With racial bonding the goal, close to 200 footballers came together to participate in the Sixth “Racial Harmony” 4-A-Side Football Tournament on 22 February 2009. Organised by Young Sikh Association (Singapore), the event included, for the first time, two hearing impaired teams and five teams from the expatriate communities.

The Guest-of-Honour, Mr Teo Ser Luck, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports, joined players from different ethnic groups and professions in an exhibition match. He then officially started the full-day tournament.

Mr Teo stated that, “Such avenues are important to promote communal bonding. They are fun, informal and enjoyable. The government has taken the initiative to build sporting facilities all over Singapore so that people can come together, not just to exercise but also to meet and interact with others in the community. The Young Sikh Association’s event is unique in that it requires the teams to include players from different ethnic groups; not just from one particular group. This is a good idea. Other youth groups can follow the Association’s example.”

Mr Hernaikh Singh, the Association’s President, stated that, “Sports is a great social leveler – there are no racial, religious, language and social barriers. Everyone gets together to just have good fun. This is the sixth year of the event. We are seeing the fruits of our efforts. Many players have been playing for some years now and they know each other well. In addition, new teams and players join the fold each year and they become acquainted with the rest. It is a big footballing family.”

During the tournament, the players dished out some very exciting and entertaining football. At the end of a highly competitive tournament with more than 70 matches, Joga Bonito emerged champion in the ‘open’ category after a 2-0 win over X-Men in the final while Paris 23 won the ‘veteran’ category.

The annual tournament is aimed at bringing youth of different ethnic groups to come together to interact and network for greater rapport and camaraderie whilst promoting a healthy and sporting lifestyle among Singaporeans. It is also geared at creating a platform for the Sikh participants to better understand and appreciate members of the other ethnic communities as well as provide the opportunity for the latter to know the Sikh community in a more intimate manner.

This year’s tournament was supported by Trust Central, Central Singapore CDC, OnePeople.sg, Football Association of Singapore and National Youth Council, with a grant through its Youth Development Fund.

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