“We go into the game knowing that our boys will have to do their best.”
Prior to the big game on 10th May, the excitement leading up to it was one shared by every Victorian. The last crucial game our soccer boys played against ACJC saw us defeating them 5–4 on the penalties. According to Mr Tan, it was the first penalty shootout our soccer boys has ever won in the history of VJ! Once again, as it was aptly put into perspective by Mr Seet in his email, the boys soccer finals for VJ was definitely “a second chance for us to get a bite of the cherry”.
On Tuesday, at 5pm, the finals were set to take place at Jalan Besar or Big Road Stadium, the second biggest capacity stadium after the Sports Hub. A venue especially fitting for our boys having their finals up against the defending champions, MJC.
At about 4.30pm, a number of Victorians had already begun streaming into Jalan Besar stadium, even though the 3rd and 4th placing match between ACJC and RI (JC) was still taking place. As the match drew to a close, loud cheers from the respective schools further roused the crowd. Clad in their signature red t-shirts and white gloves, the SC members began locating themselves among the sea of students. Victorians armed with the clappers were all ready to cheer for our very own soccer boys, who took to the field for their warm-up almost immediately after the end of the match. In fact, the event had even drawn the attention of some tourists staying at nearby hotels! We spoke to guests from Taiwan and Germany, all of whom had interestingly been attracted to the VJ side of the stadium. Our infectious spirit, perhaps?
(The singing of the school anthems)
With adrenaline surely coursing through their veins, our boys began lining up in the tunnel as the officials did a final check on the player’s equipments. Following that came the march-in of flag bearers from the respective teams, as well as the team march-in led by the Match officials. As Victorians were treated to a melodic version of MJ’s school song, we began huddling together from shoulder to shoulder, eager to raise our voices to sing the college anthem. After a stirring display of school spirit, the loud blow of the whistle signalled the kick-off of the finals.
Kicking off, MJC nearly went on the attack and in less than a minute, MJ made their first shot on the target, proving early in the game that they were definitely not an easy team to handle. Michael Sheng-En Collins (#7) won the ball back before MJ could go on the attack, which helped us to earn a free-kick. The match then continued in a similar fashion, as both teams displayed a very even game, changing hands with the ball numerous times.
Half-screaming in exhilaration, Rebecca Ammani (16A13) remarked “I’m literally on the edge of my seat!” as we watched the thrilling game progress.Within 30 minutes of the game, MJ scored their first goal. Though VJ supporters were slightly disheartened, our boys continued to fight on fearlessly, undeterred by the early goal.
At 5.50pm, we went into halftime with a score of 0–1 in MJ’s favour.
(The VJ team huddling during the game)
15 minutes later, the 2nd half of the final match resumed and the game picked up pace instantaneously as our boys raced against time to overcome the goal deficit. Oddly enough, over at the spectator’s stand, MJ seemed to have the exact same cheers as VJ. But even so, having the same cheers did not stop either schools from showing our fervent support for our soccer players.
There were several moments in the game where we almost had our hearts in our throats. Most of them were during really intense parts of the play when both sides nearly scored against each other. This was especially so when MJ seemingly scored a second goal during the 2nd half of the game. However, everyone was quick to point out that it was an “offside” and the crowd collectively settled in relief. The score thus went back to 0–1. Other moments were when our players suffered casualties. For example, many felt the massive blow when Dashmesh Singh Bajaj (#16) picked up an injury during the 1st half of the game. Luckily, he was back on the pitch in less than a minute. Others like, Desmond Chia Bing Yan (#18) were less fortunate and almost needed a stretcher as paramedics rushed over to his attention when he suffered from a severe blow to the head. Regardless, our boys still displayed steely determination no matter the circumstances as they persevered on with the game.
(Jonas, VJ’s goalie, taking a goal kick)
Towards the end, additional time was given to make up for lost time due to the substitution of players, stoppage of play because of serious injuries and transportation of injured players off the field. Victorians all stood up in unison as we cheered our soccer boys on into the final minutes of the game. Though many were sceptical that VJ would be able to overcome the goal deficit as the other team persistently stalled for time at every opportunity given, many still remained equally hopeful that the boys could do it because of the spectacular game they had put up thus far.
(The boys lining up to sing the school anthem after the game)
Unfortunately, at about 6.45 pm, the final blow of the whistle came and it signalled the end of the game. The resounding sense of defeat struck deep within the chords of every Victorian. Even from the spectators’ stand, it was hard to watch as some of the boys dejectedly walked back to the stand, while others laid down on the field in exhaustion or approached their teammates in a flood of tears. They were visibly let down. Nonetheless, Victorians still sang the college anthem with the boys with great pride and honour.
When asked about the game, Mr Seet replied, “It was divided by 1 goal but we were equal to the task, we didn’t give up, and even hit the post 2 times”, adding a good cheer for our soccer boys. Meanwhile we also spoke to Mr Tan, the teacher-in-charge of the soccer team, who commented that “The boys did their best, they played their hearts out, and that’s all that matters. Also, thank you very much to all the students who came down to support the boys.” Although emotional, the boys have indeed done the school proud with their spirited performance and for coming so far as a team.
The day was also quite an emotional and poignant one for the 32nd Students’ Council, as it was their last ever match support. Roy Tan, the 32nd Head of Welfare whom we spoke to, felt somewhat “emotional”, but feels that they tried their best and “I’m pretty sure the soccer boys did their best too!”
After the much anticipated match for Victorians, the game still continued to create much buzz amongst the student population. From the avid soccer fans, some commented that “MJC played in a style similar to Leicester City; steal the ball back and play on the counter”. On the other hand, there were those who were still hung up on the game and felt strongly that the game could have been played more fairly. Perhaps it is in the nature of competitive sports that the idea fair play becomes such an elusive concept to measure when we evaluate the outcome of a game. Yet at the same time, it is also easy to blame the way the game was conducted when we are on the losing end.
But more importantly, all is trivial unless we first ask ourselves; what comes after a defeat?
Maybe it is that nagging sense of “unfinished business” that leaves you frustrated after the final blow of the whistle. That lingering bitter aftertaste of defeat that reminds you to never let history repeat itself again, and of that hunger that wills people to want to become stronger and better. But most of all, the soccer boys can always rest assured that no matter the outcome, we will, as they say at morning assembly, continue to show them our support. Regardless of the final score, they’ve come a long way to get where they are; they really deserve the credit.
Congratulations to the soccer boys for the exceptional results and all the best to the remaining sports CCAs who are still having their competitions!
More information about the match can be found on https://www.redsports.sg/2016/05/10/national-a-div-football-mjc-vjc-2/.
Megan Chor 16S31
Paul Sim 16A13
Ng Xue Ying 16A13
Ryan Ch’ng 16S47
(Photo credits: Photosoc)