Once again, fans will pack Stadium Putra,Bukit Jalil to give support to our Team Malaysia competing in the ongoing Thomas and Uber Cup. This scene will be reminiscent of the glory days of 1992 when Malaysia won the coveted Thomas Cup in front of their fervent home fans in Stadium Negara. Those of us who were in Stadium Negara will never forget that historic event. We had never expected our ever versatile Foo Kok Keong to beat Alan Budi Kusuma in straight sets.
We all remember clearly during Manila SEA Games in 2005 when Malaysia came back from the dead to win the badminton Mens team event final. Malaysia was trailing when Mohd Hafiz Hashim was playing 2nd Singles. It was then that the Malaysian supporters, who were earlier caught in the notorious Manila jam, trooped into the stadium and started cheering for the team. Malaysia managed to turn the tables on Indonesia when Wong Choon Hann won the 3rd Singles and therefore the title for Malaysia.
A similar situation ensued when fans cheered on our Womens Basketball team to sweet victory in the Korat SEA Games 2007. Malaysia won the close match with arch rival Philippines by a solitary point. The entire stadium erupted in sheer euphoria when our girls won against the highly fancied Filipinos.
More recently, many fans will remember the historic occasion in Laos SEA Games 2009, when our Womens Badminton Team emerged victorious against defending champions Indonesia, a title that has eluded us for 34 years! The number of supporters on that eventful day may not be enough to fill the stadium, but it was sufficient to roar on the girls to memorable victory.
So this time, can Malaysia do the inevitable again?
Despite high ticket prices, I believe fans will not be deterred and the national spirit and fervour will be strong enough for us to pack Stadium Putra to provide vocal and moral support for our Thomas Cuppers and Uber Cuppers.
Certain players thrive on ‘noise’ and I recall Mohd Zakry, one of our players, urging the fans to make more noise and stimulate the already charged atmosphere. We hope Malaysians will arm themselves with banners, flags, kompangs and other cheer equipment to create the ‘noise’.
Fan Club phenomenon may be new to this South East Asian Region, but it has certainly arrived and will be with us more years to come. Many fans can attest to this, as sports tourism has become the key word of today, and Asian Governments are quick to jump onto this bandwagon. Sports fans can create the camaraderie and unite an entire country. For those with a knack for travel and social networking, this form of hobby and leisure will suit many.
Back to Thomas Cup. The passion and the love for the game will definitely spur to pack it in. The coordinated cheers will surely stir up the stadium and inspire our players to perform better. Instead of playing psychological warfare with China or Indonesia for that matter, we fans can direct the ‘energy’ to our players. By so doing, we create an ‘invincible aura’ whereby our players will not be rattled by nerve and the higher ranked and more fancied opponents. We shall be then using our home advantage to the fullest.
Rexy Mainaky, our Malaysian doubles coach, and a former Indonesian player who were in the losing 1992 side can testify to this. He said, ‘Indonesia lost the 1992 Thomas Cup not because they did not perform well but because they were silenced and stunned by the strong crowd support at that time.’
All the best to our Malaysian Team doing battle and may we regain the glory days of 1992!
Its War , fear not thy Enemy. Tigers, look them in the eyes and finish them off!