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For a patient public to play again will be a huge relief


Sentiman io
For a patient public to play again will be a...

Never has dusting been so joyous. Shoes are being cleaned and basketballs wiped. Old gym gloves pulled from a closet with a grin. The gutting of rackets tugged at like a violin’s strings. Practice swings taken with golf clubs in living rooms which might result in the death of the odd photo frame.

Text messages are flying across the island.

Friday? Play?

It’s not really a question to a friend but a declaration of freedom. The fields are open again.

Staying at home has been a necessary penance, but it has allowed us, among other things, to appreciate what play means to us. On the Internet I chanced upon a quote by Pablo Neruda (poets understand everything), who wrote: “A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who doesn’t play has lost forever the child who lived in him and who he will miss terribly.”

We missed that boy in us and that girl. We missed taking our children out and teaching them the little we know. We missed the shrieks of delight at a kid catching a ball and the groan of the golfer whose ball has set off in a direction he did not intend. We missed even the familiar ache of tiredness and the painful nag of a sore muscle.

To play, we remembered as we sat at home, is adventure, love and liberation. It is boasting about a rare forehand that sang and doing ungainly imitations of a Ronaldo stepover. It is feeling the burn of salty sweat in the eye as a serve arrives and the cleansing feel of water rinsing the face.

For the great swimmer Ang Peng Siong, 57, the pool has been a sanctum and for the first time since he was five years old, he has been away from it for so long. “It’s my natural instinct to be in water,” he says. “I have an affinity with it.” Land has been his prison.

Water soothes Ang’s painful back and this is a part of play we forget, how it heals people and nourishes the ailing. It allows us to vent frustration and channel challenge and let loose our vanity and unchain our creativity. A single, slippery, spinning drop shot can stay with us for a grinning week. There is no one there to applaud, just a memory to hold onto.

Inaction corrodes our skills and so swings and smashes will be awkward. Rust ruins rhythm but that’s fine for all amateurs require a working excuse. Some parts of a game return quickly, some require the devotion of time. Mostly we will have lost feel because the subtle messaging system from brain to hands which ensures delicacy has been on its own lockdown.

I am playing tennis on Sunday and anticipation is starting its slow, lovely flood. We’ll be nervous this weekend and infected by wonder: What have I lost? How have I changed? Slowly, a game will be retrieved, and so will friendship.

This weekend, parks, playgrounds, beaches, fields and stadiums will come alive again as people play their favourite sports. When facilities were closed, we missed that boy in us and that girl. We missed taking our children out and teaching them the l
This weekend, parks, playgrounds, beaches, fields and stadiums will come alive again as people play their favourite sports. When facilities were closed, we missed that boy in us and that girl. We missed taking our children out and teaching them the little we know, says the writer. ST FILE PHOTO

Play is a form of socialising and we’ve forgotten the sound of laughter and swearing at an open goal missed. Basketballers will throw some trash talk at each other and racket folk will return to discussions over problem hips. A net might divide us, and the score might separate us, but nothing joins us like play.

Play is a form of socialising and we’ve forgotten the sound of laughter and swearing at an open goal missed. Basketballers will throw some trash talk at each other and racket folk will return to discussions over problem hips. A net might divide us, and the score might separate us, but nothing joins us like play.

Sport is about abandon but this weekend let’s also hold on to caution. Tennis players can substitute shaking hands by tapping rackets like musketeers. No one wants to return to April, where no sense of achievement was found lolling on a chair. We prefer the courts and the courses, for it is not just victory we go to seek but parts of ourselves.

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June 17, 2020 5:00 AM

Never has dusting been so joyous. Shoes are being cleaned and basketballs wiped. Old gym gloves pulled from a closet with a grin. The gutting of rackets tugged at like a violin’s strings. Practice swings taken with golf clubs in living rooms which might result in the death of the odd photo frame.

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