|By Khalis Rifhan
Amidst the fanfare leading up to the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final between Singapore and Philippines, a local supporters group, ‘Lions All The Way’ (LATW) had been rallying its members to raised funds for those affected by Typhoon Bopha.
The natural disaster struck the Southern Philippines island of Mindanao a week ago, with death tolls rising to more than 600 with about 800 people still missing. An estimated 400,000 more were displaced by the storm.
Football rivalry aside, LATW decided to be part of the rebuilding process in the affected areas and contribute in any means possible.
LATW committee member, Ali Haikal, told Goal.com Singapore: “LATW has travelled to other countries quite a bit, and we also have friends abroad too. What it has taught us is that beyond the tribal rivalries that are evoked and felt in the stadiums, we are all much the same people who want the same things as one other.”
“For all the rivalry we have over the 90 minutes, ultimately we all just want the best for our teams and our fellow men. So then it becomes natural to put ourselves in the shoes of our friends abroad, and easy to empathise with them and their plight.”
“Perhaps through this too we can send the message that perhaps football is more than a game. It is a community of people who beyond all else just share a common love for the game that every other person can identify with, regardless of nationality.”
Deeply touched by the gesture from the Singaporeans fans, Philippines left winger Emilio ‘Chieffy’ Caligdong said: “We are so happy regarding the gesture from the Singaporeans fans. It will be a big help for the victims and it’s nice to see them assisting doing their part for a fellow South East Asian neighbor.”
Elwin Loh represented LATW and presented the cheque of $2,000 to a Mercy Relief representative during the half-time interval for the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final at Jalan Besar Stadium.