AFTER 36 years, 10 months and 22 days, members of the Tamilians’ Physical Cultural Association (TPCA) finally have a place they can call home again.
It was an emotional gathering for hundreds of TPCA members who turned up to witness the launch of the 105-year-old club’s new grounds at Jalan Taming Impian in Saujana Impian, Kajang, last weekend.
A broader view of the new grounds.
From its establishment in 1914, when founding members simply wanted a place where they could improve themselves mentally and physically while embracing the motto “Mens sana in corpora sana” (a sound mind in a sound body), to being one of the most important sports clubs in the country, TPCA has seen its fair share of ups and downs.
The original grounds situated along the present Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz (then Princess Road) and Jalan Dr Latif remains until today, although it is now one of the many sports complexes under the National Sports Council.
TPCA’s original grounds was reported to have been shaped by its members and volunteers in 1919 into a functional sporting venue and went on to become a key venue for major sporting events up until the opening of Stadium Merdeka in 1957.
Children christening the new TPCA football pitch during the soft launch of the new grounds at Jalan Taming Impian in Saujana Impian, Kajang. — Photos: C.Y. LEE, SHAARI CHE MAT and courtesy of TPCA
With its busy calendar all year round involving football, hockey, cricket, athletics, tennis and other sports, the club played a major part as a foundry for young athletes where ambitions were forged and skills honed.
Many national sports icons grew up with the club which served as their playground and later training arena.
They included Datuk M. Rajamani, Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan and Lieutenant-Commander (Ret) Karu Selvaratnam in athletics as well as national hockey icons Datuk G. Vijayananthan, Tan Sri P. Alagendra and Datuk R. Yogeswaran.
The original TPCA clubhouse was completed in 1958 at a cost of $85,000.
The original grounds which housed the only private stadium in the country then, also hosted a number of Malaya Cup and Men’s Hockey World Cup matches in 1975.
Malaysia’s top footballers such as the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Datuk Santokh Singh and Datuk M. Chandran all trained at the TPCA field.
It was also where TPCA’s own teams grew into a dominant force in the Selangor Football Association League in the 1930s and the Selangor Hockey Association Division One League in the 1960s
By then, TPCA had already established itself as a leading sports club not only for its on-field achievements but also in the general administration of the country’s sports bodies as its members served in various national sports associations as well as the Olympic Council of Malaysia.
The original TPCA grounds was also home to the first and only private stadium in the country.
In 1982, the club was informed by the government that it would have to relinquish control of the land given to them by the Sultan of Selangor in 1915.
Despite losing their building and facilities, the club stayed true to its purpose and continued its activities, especially with the development of grassroots sports through clinics and tournaments, in addition to participation in the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association and the Football Association of Selangor leagues.
With its storied past and the launch of its new grounds, it is as if the club has come full circle since the groundbreaking of its new premises in May 2017.
Today, the new 2.2ha property consists of two FIFA standard football fields, one hockey field, as well as a cricket pitch.
The TPCA Oval, being one of the few cricket grounds of international standards in the country, is the club’s crown jewel.
An undated photo from TPCA’s archive showing a hockey match being played at the original grounds in Kuala Lumpur.
It has also been selected as one of the venues for the ongoing Asian Cricket Council Under-19 Eastern Region 2019 Tournament.
Former TPCA president S. Perampalam, who has been a member for 64 years, said many had worked hard to realise the reopening of the TPCA and this achievement was a demonstration of its members heading in the right direction.
Perampalam, who was also honorary treasurer and honorary secretary of the Malaysian Hockey Federation, officiated at the soft launch with TPCA president Edwin Francis, deputy presidents Datuk G. Vijayananthan and K. Jayapala-singam as well as vice-presidents
S. Thavaranchitham and V. Thalayasingam.
Edwin, who was then a young boy who frequented the original club with his grandfather, described it as a place where good sporting rivalry and good friendships were built.
“While we have pitches of international standards, it is not all about the infrastructure; it is really about us being able to provide a playing field – the basic necessity for a child and a young athlete.
“In the past, we had many state and national players who came up through TPCA, simply because we had the provision of the club and that is really what we are trying to replicate.
“Like the Olympic flame in Greece which travels to each games, our own flame has been guarded and carried forward by the past members from our original grounds to this new one.”
And while TPCA may not have its clubhouse and facilities ready yet, it has already set in motion outdoor youth programmes for cricket, with hockey and football to come next.
Edwin said for far too long, the TPCA has had to do without a physical venue, and now chose to prioritise pitches and development programmes for its revival as part of the club’s philosophy of providing and supporting the culture of physical activities for all.
“We chose to put the fields first because we know from our history that giving young children the amenities and having a development programme are instrumental in growing their talents.
“Now that we have a place to call home again, we can give them the opportunity to thrive.
“This was the launchpad of what was and what will be,” Edwin said, adding that the grounds would continuously be developed in the coming years.
“Our pavillion will come up in the next few months and should be completed by next year.
“When we get more money, we will look at building a clubhouse that overlooks the pitches,” he added.
The TPCA will also include facilities and programmes for tennis, netball and badminton, as well as other indoor games.
The soft launch of the new grounds saw dozens of Malaysian sporting personalities, including hockey’s Datuk Poon Fook Loke, Vijayananthan and Datuk R. Yogeswaran as well as national cricketers Hector Durairatnam, Suresh Navaratnam and Rohan Selvaratnan, gather to witness the pivotal moment in the institution’s history.
As many recalled TPCA’s glory days, there were also social hockey and cricket matches organised as part of the celebrations.
With more than 500 current members, the news of TPCA getting back on its feet is set to see a boost in membership numbers through outreach and engagement.
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