In the News ~ BUSINESS CLASS – The New Paper, 14 October 2006
14 October 2006
MARINE Sunday are a team of professionals, but not in the footballing sense of the word.
Rather, they are engineers, accountants, lecturers, teachers, businessmen and journalists who work their hearts out during the week before getting their weekly dose of three to four hours of football and camaraderie on the weekend.
And they will go to great lengths to make sure they get to the pitch on time.
Take Goh Yong Chua, 39, who went back to playing for Marine Sunday after his ligament operation.
Or Cheow Weng Khong, 39, who once had a friend bring his kit and soccer boots to the airport so he could proceed straight to the team’s match on his return from a business trip.
The same with Leong Weng Kwan, 37, who also came directly from the airport, complete with his luggage.
Or Shanghai-based Lau Kian Hwa, 39, who is always on the lookout for cheap airfares on the internet so he can make an inexpensive trip back to turn up for Marine Sunday.
He was back in Singapore during the first week of this month as it was China’s Golden Week, arriving on 30 Sep to play. Alas, the game was rained out.
Lau extended his leave for another week so he could play last Sunday and again this weekend.
Goh, who captains the team, said: ‘We even plan our holidays so we won’t miss too many matches.’
Lau, who is a project manager at a Singapore bank, added: ‘It’s the passion for the game.
‘We really love the game so much that our golf and our other pursuits have to take a backseat.’
Team members say the primary criterion for team membership is a player’s ability to manage his wife or girlfriend so they don’t disrupt his match appearances.
‘Only those with superb partner management capability will be considered,’ Lau said, laughing.
Just like Cheow, who couldn’t keep off the football pitch even on the morning after he registered his marriage.
In other words, these guys care deeply for the team, and they mean business.
They are a highly organised outfit, with matches planned well in advance, attendance determined, line-ups decided, logistics provided, match reports written and finances settled.
They even have a website, marinesunday.netfirms.com, which contains the archives of all the team’s match reports from 2004, plus fixtures and statistics.
Details such as venues and kick-off times are also provided on the website.
While the website isn’t flashy, it is effective, with up-to-date content.
And the team also mean business on the field.
The players arrive for matches on time, and have never been caught without sufficient substitutes.
‘We’re always the first team to take to the pitch with a complete line-up,’ said Cheow, a sales manager for a point-of-sale company.
‘It reflects the discipline, dedication and passion we put into the game,’ added polytechnic lecturer Simon Tan, 39, who looks after the team’s affairs off the field.
A relatively young recruit (he was inducted into the team in 2003), Tan has close to 100 per cent attendance this season.
Today, the team’s active roster of 22 reflects a veteran squad in terms of age, with eight aged 40 and above, another eight just a year short of 40, and the rest between 35 and 38 except for just two who are still below 30.
‘That explains the worn-and-torn knees and the width of the waistlines of the players,’ said Lau.
‘But we have more experience than most,’ added captain Goh, who works as a bank executive for a French bank.
Eight of the active 22 players, including Lau, came from the 1984-85 pioneer Victoria Junior College intake.
Two of the eight – captain Goh and Cheow – have known each other since their Victoria School days.
The rest of the group were recruited along the way – from Nanyang Technological University’s Hall 4, or from among the football community of NTU.
‘Weekly matches have become a part of our lives since, though the women still don’t understand why,’ Lau added.
How did the team get the name?
‘The need for a team name arose when we bought our first set of jerseys,’ Lau explained.
‘England has a Sheffield Wednesday, so there’s no harm calling ourselves Marine Sunday,’ said Lau.
‘Since we were playing every Sunday at Marine Vista, we thought we’d call ourselves (after) that.’
Team members agree that eventually, the team will have a renewal process due to other priorities, commitments and distractions in life, and, of course, injuries. Ageing limbs will eventually yield to time.
But they’d rather not address this now.
What’s the team’s playing philosophy?
‘We want results, so any goal is a goal, as long as it is a goal,’ said Goh.
Why don’t they play in a tournament?
‘We welcome friendly sparring but we are definitely not into taking part in any sort of so-called ‘friendly league tournaments’,’ Tan said.
Teams keen on sparring with Marine Sunday should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a match.
Or if you want to connect with them and see whether you have a future in their squad, contact them through the above channels.
But remember, only those with superb partner management capability will be considered.
And you must be willing to go out on a limb if you want to play.
MARINE Sunday’s on-field statistics in recent years are staggering: 44 games played in 2004, 46 in 2005, and 37 as of 8 Oct 2006.
In 2004, they won 28 matches, drew five and lost 11, while scoring 155 goals (3.5 goals a match!) and letting in 80.
Last year, they won 27, drew 12 and lost seven, while scoring 168 goals and letting in 76.
This year, with 12 more weeks of playing time left, they have won 22, drew seven and lost eight, while scoring 109 goals and conceding 51.