By : Tian Kuo
25 July 2014
My parents were one of the first few to move in to Tampines in 1983, when some of the first blocks were completed. I was three years old then.
Most blocks had two lifts, with long common corridors. You could run along the corridor, and wave to your friends along the way. And there was even enough space to cycle (carefully).
My BMX and me. I would cycle from one end of the corridor to the other end, and the challenge was to “U-turn” without stopping.
These common corridors were also a good place for games. Bring a board game or a mat (for card games), and you could have hours of fun with your friends. One of my favourites was Risk. Alliances were formed and broken during such games, but the bonds with my friends only grew stronger from the camaraderie that developed.
I was also blessed to have a park on my doorstep. It had five playgrounds, one basketball court, and a great big field (yes, I guess I was a real lucky boy!). Playgrounds were my favourite when I was in lower primary school.
The view of the current park from my former flat. How many playgrounds can you see?
My mum would let me out at 5pm in those days, and I would sprint there like a mad man to join my friends to play “catching”. Playgrounds then were filled with sand… and the occasional red ants! I had my fair share of bites, but this never stopped me from going back. Boys will just be boys I guess.
Trying a skateboard when I was in Primary 3. Unfortunately, I was not able to master the skills :p
When I grew older (around 12 years old), I was also part of the Singapore football fever. Fandi Ahmad, Sundram, Steven Tan and company were everyone’s heroes. Every match was aired on television, and you could hear entire blocks erupting with excitement whenever Singapore scored a goal. It was the closest thing you could get to the Kallang Roar!
Bitten by the football bug, with my band of brothers, we started kicking a ball around at the park. Boys (and even girls) from around the neighbourhood would play together. Slippers were used as goalposts, footwear was unheard of, and blisters were common.
It was always interesting to play in a big group, as you met friends from all races and walks of life. I even played with a pair of brothers from Hong Kong! Till this day, some of these friends have remained my regular football “kakis”, and it is always good exercise for us to meet up and have a kick about.
Half-time team talk with my “captain” devising a formation
As I look back over the past three decades (wow!), it seems it was only yesterday that I was creating all these memories. I still live in the area, and I’d like to think of this small part of Tampines as my stomping ground. As I now prepare to start my own little family, I am already looking forward to the day when my little girl brings me along to her own stomping ground.
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