‘Effigy’ is a 3 part series revolving around 3 Victorians across 3 sports. Each Victorian featured is a life-like caricature, symbolising and personifying all that is beautiful and ugly in sport. The second edition of this 3 part series features Keith Chua of 17S45, an experienced floorball player still trying to be held in the same breath as members of Victoria’s floorball “Golden Generation”.
Singapore — When asked why Victoria didn’t feature player names on team jerseys, Phoenix House Captain and Cricket player Somesh Sahu’s response was “That’s because we don’t play for ourselves. We’re playing for the school.” Somesh’s line was synonymous with the school sports culture, an emphasis on ‘We’ rather than ‘I’, championship wins over personal accolades. This was perhaps an anachronism in modern society, an age where individuality is prized in the form of unique identities and skill sets.
Keith Chua cut a rather abject figure on the sidelines as the B Division floorball finals passed him by. He could only watch as VS went on to win only their 2nd B Division floorball title. As he smiled for his team pictures and revelled in the glories of Victoria’s title winning campaign, there was no doubt a feeling of frustration within Keith. It was a familiar feeling for Keith, frustrated at being not good enough, especially since he was only a man amongst gods in this floorball ‘Golden Generation’. Nervous every time he took to the court, his sloppy passing and lack of tactical awareness didn’t help matters either. When you are on the fringes of the team, used sparingly and more often than not in the name of squad rotation, it would’ve been difficult to share the joy of your team’s triumph.
Above: Keith Chua (#80) watches the 2016 B Division floorball finals from the sidelines.
It would be crude to suggest the selfishness of Keith’s feelings. While we cannot question the meritocracy of Gary’s selections, Keith himself seemed resigned to his bit part role within the team. “Of course I was actually really sad. But in VS, I really couldn’t make it,” Keith said. His words cast a rather gloomy outlook both on his status as a floorballer but also his skills as one.
That is not to say Keith was a bad player, but merely a victim of circumstance. He made up for his tactical deficiencies and passing ability with his skill on the ball. A mazy dribbler with such close control that the ball was seemingly stuck to his stick, Keith’s play was pleasing to the eye. Last year, despite limited playing time, Keith recorded one assist, offering a glimpse of what quality was to come. Picking up the ball in the middle of the court and driving forward down the centre of the court, Keith bamboozled the keeper with an intelligent pass to his blind side for what was an easy tap in. The countless solo goals during friendlies also served to remind us the damage Keith could do when on song. The quality of his goals and assists leaves us scratching our heads as to why he didn’t warrant a more prominent role in the team. These were pieces of play that would’ve impressed even the most critical of armchair analysts.
These impressive performances faded away each time the season began. This season, Keith has yet to score. Having moved on from the periphery, Keith was now a key player in VJC’s floorballing setup. Seeing as how VJC remain unbeaten in their A Division campaign so far, there are suggestions that Keith was merely a luxury. In the hyperbolic world of sport, VJC’s recent success means the minutiae that is Keith’s disappointing returns have been swept under the rug. For now. There is a worry that his own disappointment towards his subpar performances thus far could transpire into a worrying personal obsession with scoring and stat padding. It is hard to think that a player so capable and skilled would have such strong reservations about his own ability. Maybe just maybe, that was the byproduct of being a good player in great sides.
Some people believe that being a small fish in a big pond is better than being a big fish in a small pond. Surrounding oneself with bigger talents can allow us to learn from the very best and elevate ourselves to the next level. However, playing beside a pantheon of greats such as Ryan Tham and Dun Xian has made Keith a shell of a player. Despite his best efforts, even hitting the gym in his own time to physically keep up with the best of the team, he never really found his place within the team.
Above: Keith’s name engraved in chalk on The Strength Yard’s Wall of Fame for hitting a 60kg squat for reps.
He was a supernumerary within his team, a luxury even. His flashy displays of dribbling slowed down the pace of his team’s gameplay and transitions, occasionally resulting in turnovers in possession. This was further magnified by the shortcomings and limitations of Keith’s game. It is ironic or fitting, depending on how you see it, that Keith was the owner of a Maltipoodle named Truffles. Maltipoodles, referred to as designer dogs, were a cross between the popular Poodle and Maltese breeds. As if to add further glitz to the glamour, that designer dog was named after the ‘diamond of the kitchen’. Keith strongly identifies with Truffles as well. Any visitor to Keith’s home would be greeted by a feisty Truffles, eagerly bounding up to you with his tongue hanging out, sniffing with anticipation. When asked what dog he would be, Keith replied “Something small and fast,” subtly hinting to us that his own dog might be a metaphor for his own style of play.
Above: Truffles the Maltipoodle
Even so, Keith’s prolonged swim in mediocrity leaves us scratching our heads. It is hard to attribute blame when you’re a victim of meritocracy. The conundrum with Keith is not dissimilar from the difficulties many top managers had encountered when dealing with the enigma that is Mario Balotelli. While Keith is not a person to set off fireworks in his toilet or throw darts at others, Keith’s potential is always the topic of conversation, now more than ever. Would his potential turn out to be merely a euphemism for mediocrity or were the glimpses we have been given a sign of things to come?
Ryan Low, 17S62