It no longer matters that Euro 2012 is hosted in Poland and Ukraine. Heartfelt moments of passion from fans need no longer be consigned to frozen images on television or the Internet.
Friday night, Goal.com Singapore had the opportunity to be part of StarHub’s Euro 2012 launch at Clarke Quay’s Central Fountain, and the experience turned out to be vividly larger than life. Quite literally.
For right above where streams of water used to jump from where the fountain stood sat table after table, all facing to where a giant – that means ten metres tall – TV screen hung suspended in the air. While probably not yet comparable to a full stadium experience, it was the closest thing there was to it.
Someone read the earlier part of this correspondence before it was published in all-likelihood, for no sooner than the previous statement was typed did someone invite throngs of native Polish fans to turn up, decked out in flags, jerseys and faces painted with the colours of their country as they cheered their compatriots on against the Greek national team, thousands of miles away.
“Football is all about bringing fans together,” StarHub Chief Operating Officer Mr. Tan Tong Hai affirmed.
“What Euro 2012 called for was something special. What was needed in Singapore was a world-class event that brought people out of their homes to cheer on their team together.
"The number of Poles who turned up today was incredible. They’re testimony to the uniting ability of football to bring people together so far away from their nations for a common cause.”
The ‘uniting factor of football’ could often be seen as a cliché, but such skepticism ought to be flung out the window after seeing the solidarity of the Polish fans, forming groups to cheer on their home country, which was given the honour of kicking off the first match of the European finals as a host nation, alongside Asian bystanders and onlookers like they were one of their own.
Could the warmth and proximity brought by the sport fail to become any more obvious when Russian fans, whose country’s game was to be shown in the following telecast, grouped together with their Eastern European neighbours to make their presence felt at Clarke Quay in cheering on the obvious favourites of the Group A match?
The game flowed back and forth in spectacular manner for an otherwise unspectacular final scoreline of Poland 1 – Greece 1.
End-to-end action, two red cards, a penalty awarded and a penalty saved is as exciting as it gets for a tournament opener, but the real excitement can be drawn from being immersed in the passion of the supporters turning up, who otherwise from being in Singapore would be turning up in a stadium in the Ukraine for this international phenomenon of a tournament.
Perhaps His Excellency Waldemar Dubaniowski, Poland ambassador to Singapore, said it best. “The fans come here because there is no better way to see each other other than through football. I spoke to many fans, and they were all so ecstatic to see so many of each other in Singapore.”
What was for sure was, they weren’t the only excited ones. It was a great privilege to be at an event of such proportions, which clearly goes a long way in bringing the football community of a nation expanding its sports infrastructure together.