Mexico has its Wave, Scotland has The Bouncy and Poland has The Poznan. Well too Singapore has her very own Kallang Roar!
But wait a minute, exactly what are the Mexican Wave, The Bouncy and The Poznan?
The Mexican Wave or more commonly known as The Wave is something that we might be familiar with, as it has penetrated the lives of many sports fans due to its popularity and visibility at major sporting events. In fact, you may have even been part of it before (intentionally or otherwise) if you have ever been part of an audience at a stadium or massive arena. What happens is the entire crowd stands up in successive unison and bellow at the top of their lungs with their arms up in a maniacal fashion, and the resulting effect when seen from afar (or the other end of the stadium) is a human wave effect…hence the name!
The Bouncy (love the name) is also another sports celebration fever that is iconic in Scotland, Australia and Northern Ireland. What the audience does is to continuously jump up and down on the spot while chanting the word BOUNCY. Imagine what a thunderous effect the crowd will create from doing The Bouncy…and the cool thing about The Bouncy is that it will have almost the same effect regardless where it is performed in or out of a stadium!
A close cousin to The Bouncy is The Poznan, origins linked to Poland but popularity spread across Europe including England and Scotland. This sporting celebration is distinguished by the crowd standing side-by-side with shoulders linked and their backs to the pitch, jumping on the spot in unison! It is very similar to The Bouncy…other than the fact that the audiences do not scream BOUNCY! BOUNCY! BOUNCY! while doing The Poznan.
This brings me to the Kallang Roar, Singapore’s very own sporting celebration. If you are born after 1990, or if your I/C number starts with ‘T’, you might perhaps not be familiar with the Kallang Roar. Ask anyone who has experienced it before and it will no doubt bring back a great sense of nostalgia and of a nation’s togetherness!
The Kallang Roar derived its name from the location of our former National Stadium which opened in Kallang in July 1973. It was a massive and grand structure, and the National Stadium was home to Singapore National Football Team, The Lions, as well as a ground for many epic events and occasions, including more than a dozen National Day Parades, a handful of Southeast Asian Games, and even concerts of World Class acts such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey! At each of these glorious affairs, the National Stadium witnessed every reverberation and resonance of the Kallang Roar. When the whole Singapore (or at least 55,000 of them) gets up in the stadium, and shout and cheer their hearts out (while stamping their feet at their seats and thumping their chests with their fists) in unison, there is little support elsewhere that can rival the Kallang Roar. It is no exaggeration to say that the Kallang Roar of Singapore is akin to The Kop of Liverpool belting out their famous “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in support of their team.
The Lions of the 1980s and 1990s have been privileged to be on the receiving end of the Kallang Roar, and it is safe to say that the intense competition witnessed at the Malaysian Cup brought out the loudest and most boisterous Kallang Roar, especially during our title-winning runs in 1977, 1980 and 1994. Till this date, my dad always likes to share a particular nostalgic story about bringing me to the National Stadium as a toddler to catch the Malaysian Cup games, and he never fails to proudly declare that I was part of the symbolic Kallang Roar. How so? Well, every time Fandi Ahmad or Abbas Saad scored for Singapore, he would throw me up in the air, roar alongside all the other Lions fans, and when the celebrations died down, catch me. This might explain why I later on developed a fear of heights. It was during this time also that the Kallang Roar incorporated the Wave as part of the ardent celebrations, so much so that (FUN FACT ALERT) Wikipedia, which is never inaccurate, has an entry about the Kallang Wave http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_(audience)#Singapore! The Kallang Roar itself has been such an immense phenomenon that there was even a movie made about it that was released in 2008! Here is a film still from the movie.
The Kallang Roar became more of a whimper in later years, due to different factors. When the Singapore Lions left the Malaysian Cup, it created a huge void in terms of a lack of fortnightly affairs that could fill the stadium to the brim, as well as a common cause that Singapore would yell, scream, shout and literally pull their hair out for. Over the years, besides the Lions, other notable personalities that brought out the Kallang Roar in all its zeal were the above-mentioned Michael Jackson and Elton John, who are amongst the few celebrities that could command sell-out crowds in the National Stadium, and also famous Football Clubs on their Summer Tour to Asia in very recent years, such as Liverpool Football Club and Newcastle Football Club, who either played the Lions or a S-League Selection. It was somewhat ironic to me as I watched on however, that when these teams came they brought back the crowd and the Kallang Roar, but the celebrations were directed at Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and company, instead of the Lions who were playing against them. It is certainly not difficult to believe that Singapore is one of the most European Football-mad nation! All is not lost, however, because I recall very clearly, with tingling goosebumps, that the loudest and most impassioned Kallang Roar in the last 20 years came when our former National striker Indra Sahdan Daud put a goal past Manchester United. The noise that followed that goal was deafening, imagine a Singaporean scoring against Manchester United! Yours truly was present at that moment, a very special moment that continues to give me hope of a return of the Kallang Roar, and more importantly what it represents – a united Singapore giving strength and motivation to our fellow Singaporeans.
The National Stadium is long gone. It was announced closed in 2007, and finally levelled by 2011. In its place, the new Singapore Sports Hub is being erected at a shocking pace, and scheduled for completion in the next few months. As part of its opening ceremony, football games with our Lions (or maybe the LionsXII or S-League Selection team) VERSUS Malaysia and Juventus have been scheduled to kick-off the new history of this stadium, and I am optimistic, and hopeful of, the return of the Kallang Roar. It will definitely be an opportune moment, just in time for SEA Games 2015 that will be hosted in Singapore with the Sports Hub taking centrestage.