Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sarawak Boys' Club and Basketball

Right next to the Sibu Recreation Club all those long ago days was the Sarawak Boys'Club, an institution probably set up by the Colonial Government to help disadvantaged boys to have a second chance in life. There were probably about ten of them. I rmemeber one of them was called Chin Tien. Whatever had happened to him, no one would really know. He would be sixty plus now.

Mr. Eu was the Master in charge. The boys went to school like everyone else. They were naughty.

I often wondered why this programme was not ever continued. Today, the valuable piece of land had been taken over by local businessmen. And Mr. Eu had been obliviated into the background. No one would know what happened to the boys. But it would be wonderful to know that they had been useful to the society.

The SBC building, however was useful for another purpose. It was a good venue for table tennis as it had a very big hall and basketball was played every day in a good court fronting the building with seats in several levels all around the court. Today the land has been used for the Sanyan Building. An important part of the social history of Sibu disappeared with the demolition of the SBC building which probably served the town for about 30 years.

I did not play any of these two games but I was quite a good cheerleader with all the other girls from my school whenever our school teams played.

After a while, I did not like to give support to table tennis because one of my seniors would always shut me up, as I could not stop talking and I get a headache looking left to right, right to left, following the ping pong.

Later when Nixon made a name with his ping pong diplomacy, I was not too thrilled.

After probably two years of supporting the game, and while most of the girls paired off with some of the boy players, I gave up watching the game altogether and stuck to my books and that coincided with my father's untimely demise. I thought if the players paired off and dreamed of getting married sooner or later,leaving their supposedly friends high and dry, I would not be in that kind of social world where only ping pong was talked about. How naive I was!!

But then,I spent quite a bit of time in the evenings, during the basketball season, cheering for the basketball teams of my school.The school at that time was not a big school and many of the girls adored their lady teachers. I was part of this group of girls who worshipped their teachers, especially, the American coach, Miss Fries. So together with a few other lady teachers my friends and I went too. I spent about two years watching and cheering for the games.

The good players then were Kong Kiong Ming, the Cheng Brothers, Tiong Su Ching (I believe he was called Mo Ngae - No Teeth) and a few others. They were the local heroes of that time and almost all the girls were in love with them. As I came from a family of many many girls, I did not know what it was like to have brothers who played basketball. The extremely good girls players were Wong Yuk Hee, King Eng, Siew Hua,and others.

There were other boys and girls who played well from the other schools in Sibu and made it to the Sarawak team. But I could only remember the boys and girls from my school.

Games were good training grounds for good character and leadership skills. Extra curricular activites were however not the most important aspect of our education at that time. To be able play good basketball at that time was probably accidental. A little bit of good coaching would bring a good team, but it would only last for the period that these boys and girls were in school, or the length of service of these coaches.

Whether in offensive or defensive the school team players did very well during my student days and they were a courageous lot indeed. They played to the best of their abilities, sweated out the whole hour or so and I felt that most of them were a terribly disciplined lot.

What I liked most was the big gong that sounded at the end of each game. That was when the winning team and their cheerleaders would jump for joy, and the losing team quietly walk away. In those days, losing was bad and coaches would not be too forgiving. But I was very proud of my school coaches like Miss Fries, Mr. Deng Wan Chiew and Mr. Ling How Kwong. With principals like Mr. Wilsthire and Mr. Lau later, our school teams and their coaches were kindly, magnanimous and very noble indeed.

Winning was not everything. Games and academic education were for the development of the whole person. And a school was not a factory which produced graduates with paper qualification.

For students and other adults then to have a basketball court with seating platforms like what SBC could provide was a great bonus. We had no airconditioning, no proper wooden flooring, not digital clock. Yet it was one of the best places that we had, and it was free!!

In a way, as Sibu grow with time,the present leaders should also look back at the small beginnings of the town and the wholesome albeit primitive infrastructure which provided so much invaluable training for the generation which has just become the grey generation.

5 memories:

FrancisN said...

I spent a lot of my after school time playing basketball and table tennis at SBC. I made a few friends with the boys who lived there. They were a bit rough but were generally good boys who had fallen into the wrong company.

I enjoyed watching the inter-school and inter-division basketball tournaments there. They used to be the highlights around Sibu.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Yes, those were the good days when everything was such pure fun. Our school always did well in basketball and ping pong because we had good coaches.

Discipline was good as most of the students were humble and obedient, without any of the modern hangups.
And we were so grateful for the little extra mural activities we were given.

Unknown said...

Talking about the Boys' Club and the Sibu Recreation Club, they reminded me of the King George Ground next to it. It was later renamed Padang Tuanku Bujang. Lots of sport and non-sport events were held there. Maybe Sarawakiana has something to write about the ground which is now part of the Wisma Sanyan

Unknown said...

During the early 70's,I always play Pingpong at SBC after school in the afternoon and sometimes learning how to do boxing by the side of SBC building.Enjoyed basketball competition watching from the roof at opposite SBC building.
The best is singing competition where we like to attend and hear out of tune singing during the first few early rounds.Anyway, it's good memory.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

thank you. I could hear the out of tune singing from my house in Brooke Drive, just a few metres away. So I never had to pay for the entry tickets. But I missed watching the finals and the prize giving.

Sibu did indeed produce a few good singers. I can still hear Chin Tien Pu Hui Chia, I am not going home to day....thanks for the memories too.



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