19 August 2008

The Kallang Roar Movie

Don't be fooled by the less than polished marketing, Kallang Roar is a great movie.

Once upon a time in Singapore, football was a passion that united the people. People would congregate at a common TV set or make the pilgrimage to the Kallang Stadium as the Lions take on the Malaysian state teams. Entire blocks would erupt with shouts of jubilation whenever Singapore scored a goal. It was the healthy Singapore-Malaysia rivalry that united the people on this little red dot. It was the golden era of Singapore football.

The Kallang Roar Movie recounts the struggles of "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee, the legendary coach behind Singapore's first Malaysia Cup trophy since 1965. Having made champions of rival countries' teams, "Uncle" Choo returns home in a bid to lift the Malaysia Cup and reignite the people's passion in football after a 12 year losing streak. However, he was flatly denied the chance. Undeterred, he sought to train and groom his own team for Singapore in defiance. It would be a decade later when he finally assumes the position of national coach to lift the prized trophy.

In his first full-length feature film, independent filmmaker Cheng Ding An successfully captured the passion and emotions on and off the pitch. Scenes from the matches were carefully choreographed to replicate the actual footage for authenticity. Even the cast picked for this movie bear very close resemblance to the actual football legends themselves. Best of all was the infectious and electric atmosphere of excitement and euphoria at the stadium will literally have you cheering for the Lions as they played and won the game despite rough playing opponents and biased refereeing.

Beyond the games, it was a glimpse into the ordinary individuals who would become the local heroes and legends that thrilled millions with their feet. Some struggled between living out their passion for the game and fulfilling responsibilities as sons, husbands and fathers. Others tread on love and addictions. Even boardroom politics played a part in moulding Singapore football.

Above all, Kallang Roar is a story of grit, courage and humanity behind our nation's triumph in 1977. It was about how one man's undying patriotism and passion in the beautiful game that captivated and inspired the country. More importantly, it was a life lesson that success is not without patience and sacrifice.

This is probably the best movie about local football ever made and a worthy tribute to Singapore's first sporting heroes.

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