The uproar over the state of the pitch at the new National Stadium is commendable. In fact, it is welcomed. It shows that Singaporeans by and large still have the passion for excellence. We are proud of our achievements. Some people might think that it is petty to be proud about having the best airport, the best port, the best skyline, the cleanest and safest streets, the best education and health systems et cetera but we are still proud not only because of the excellent work that is done behind the scenes to achieve those accolades, but the fact that we strive to be the best and to give our best in whatever we do.
The grass pitch, or the lack of it in the expensively built new stadium is no exception. The stadium is supposed to be a state-of-the-art sporting wonder to rival the best arenas in the world. It is supposed to be another showcase of our determination to be the best. But what is a stadium without a grass pitch? And that is precisely the crux of Singaporeans’ fury. In a country that can produce not only a Grand Prix circuit in the middle of a busy city, but to do it at night(!), we cannot even grow a decent grass patch where the weather is all-year sunny and water is not an issue. And so we have a stadium with sandy pitch. And the embarrassment that it has caused to the nation (yes we are not even exaggerating) is hard to swallow. The latest salvo is the news that the All Blacks have cancelled their planned exhibition match in Singapore because of the dangerous field.
And what is more troubling is the almost nonchalant attitude of the people in-charge of the stadium. Their answer to the nation’s anger is the simple: `we need time for the grass to grow’. Really? After the drought in April this year, the grass all over Singapore was brown. But three days after a heavy downpour, the grass turned green again. And it took two years to build the stadium. During that time, surely they could have grown the grass somewhere else and turf it in when the stadium was completed. This is called forward planning.
So what’s the solution now? There are many solutions given by Singaporeans. One is to grow local cowgrass instead of the hybrid grass. Second is to grow the grass somewhere else and returf the stadium pitch every six months or so. And there are many more. Sadly the stadium management turned a deaf ear and we are now faced with cancellations of events of International prestige.
The fact of the matter is that, Singaporeans are passionate about excellence. It is this passion that has taken us from write-off of a country, to where we are now. It is about time that the Stadium management matches this passion stride for stride.