SINGAPORE: Remembered for his love of football and dedication to the party, Manimaran Ashukumar’s legacy will continue as the Singapore Democratic Party named their futsal competition ‘Manimaran Cup’.

Open to all aged 18 to 40, this year’s tournament will take place on Jan 27 at Homeground Sports at Woodlands Industrial. Registration is $100 per team of eight and $20 for individual sign-up.

The late Manimaran, who tragically passed away after he collapsed during a social football match last July, was co-opted into the SDP’s central executive committee alongside Francis Yong and Alfred Tan following the 2022 Ordinary Party Conference. Manimaran was also tasked to lead the SDP futsal competition last year.

In a heartfelt Facebook post, the SDP said, “This tournament series also holds a special, bittersweet place in our hearts, as it is now named the Manimaran Cup in tribute to former CEC Member and youth leader Manimaran Ashukumar.

Mani was passionate about all things football and was committed to doing his best in service of making Singapore a better place. He passed away at the age of 33 in 2023, and will always be remembered fondly.”

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For SDP’s vice-chairman Bryan Lim, there will be two notable importance for this year’s SDP’s futsal competition. Apart from renaming it to Manimaran Cup in honour of their late party member, it also brings them closer to a constituency where they used to contest in the 2011 General Election.

“This year’s tournament is a special one for the Party as we have named it after our late Assistant Treasurer, Manimaran who had led the Young Democrats in organising this project before he passed on.

Mani was a regular player himself (& a very good one too) so we hope his passion for the game will spur many similar enthusiasts to come forward & play,” mentioned SDP’s vice-chairman Lim in a Facebook post.

“The venue for this year’s competition is also significant as it not only nestles in SDP Sembawang GRC but is proximate to SDP Marsiling – Yew Tee GRC as well.  Our Party had contested in the old Sembawang GRC in 2006 & 2011 so it’s sort of like a homecoming to our Homeground Sports SG,” added Lim.

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In the 2015 election, Marsiling and Woodgrove divisions were carved out from Sembawang GRC to form the newly-created Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

As the SDP shifted their attention to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, the National Solidarity Party contested in Sembawang GRC in the last two elections held in 2015 and 2020.

However, after the 2020 elections, the SDP has decided to engage again with the residents in Sembawang. As part of their efforts, they have created a Facebook page called ‘SDP Sembawang GRC’ highlighting their regular interactions with the residents.

Long-serving party members Jufri Salim, Matthew Tan, Naresh Subramaniam, and the late Manimaran have been actively involved in community engagements within the Sembawang constituency.

During SDP’s National Day walkabout last year, they went on a walkabout to various constituencies, including Kampung Admiralty, located in Sembawang GRC.

During a media doorstop, the party’s chairman, Prof Tambyah, reaffirmed their intention to contest in the constituency again at the upcoming General Election.

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Photo: Facebook screengrab / yoursdp

Organised in 2011 by the Young Democrats, SDP’s youth wing, the futsal competition was one of their outreach programs to engage Singaporean youth through a popular national sport. This initiative helped foster a stronger community spirit in the various constituencies where the SDP was active.

The SDP has previously welcomed members and teams from across the political spectrum, including opposition parties and civil society organisations, for their futsal competition. However, although they have previously invited the ruling People’s Action Party, their invitation remains unanswered.