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Film Review: ‘The Kallang Wave’3 min read

14 April 2007 3 min read


Film Review: ‘The Kallang Wave’3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Directed by Yanfeng Lee & Hanafi Ramdan
Produced by Zayed bin Abdul Aziz Talib & Mohamed Fairil bin Sugang
Running time: 75 minutes
To be released on 19 April 2007

In a nutshell
A documentary examining the evolution of soccer fandom in Singapore in the last twenty years or so.

The Kallang Wave 1The last Malaysia Cup match I watched at the National Stadium before leaving for university was Singapore versus Sabah. Singapore won 7-3 and I remember telling a friend that the third goal we conceded would probably come back to haunt us. It did — Singapore lost to Selangor on goal difference at the end of the season.

In 1994 when Singapore last won the Malaysia Cup, I was in Canada and wrote a newsletter article saying something along the lines of “it’s about damned time we won the thing” — and got an earful from the then-president of the club because we were technically a Singapore-Malaysian student club. As it turned out, that was also the last year Singapore took part in the competition. The S-League was formed within two years and people stopped watching football at the Stadium.

The Kallang Wave is a tribute to the footballers I grew up with. Somehow the producers managed to get in touch with and interview those footballers, who became household names over the years they were wearing the national colours. It’s also a tribute to the grand old lady of Singapore football, the National Stadium at Kallang, and a timely one too, before the bulldozers move in and destroy another piece of our history.

The Kallang Wave 3Behind the stunning visuals — and they are stunning — the filmmakers make it a point to turn the documentary into a commentary on modern Singapore society. Singaporeans on a whole are bred for success, nothing more. If something doesn’t work, quit, find something that does. There is none of the perseverance that comes from a society that’s willing to see through a commitment or a dream.

If a team doesn’t perform well, supporters start drifting away, leaving the 50,000-seater stadium near empty whenever a game is played there. I was recently told by a drinking buddy that the definition of a supporter is someone who’s in the stadium, supporting the team through whatever fortunes they may be enjoying or suffering. Otherwise, we’re merely fans, and fair-weather fans at that.

That is the film’s only weakness too. After a point, it became a game of blame. Team managers and directors blame the fans for deserting their team simply because they’re not playing well, fans blame players for not putting in the effort, former players Fandi Ahmad and Kadir Yahya blame players for not looking beyond the S-League. If the Malaysia Cup was a unifying factor, bringing Singaporeans of all walks of life together in the pursuit of a common dream, then it’s the new S-League football played that’s dividing us all.

The Kallang Wave 2

The Kallang Wave takes an activity that crosses just about every social boundary in Singapore and provides a snapshot of a society that’s not so young as to have no sense of history, but young enough still to be reluctant to take responsibility for what’s happening within it. Can we do anything about it, besides complain loudly and point fingers at each other? In life, as in this film, it remains to be seen.

The Kallang Wave opens nationwide on April 19, 2007. Watch the trailer here.


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