KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Singapore have a quiet rivalry going on in sports, but one teacher Noridayu Saat is making lots of noise – literally – to show that political boundaries will not stop her. The 42-year-old Noridayu from Bukit Panjang, Singapore, has been Malaysia’s badminton diehard fan since she was 10. That’s more than three decades.
She has watched every Thomas Cup Finals that Malaysia have taken part in since 1988; has crossed the Causeway and turned up at every stadium where the Malaysian Open has been held since 1999 except for the two occasions when it was hosted in Kuching, Sarawak.
In the early days when there was no live scoring, WhatsApp, Twitter and etc, Noridayu would call up the Malaysian media organisations – just to find out how the players had fared in tournaments from South Korea or China or Japan – an at any time of the day or night.She has seen the men’s singles title baton being passed from Misbun Sidek to Rashid Sidek to Ong Ewe Hock to Wong Choong Hann to Lee Chong Wei and now, Lee Zii Jia.
And till today, she continues to show her undying support for the Malaysian players – win or lose – in every tournament, junior or senior, local or international. She even encourages the team using her social media platform.
How did this childcare teacher from Singapore get hooked on Malaysian badminton?
“It was the 1988 Thomas Cup. I was 10 and watching it on television with my family. I fell in love with the Malaysian team, ” recalled Noridayu.
“The team showed true sportsmanship and determination to win the Cup. I was inspired by their commitment to succeed.”
In the 1998 Thomas Cup, Malaysia were indeed hailed for their fighting spirit as the team comprising Misbun, Foo Kok Keong, Rashid Sidek, Razif Sidek-Jalani Sidek and Cheah Soon Kit-Ong Beng Teong stunned favourites Indonesia 3-2 in the semi-finals before bowing out 1-4 to China in the final.
When the team of Rashid, Kok Keong, Kwan Yoke Meng, Razif-Jalani and Soon Kit-Soo Beng Kiang lifted the Cup in 1992, tears of joy flowed for Noridayu.
“I will never forget the 1992 Thomas Cup. The fightback to win the Cup was amazing, my voice was hoarse from supporting the team at home, ” she said.
Asked who her favourite player is, Noridayu’s reply was quick: “All Malaysian players from all the different eras. I don’t have a favourite.“I do not support others as I’m devoted to Malaysia. The only country for which I’ve travelled to watch badminton is Malaysia.”
Over the years, she has collected quite a bit of memorabilia.
“I have photos with players but the precious ones are their signatures. I have so many – even with players from the previous era, ” she beamed proudly.
She however, knows her limit as a fan. She does not stalk the badminton stars but admires and supports, adhering strictly to the player and fan’s professional relationship.And she sticks by her players during good times and bad.
“As a fan, the most memorable moment is to see the players you support win big but I can accept defeat too. It’s terrible to hear fans criticise after a player’s defeat, ” said Noridayu.
“The failure teaches the players to be stronger and to bounce back after every setback.
“In fact, I’ve learnt from the players. I’ve learnt to be resilient and confident whenever I’m faced with any kind of obstacles in life and just bounce back.
“So, I thank the Malaysian badminton team for giving me the opportunity to be their fan. I will continue to render my support to the team until my last breath, ” she added.
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