Singapore football icon Fandi Ahmad (right) lights the 28th SEA Games cauldron as son Irfan looks on. photo: Action Images via Reuters
It was perhaps one of the best kept secrets of a spectacular 28th SEA Games Opening Ceremony.
But as the curtain raiser to the biggest sporting event of Singapore’s Jubilee year approached its climax with the SEA Games Torch making its way around the Singapore National Stadium, few should be surprised that the honour of lighting the Games Cauldron would lie firmly on the shoulders of Singapore’s football icon Fandi Ahmad and son Irfan.
It was a symbolic moment that will be etched in the memories of many for generations to come, a fact that was not lost on Singapore’s sporting legend.
“It was a very emotional run for me. To be able to make this run and light the cauldron with Irfan,” said Fandi. “Hopefully I can pass the baton on to Irfan, and he can bring Singapore to greater glory in football.”
While he may have plied his footballing trade abroad for years, when asked how it felt to be given the chance to join his son in being the final torch bearer to light the Games cauldron, Fandi beamed with nationalistic pride.
“It is the greatest honour for me as an athlete, it is more than scoring a goal in any cup final. I thank Singapore, I thank SportSG and the SEA Games, the community and the fans. I love Singapore. This is my only chance, my last chance maybe.”
While a SEA Games football gold medal has remained elusive for Singapore to date, Fandi had some heartening words for the country's athletes at the coming Games. “I hope our athletes will rise to the occasion because it’s Singapore’s 50th anniversary, and hopefully this 50th anniversary will bring health and prosperity to all Singaporeans,” he ended with a smile.