Hockey: S. Balasingam Dearly Missed and Forever Remembered

S. Balasingam had on the pitch skills that many were aware of.

But there was a hidden secret about the man – he was a great cook and those who were fortunate to taste his mutton, crab and chicken curry will attest to that fact.

Quiet, unassuming, strict, disciplinarian , friendly, committed, astute and hardworking – this were words often used by many in describing Bala who passed away on Saturday night.

Nicknamed “ Benjamin Bambow” by his national team mates, Bala was adored by all of them as he could make friends easily despite a stern outlook.

His funeral was held this morning in Puchong ( Sunday) and due to the Movement Control Order , most of his friends, team mates, admirers and fans could not pay their last respects.

He made his debut in the 1968 Pre Olympic Qualifier in Lahore and went on to represent the nation at the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games.

Bala decided to take a break in 1973 after the World Cup and missed the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran as he took up coaching the Selangor Razak Cup Squad.

He was coaxed into returning to don national colours though for the 75 World Cup.

A two time Olympian ( 1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal) as well as two time World Cupper ( 1973 Amsterdam, 1975 Kuala Lumpur) Bala was a member of the national team that finished fourth in the 1975 World Cup, Malaysia’s best ever finish until today in a world level tournament in Hockey.

He retired from the national team, following the dismal outing at Montreal, as did many players at that time, though some returned for the 78 World Cup in Argentina.

But Bala was akin to the Rock of Gibraltar on the left side of the team. Players like Rasheed ( Pakistan) Ties Kruize ( Holland) and BP Gobinda ( India) had a tough time trying to get past him.

As did most Hockey players in the 70’s, Bala too joined the Royal Malaysian Police but moved on to work for the Rubber Research Institute until his retirement before venturing into a fertiliser business with his better half.

Bala will be missed by many, some who knew him well, others who claim to know him via their tributes.

But he could not be given a send off he truly deserved.

And I can only pray that once this Covid 19 pandemic is over, the family will consent to holding a memorial for Bala.

Goodbye to a true legend, a person who gave his best for the Jalur Gemilang but was never aptly rewarded for his blood sweat and tears

Tributes from Friends, Officials and Team Mates

“ An outstanding left half that was a difficult man to beat. He was determined and disciplined and from a coach’s perspective having a player like Bala was god sent. He kept to himself, but states his views frankly and that was what we considered as honesty , coming from his heart.”

C. Paramalingam

Former Selangor and National Coach.

“ Uncle Bala as we all call him, was a very strict disciplinarian but had a good sense of humor and great culinary skills. His mutton, chicken and crab curries are to die for.

“ To me he was very old school with principals and always reminded me of my late father. I salute his tenacity who never gave in to any nonsense and lived by his principals until death. May he find eternal peace at the other side.”

K. Maheswari

Former National Women Hockey Captain, Former Vice President MHC, Former KLHA Vice President

“ Disciplined and dedicated are the two best words to describe Bala. When I joined the national team in 1973, Bala was like an elder brother, often encouraging and urging me on. As an individual he was very honest, spoke from his heart, never one to bite his tongue. And this gained him a lot more f respect, be it in the field, off it and in the business world. A true friend to those who knew him up close and personal. I will dearly miss him.”

Dato Ow Soon Kooi

Former National Hockey Team Captain and Former Penang HA President and MHC Vice President

“ I was with him at the hospital when he was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2009 and had to undergo a surgery. He was devastated but gave it a good fight but eventually lost the battle. We will always cherish the great times we had together.”

K. Balasingam

Fellow team mate of the 1975 World Cup.

“ S Bala……. Not only was he a good sportsman he was also a very strict and prudent administrator….. A long time treasurer of Pasukan Hoki Veteran Sultan Ahmad Shah from the year 1997 onwards. This contributed to the association having a healthy balance of funds. No nonsense when it came to using public funds. A very fine gentleman n always cared for our young children.”

Terence Rajasingham

Fellow Player at Royal Selangor Club

“ It is indeed very sad and Bala was a close brother/friend to me. Both he and M. Mahendran took care of me during my playing days with them.”

R. Ramakrishnan

Fellow Team Mate

1975 World Cup

“ Bala was the only national player that was a room mate of mine in one international tournament. A gentleman, an outstanding individual who was a perfect role model to any aspiring Hockey player due to his strong discipline and principles.”

Dato G. Vijinathan

Former Secretary Malaysian Hockey Federation

“ We never played on the same team but on opposite sides, truly an outstanding midfielder and a class of a player. Very committed to the game once the whistle blows but at the end of the match, a friend everyone would want to be with.”

Ahmad Sayuti

President

Perak Hockey Association

“ We both made our debuts together in 1968 and ironically both decided to leave the national team at the same time after Montreal 1976. He was a fantastic individual, truly humble and a dear brother to me. We will all miss him and pray that he be placed amongst the angels in Gods garden.”

M. Mahendran

Fellow 1975 World Cup Squad.