Two Tampines Rovers fans – wearing masks and adhering to social distancing rules – standing outside Bishan Stadium to support their football team in an away game against Balestier Khalsa that ended in a 2-2 draw on 12 November, 2020. In normal times, the fans would be inside the stadium with their drums, but the staunch supporters were watching the match through a small opening in the hedge as fans are not allowed into the stadium. Only essential match-day personnel are allowed to be present on site. The football competition, which has been suspended for almost seven months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, resumed on 17 October and was held behind closed doors. Barely able to see through the gaps in the hedges, the handful of supporters still head down to support their team, home and away, despite knowing the matches are closed to public, despite the fact that the matches are streamed live online and on TV, despite the pandemic, despite being asked to leave. I think the success of a sport is hugely related to its fans. For all we’ve read about how Singaporeans do not support local football, I was moved by this scene.
A graduate from Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Neo Xiaobin is a photojournalist with The Straits Times, an English-language daily in Singapore. Xiaobin currently manages Home in Focus, a weekly series of photography features produced by The Straits Times picture desk, which documents different facets of the quirky, compassionate and ever-changing in Singapore.