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Canagasabai Kunalan
  • March 9th, 2005

Canagasabai Kunalan

Farrer Park stadium is one of the historic sites by the Singapore National Heritage Board. It was 75th sites to be marked, based on economic, cultural, social and military significance, including early educational institutions this year (2003)

This is the place in the 60’s where athletes comes to train and compete at the Farrer Park Athletic Centre which was later renamed to Farrer Park Stadium, was closed in August 1998 and subsequently demolished.

Farrer Road initially started out as a site for Singapore’s first racecourse, which was built in 1842 by the Singapore Sporting Club. When the club was moved to Bukit Timah Road and now to Kranji, the old racecourse was converted to a public sports field known as Farrer Park in 1935. It was named after Reginald John Farrer who was the President of the Municipal Commissioners

It was a place for the Europeans to mingle and just meet-up. From there, Farrer Park was slowly invaded by the locals and became the famous sporting hub for athletes, soccer players and residents to use

We spoke to one of Singapore beloved son, who has brought much glory to the nation, Mr C.Kunalan to tell us more on the on-goings there during his time there and some of the olden days stories

  1. Is Farrer Park stadium exclusive only to National Athletes?

    Kunalan: No it’s open to all. It’s a very nice place. The people at times would sit down and see you train, at times cheering. When there was a grand sports event, the grandstand will always be full. It was a small place but it holds much good memories

  2. Was Farrer Park stadium you trained? Was the track made of cinder?

    Kunalan: No, we do train at the People’s Association track. It was under the Katong district. The track there is made of hard bitumen. So after every training, your spikes will wear off. We tend to train there when Farrer Park stadium was used by schools for sports events. I recalled enjoyed running at Farrer Park stadium as 100m will always be the first race and I’ll get the first taste of the track when they lay it out. If it rains, it will be a muddy patch. In 1965, they changed it to bitumen track

  3. Tell us some off-track moments at Farrer Park stadium

    Kunalan: Well after my training I would usually go to the nearby ‘sarabat’ stalls for drinks with my teammates. There’s this stall called “Minah Stall” which serve good coffee. I recall also a great Chinese rojak stall there. But most of the times, I won’t stay long, as I need to get home and mark books by my students. I was working as a teacher back then

  4. Who are the people that will be training there?

    Kunalan: Back then Swift and another club Achilles will train there. Flash wasn’t formed yet until the 80’s. My wife was from Swift and so was I. I met my wife ‘koyok’, Chong Yoong Yin there. My coach was Tan Eng Yoon, a very knowledgeable self-taught coach

  5. How about the facilities there?

    Kunalan: Well in 1963-1964, our weight equipment was in Dorset Road which was just nearby. It was in an old bungalow house converted to a gym. Most of our equipments were homemade. In 1965 we moved the equipment to a shed within the stadium. Before training we would roll out the equipment, lay it out neatly and we would train under the tree for shade. We would then packed everything back into the shed after the training. Only in 1971 did our first real weights equipment came in.

  6. Any other activities there?

    Kunalan: Well we used Farrer Park stadium as our centralized training area to prepare for 1967 SEAP Games (now known as SEA Games). We would start our training there 2 weeks before the games starts. In 1966 while preparing for the Asian Games, we rented a nearby housing quarter. Training was easy, as it was just a stone’s throw away from the bungalow. But most of the time, I won’t stay long as I was married. I would train in the morning, eat lunch with the team and go home and train again in the afternoon

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Posted by Uncle Sha.
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