1975 World Cup hockey legend Bala dies at 72

KUALA LUMPUR: Hockey legend S. Balasingam, who played in two Olympics Games – in Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976 – and the great 1975 World Cup squad, has died of colon cancer. The Ipoh-born star was 72.

Sadly, none of his teammate from the class of 1968-1976 could attend his funeral and cremation yesterday, due to the movement control order over the Covid-19 pandemic.

S. Bala, as he was known, leaves behind wife Indra and son Kumar.

He was not only a member of the Malaysian team that finished fourth in the 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup, he also played in the Holland World Cup two years earlier.Datuk Seri N. Sri Shanmuganathan, who captained the legendary 1975 World Cup team, said Bala was a great player who always gave his best in matches.

“I am sad to have lost a good friend. He was a fearless player and we’re all going to miss him.

“I still remember when we went on a playing tour to Europe in early 1975 in preparation for the World Cup in KL that year. He fractured his hand in the match against England and was out of action for two months.

“But he never gave up and fought for his place in the national team to feature in the World Cup and helped Malaysia to finish fourth, ” said Shanmuganathan.

“It’s sad that none of the players, who played with Bala in the 70s, could attend his cremation (yesterday at the Puchong crematorium), ” said Shanmuganathan.

Forward Poon Fook Loke, another member of the 1975 World Cup, said Bala was a fantastic player on the pitch but he was quiet and kept to himself after training or matches.

“As a player, nobody was better than him at the left-half, ” said Fook Loke.

Balasingam was inducted into the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2004, along with his 1975 World Cup teammates.

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