[ Malaysia. 1997]
Dollah Kassim passed away yesterday. He had had a heart-attack during a friendly between Singapore and Selangor Veterans last October, and spent the year and ten days in a coma. I read that he was the Gelek* King, a terrific dribbler, and was known for his cheerful smile and swagger on pitch.
He was one of Singapore’s star strikers in the 1970s, among names like Quah Kim Song and S Rajagopal, before later legends like Fandi Ahmad. I learnt he also balanced both football and a full-time job.
I don’t know football, but i do know it usually comes wrapped up in a lot of heart. As usual, comments fly fast, comparing (contrasting actually) Dollah Kassim to sporting heroes today, football then to now, honouring while deriding.
There is indeed a difference though- he was from a past generation of Singaporeans, living in a country just off its feet. There was no moneybed then in our kampung nation, but perhaps there was the Kallang Roar. And in the stadiums, Dollah Kassim was part of its live creation.
Brings a corollary: I look at the face of my mother slowly relegated to a past, and the worn face of my grandmother- in their ranks my aunts. How was it like? I do think they knew sights and sentiments very different from my own.
A video tribute by his son on his birthday. I just realised the news of his passing comes as the National Stadium is to be demolished.
*swing of the hips. Sort of like Elvis.
[ . 1977. Malaysia Cup, Singapore-Penang 3-2]