More than 250 young football players were present on Saturday, as one of Singapore’s most iconic landmarks played host to the inaugural Nike ‘FC247 Own My Ground’ 5-a-side football tournament, an event celebrating the spirit of football anywhere, anytime 24/7.
The grounds of former Tajong Pagar Railway Station, which was out of bounds to the public, was made accessible to all the players.
Punggol SPC representative, Zailan, 18 said: “The surrounding is really unique. I would never have thought I would get the chance to play here; it’s a really special venue and experience playing here with my friends.”
The highlight of the day definitely had to be the appearance of Tampines Rovers and national team duo, Khairul Amri and Shaiful Esah. The pair made a special appearance as they then offered their expertise, coaching the two finalist teams, Bola Kampong and The Losers.
Whilst watching the tense penalty shootout in the semi-finals, Amri said, “That’s where it started for a lot of us, playing in the void decks, where we tried emulate our idols like Sundram [V. Sundramoorthy], Abbas [Saad] and Fandi [Ahmad].”
Esah, coaching Bola Kampong said: “You guys have nothing to lose, go out, have fun and keep believing.”
Bola Kampong emerged as champions for the tournament with Esah joining in the celebrations. Bola Kampong captain, Muhammad Syahfuddin must have had the added boost of having one of his favourite players making an appearance and coaching his team in the finals.
“Celebrating with Shaiful was great and really unexpected. He is one of my favourite players and it was amazing being able to celebrate with him,” said the 16-year-old.