By Laura Zhang
Wet, wet day. Still, the turnout was good – more than eight thousand football-mad fans and sponsors with their loved ones sat gazing and snacking, with the majority in red, matching the colour of one of the teams playing.
While the players worked up their adrenaline, audience translated the thrill or stress into an appetite of beer and fries that were easily obtained from eateries lining the stadium.
The players called themselves ‘old folks’ but it seemed that there is a harsh benchmark of age in sports arena – the ‘retirees’ looked pretty young.
A first glance could distinguish a body-size difference, with Singapore players more petite as compared to Arsenal and Liverpool players. And a second glance left one wonder a lack of Chinese men in Singapore Masters. I must be a racist.
The first twenty-minute had been a chic spell of Arsenal, with five breezy scores beating Singapore Masters – it wasn’t counted, however. At the second round of twenty-minute, Singapore Masters mustered up a draw with Arsenal: 1-1.
When it came to Liverpool to Singapore, the rules of the game gave a clearer indication since the start, especially at the second twenty-minute when Liverpool defeated Singapore by 5-0. With periodic catchy upbeats and humorous airing, the games felt like roller-coasters intertwisting with both intensity and tingle.
The last game was a battle of two English teams. Loyal buffs stood up with banners to cheer for their heroes, some chanted Liverpool tunes. Small conversations such as “obviously Liverpool” could be overheard among the audience. The ferocity built up after Arsenal scored within five minutes.
The game got increasingly aggressive, as an Arsenal member was seen bending down to touch the ball, and another Arsenal player pushing his opponent to a fall. Every tick-tock seemed to show no sign of progress – score stayed at Liverpool to Arsenal 2-1. At 39th minute, when the ‘obvious’ masters were about to surface, Arsenal balanced the game with a splendid kick just when everyone was ready for an end, 2-2.
But it did not matter. The outcome still went red, with Liverpool Masters spraying water towards one another giving loud hoorays, tossing sweaty red jerseys at the fans.
“It’s good to be here. We have stuck together over the years; we’re very, very close, and I think it shows on the pitch. We knew quickly where we all were, and we’ve still got that edge where we want to win – even when things aren’t going our way. It’s good to be over here, it always is, and it always will be,” shared Robbie Folwer from Liverpool Masters.
“It’s forgotten already. We were a bit frustrated by the results. Just an incident, nothing major,” said Mikael Silvestre from Arsenal Masters at post-match conference, when asked to share about the shoving incident.
As much as sports match is an alien experience, I very much liked the game for the spirits, opportunity for family bonding or dating, and a sense of involvement. Singaporeans’ heartfelt anticipation for Singapore team to score signifies patriotism is an element of sports. These starter-packs of life are evident when the players played to win – fighting is always in our blood.
Organised by Masters Football Asia, Battle of the Masters brought to you by American Express CapitaCard took place at the National Stadium on 11 November in three 40-minute round-robin games in one evening.
The teams featured were the Singapore Masters, Liverpool Masters and Arsenal Masters.