Years ago when I was in the Philippines, my friends there told me about this magical thing that happened in the Philippines. During this particular event, the normally crowded streets of Manila would be empty, restaurants and malls will be deserted and everybody will be in front of the TV.
This event was whenever a Manny Pacquiao fight was on. The entire Philippines stopped to watch. I envied how a nation was able to come together for a common cause and I wondered when Malaysia would have its turn.
Since then I notice we’ve had plenty of these and that is when Malaysia plays in the badminton finals of the Thomas Cup and the Olympics. During the Men’s Doubles finals this year I was at a friend’s birthday party at Neway. We ate, drank and sang but all that came to a stop when the match came on. We turned off the music and instead tuned into a live feed of the badminton match.
We weren’t the only ones too. Up and down the many rooms I noticed no more singing. Everyone had traded in their mics for a seat to watch Malaysia play.
I stopped to look around for a moment. Malaysia is a country of people that are different in so many ways be it race, income levels, religion, traditions and upbringing. Yet on this one event nobody cares about the race of our badminton players, what they pray to or their status in society. We don’t even care about what language they speak. All we care about is the flag they wear on their jerseys and we support them all the same.
Malaysians rich and poor, old and young, men and women from the cities to the kampungs unite to watch Malaysia play. In that one hour or so… we are one.
I’m thankful for that. We may not always have a lot of things going on for us as Malaysians, but we have badminton.
I pray that this tradition of badminton continues to grow and perhaps one day we will win our gold.
The way I see it… Malaysia has already won. With or without a gold medal in the Olympics.