berthahenson

How close to the core?

In News Reports, Society on February 12, 2013 at 2:49 am

Have you ever seen a picture of Fandi Ahmad’s five children? They are pictured in TNP today and they are so beautiful, a product of a cosmopolitan couple, a Singapore son and a South African model. Go buy TNP.
I think there will be more such good looking people in Singapore, with the rise of mixed marriages. I wonder how long though these children with one parent with a foot in another country will stay.

I say this because the two oldest boys, at just 13 and 15, are already calculating their chances about making it big on the soccer stage.

“We are born in Singapore and we will definitely consider playing for Singapore, but we will have to decide what is the best decision for us to move as far as we can in our football career.’’ Such heavy words from a 13 year old!

Their mother, Wendy Jacobs, was blunt: “How far can you go in football in Singapore? How far can you go in South Africa?
“And you must start and decide young, whether you want to try and succeed in Europe early because you can’t just got from a 25-year old playing in the S League to saying “I want to play for Barcelona’.’’
Ouch. Did the footballing authorities here read that?

As for doing their National Service, the boys declined comment. Very prudent. Yes, serving the stint would mean a break in their footballing development. Fandi did his NS, and chose to sacrifice playing for Ajax in Holland. But he expects the boys to make their choices.
I don’t know what I expected. That the sons of the Singapore son will say unreservedly that they will don the green uniform when the country calls on them to do their national duty? I think I somewhat expected that. I’m sure though that there are ways around this. Like serve NS later; ask for a deferment or whatever it is that men do to postpone the stint.

Then I read again and I find that they are not the typical Singaporean family. The parents are willing to let them stop school to further their footballing chances. Stop school? Wow! How many Singapore families would let their young ones do that to chase their dreams?

Ms Jacobs admitted that as a parent, it wasn’t a “good thing’’ to say, but school doesn’t have to be in a classroom and lessons can be conducted at any time, he argued.
Football, like childbearing I suppose, has a time limit. Past 40 and you’re past it most of the time.

I read further and find that the children don’t even list the typical Singapore fare as their favourite food. Only one child said chicken rice. The other four listed Western, mainly Italian dishes, as their faves. (Is broccoli stew Italian?)

More such families will appear – and maybe disappear – in future here. This is a global city, with arms open to new talent who can add to the Singapore core. They probably won’t talk like us, eat like us or even live like us. But Fandi’s children surely qualify as Singapore born and bred…

If we keep to too tight a definition of the Singapore core, we might be disappointed. Better a vague concept that embraces the vision and ambitions of our young people to further their dreams on the world stage. I say, go and make a name for yourself and your country.
But come back when this little red dot is in trouble okay? Or come back when you are strong enough to help others who are not as fortunate as you to grow (like building the S League into something more than what it is now).

Keep that red passport and pink IC. There are too few of us already.

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  1. As a husband of a Scandinavian and the father of 4 children, I am likewise considering a future abroad. Singapore is unforgiving to those who don’t fit the mould, and her transactional treatment of citizenship and identity turns many talents away – talents whose value cannot be hammered out on some spreadsheet.

  2. “Being a Singaporean is not a matter of ancestry. It is conviction and choice.” — S. Rajaratnam

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