Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Scenes - Sarikei First Basketball Stadium

Sarikei First Basketball Stadium 1975 - view from padang.
Find the "red bean" trees and the ticket booth.
Photo from St Anthony's School Sports Day.

arikei's first basketball stadium had been around since1962-63. It was the centre of activities together with the padang (field). In the 70's, Chinese wedding lunches were usually held there. Restaurants like the favourite Ah Kow's Hung Kiew Kee Cantonese restaurant delivered its dishes on trays balanced precariously on their bicycles together with its only station wagon. Remember the cold dish appetiser of various meat and jellyfish, siew mai, etc?

Sarikei First Basketball Stadium 2000 - cleaning campaign.
Below the benches were kamat (crab) mounds.

The stadium was popular for basketball in the 1970's where epic battles between teams like Hai Xia (Sea Straits) and Dong Fun (East Side) were eagerly awaited in the annual double knockout competition. In the 1970-1980's, Sarikei hosted the Sarawak divisional competitions like basketball, volleyball and tabletennis which were rotated around the seven divisions then. The most exciting match had to be the ladies' basketball finals where Sarikei, the underdogs motivated by the home crowd frenzy, nearly toppled Kuching who had leng teoh (match fright) from the loud cheer that nearly brought down the roof. Sarikei has proudly contributed several state and country level players for basketball and volleyball. This is mainly due to good facilities in schools and the town and youth programs like inter school and youth competitions.

Sarikei Basketball Stadium (gone) 2006 - view from Civic Centre
Find the new block of shops (right). (source: Lam Lai Chee)

The stadium was popular for the Chinese New Year singing competition in the 1970-1980's. One of the winners, Janet Lee Chai Fong 李采霞, became a Chinese pop star in Malaysia with her own album (cassette format then). The stadium was demolished in 2003 (2002?) and activities have moved to the newer stadium near Nyelong Park. A block of new shops including Everrise supermarket had been built in its original location and completed in August 2004. Adios to another heritage icon. Sadly the stadium has had its swan song.


nung said...

Kamat (crab) mounds in the basketball staudium? Amazing ! This
is the ultimate "green design". No International green design guru can ever come up such great design concept.

Kanga said...

I recalled before the studium roof was on, there were bright lights surrounding the court and the millions of night insects also joined in the fun. I have even witnessed political rallies on the court then. Also in those days some Sarikei folks played volley ball on the court even when it rained at night (hey it was the 9-men per side game and no rotation! can anyone still remember?)

After the roof went up there were constant activities; basket ball, badminton, concerts, dancing, soldiers drilling/marching, even illegal gambling, etc, too much to include. My unforgettable memory was playing basketball in the afternoon after the wedding lunch sessions. Your palms got covered by a combination of oyster sauce, soy sauce, sweet & sour sauce, greenspot drink, etc picked by the ball from the floor in no time!
I also recalled the stadium used to have a mechanically operated scoring display system. It was high tech in those days (but it always jammed!)

Thank you Daniel for bringing up this unforgettable icon!

Sim Y said...

I always have this memory. Many years back, when my father was a Sixth Division Ladies Basketball coach.
When the sixth division vs first division (Kuching)in the final, the whole stadium was physically shaking and there was so much cheering. But we got beaten by 5 points(?).
It's sad that we can't go back and feel the same memories at the same old spot anymore.

Anonymous said...

This stadium was also the place where the basketball powerhouse, Hua Chiew, regularly beat St Anthony in secondary school baskeball tournaments!!!!

Kanga said...

There was another allegedly unforgettable momment. It wasn't division vs division then. It was the Sarikei men's basket ball team beat Kuching men's team in this stadium; by 2 points! Can anyone confirm this?(I did not see the match. What a miss). I also heard that the Kuching troop was so upset that there 're-arranged' the furnitures of the primary school they stayed in before they left!! Ha!ha! I'll double check with my elder brother to confirm this. Both he and I were frequent users of this covered basketball studium at one stage.

gongpiang said...

Can anyone recall the name of the caretaker? He stays beside the basketball court housed behind the Chinese chamber of commerce. No one?...Yes I can! He is called “Q-Mo”, translated to Hokkien is called “Curly hair”….HAHA!

Lee Chia Xia? You got to remember her father, Sarikei’s grand old king of pop whose favorite song was “Moon Come Fragrance”, of course direct translation from Chinese la.

Daniel Yiek said...

The basketball court was built over swamps. The benches around the court were built over natural earth to save cement cost. Soon the crabs came back to build their homes amongst the broken glasses. :) The balls sometimes fell into the gap between the benches until they hammered small planks across the gaps for one of the divisional contests.

Basketball and Greenspot drinks! :) During my time, the rusty metal score board was at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce side and I was one of the many kids who kept the score. Sometimes, we lost attention and the umpires had to wake us up. Later a new scoreboard with bigger figures was put up at the District Council side for a divisional contest.

Your dad was a great coach! Our S'kei ladies were not as technically skilled as the Kuching gals who could even do "jump shots" like guys but the home crowd drove them on. The home crowd yelled and the roof resonated and they clapped and banged the benches. The stadium literally shook. Both teams cried after the stressful match.

I hate to say this but you are right that Hua Chiew's (Sekolah Tinngi) teamwork in bball often beat St Anthony's individual flair. The rivalry between schools like Kwang Chieng vs Methodist vs St Anne's and Hua Chiew vs Anthony's was good as it drove the kids to train hard.

Sarikei's best basketball & volleyball player ever was "Longman" and "Ah Chuang" respectively who both represented M'sia's 1st team (ie not reserves).

Hax2!! Q-Mo! Sounds like a hip hop name. Yes, I remember him!

"Moon Come Fragance". Oh my god! That was classic song.

fred said...

some of my fren use to pay there after school. its a pity they have to move it far away from the city center. too far..

Sim Y said...

This is definitely one of the greatest memories. 'Bring The House Down' no more.

Kanga said...

Nowadays whenever I go back to Sarikei and walk past this spot,I often thought "progress? but ai-yoh! I lost to see the playing ground where many in my days can cycle in, do a few loops and cycle out again!"

Daniel Yiek said...

There are not many heritage icons left in Sarikei. The shophouses, Methodist Church and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce are the last few standing. The shophouses are evolving with all sorts of renovations to its facade. It would help preservation of shophouses if there are gov incentives to keep the facade.

Daniel Yiek said...

Gong Piang,
I think the song "Moon Come Frangrance" is "Night Come Fragrance".

edulink said...

Should not have remove the basketball stadium....sigh....

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