable.”
Indeed, amidst the exuberance of the after-party, athletes from all the participating nations mingled freely alongside the volunteers, busying themselves with snapshots together or merrily dancing along to the music of DJ Ferry Corsten.
DJ Ferry Corsten standing above celebratory scenes at the farewell party post Closing Ceremony. Photo: SINGSOC
Despite the competitive nature of sports, there was a definite sense in the air that the 28th SEA Games was all about camaraderie and friendship.
“It [was] great catching up with old friends,” Singaporean bowler Jazreel Tan reflected. “But it [was] very nice to see new friends, different people from different countries. It was fantastic.”
From the scenes of celebration on the field, it was unmistakeable that all links, forged or renewed, will last in the hearts and memories of the participants of the 28th SEA Games. Here’s to everyone meeting again in 2017!