Led by the 10 Super Babes, hoisting an S.League banner aloft, with Geylang International players the most prominent of the local teams at the front, all of the other clubs eventually found their way to the finish, getting in some good exercise, as well as supporting a worthy cause.
The Orange Ribbon event was launched by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, who spoke about the aims of the One People.sg cause, acknowledging the Chairman of OnePeople, Mr Zainudin Nordin, who is also the President of the Football Association of Singapore.
“The racial and religious harmony that we enjoy today is something that all of us have worked hard to achieve,” said Mr Wong.
“It bears repeating that harmony is not necessarily the natural state of things – history is peppered with lessons of ethnic conflict all over the world,” he continued as he addressed a large group of participants, said to number around 5,000.
Among those were players from all of the S.League clubs. Geylang International had gathered before most of the other teams and made sure they got to the finish line before their rivals, headed only by the 10 Super Babes who set a steady pace.
Perhaps they won’t finish first this season, but this was a sign that they definitely want to be ahead of the pack.
Of those who took part, in what was a truly multi-cultural event, as befits the Mission of the OnePeople cause, The Eagles’ French-Serb striker Stefan Milojevic used the opportunity to take his first steps towards full fitness by participating in the walk.
“I’m starting training on Monday,” he explained, having been side-lined due to injury for some months.
“I’m hoping to play Prime League next weekend and return to the S.League side when we play (Brunei) DPMM (on July 19)."
Also making a stand for the anti-racism cause were 10 young players from the clubs who recited the pledge before the runners or walkers set off.
S.League CEO, Lim Chin, said that this was a symbolic moment: “The pledge is appropriate on this occasion as it refers to our standing together, regardless of race, language or religion."
Among those walking was the ‘grand old man’ of the S.League, Aleksandar Duric, who was seen carrying his youngest son, with his two other older children and wife Natasha there as a family group to show their support for the event.
All of the Tampines players and coach Tay Peng Kee were just some of those who mingled with players both local and overseas-born from other clubs in a great show of unity and bonding among the Great Eastern-YEO’S S. League outfits.
The most successful club of the S.League, the Warriors, were out in full force, with new coach Alex Weaver one of the first to get back.
“It was good exercise for all of us to go around the bay,” he said.
“I must say that since I’ve been in Singapore I’ve not encountered any racism at all, so I was surprised to see an event like this organised here, but I agree that we cannot be complacent, so it is certainly a good idea and it’s been very well-supported today."
As preparations for the National Day Parade were also being held right near the end of the walk, Lim Chin observed that this really topped things off for those in attendance.
“This was a very successful event for us and for football in Singapore; we even had a fly-past!” he quipped.