Malacca: Fromer students and current Red Crescent and Ranger Unit members and Girls Guiders of two convents, Malaysia’s 1975 Hockey World Cup team and Team India which played at the recent Men’s Junior Asia Hockey Cup tournament at the Bukit Serendit Hockey Stadium churned up reunions and gatherings of sorts in Historic Malacca.
All in all, the memorable occasions recorded trips down memory lane, enhanced the spirit of camaraderieand created a bond of friendship and spread of goodwill apart from savouring a host of cherished moments
The series of ‘happy trails’ got off to a rousing start with the Bandar Hilir Convent of the Infant Jesus’ Class of 1979 organsing a ‘Birthday Bash of a Lifetime’ reunion dinner at the Renaissance Malacca Hotel. Themed “Don’t count the years, count the memories”, the night occasion witnessed around 100 from all over the Klang Valley, Malacca, Singapore as well as a handful from Australia, New Zealand and Canada in attendance.
According to organising committee spokesperson Dr. Irene Leong, the whole night affair generatedmany trips down memory lane and a whole lot of catching up as most all had not seen each other since leaving school. On the day following the dinner, the group called at their alma mater while making a tour on foot of both the primary and secondary convent premises before convening for lunch. The group also contributed generously to the school building fund and exchanged souvenirs with ranking members of the convent’s administrative and teaching staff.
Then, the Canossa Convent of Ujong Pasir came into the picture when hosting its 46th annual campfire with the school’s Red Crescent, Girl Guides and Ranger Unit members the principal organisers. Also invited to join in were relevant uniformed unit members from Gajah Berang Secondary, SMK Durian Daun, St. Francis Institution, SMK Sri Kota, Infant Jesus Convent, St. David’s High School, Malacca High School and SMK Bukit Baru.
According to Puan Khalidah Soo, the teacher in charge of the convent’s Ranger Unit, the whole campfire exercise was to enhance goodwill and cordiality with counterparts from the invited schools. Generally, the event spelt opportunities to learn to depend on each other, share ideas and to enjoy working together while undertaking joint mini projects and getting them done effectively, she noted.
In conjunction with Malacca hosting the Men’s Junior Asia Hockey Cup tournament, players of Malaysia’s 1975 Hockey World Cup side which qualified for the semifinals which till today is hailed as the country’s best ever showing on the international hockey stage met up for a dinner reunion. However, from the first eleven outfit, then managed by Lt. Col Abdul Manaf Ibrahim, only six members could make it with the rest who are either residing overseas or had prior commitments extending their apologies and good wishes.
Making the Malacca reunion date were Len Oliveiro, Wong Choon Hin, N. Sri Shanmuganathan, Abdul Manaf,Khairuddin Zainal, Poon Fook Loke and K.Balasingam, Among the absentees were A. Francis, Franco D’Cruz, Brian Sta Maria (all residing overseas), Mohd Azraai Mohd Zain, S.Balasingam, K.T. Rajan, Phang Poh Meng, R.Ramakrishnan, R.Pathmarajah, M.Mahendran and N.Palaniasamy.
Abdul Manaf vividly recalled the March 8 date when Malaysia defeated the then defending champions Holland 2-1 at the Kilat Club ground to qualify for the semifinals. He said that the win by the local boys was rated as the biggest upset of the tournament. Malaysia’s goals came through Fook Loke (19th minute) and captain Shanmuganathan with 56 second left on the clock after Ties Kruize netted the Dutch equaliser in the 63rd minute.
However, Malaysia fell 2-3 to India in the semifinals. The home side led twice in a pulsating encounter watched by 45,000 fans at the Merdeka Stadium. India eventually slotted their winner in extra time. In the other semifinal, Pakistan routed West Germany 5-1. In the final, India edged Pakistan 2-1 while the Germans took third placing with a 4-0 win over hosts Malaysia.
Finally, at the invitation of the Melaka Sikh Temple youth group, eleven Sikh members of the 25-strong Team India which finished third in the Asia Hockey Cup tournament made a courtesy call at the local temple along Jalan Temenggong for worship and prayer sessions while meeting up with local community members. The visitors headed by team manager Thoiba Singh Kshetrimayum and coach Baljeet Singh also graced a tea party organised by the temple women’s section and also exchanged souvenirs, signed autographs and chatted freely with local youths and hockey enthusiasts.
The Indian visitors were also impressed by the local communal harmony which encompasses myriad of cultures and religions, faiths and sects. The fact that the local Sikh Temple was in the midst of a Chinatown with a mosque, church and a few temples at close call spoke well for the visitors to take back home wonderful and charming memories of Historic Malacca City.