I'm not going to try to describe the game, partly because we lost in a heartbreaking series of penalty shootouts, but also because I don't possess the vocabulary to do justice to even the most pathetic of games. As it is, I had to verify the term 'penalty shootout' with Terz before typing the previous sentence.
No, I was more preoccupied with the fact that it was probably my last visit to the National Stadium, the grand old lady of local sporting events herself. I hear it's going to be demolished next month, and there are already enough cranes and other construction/demolition equipment rudely parked in her immediate surroundings environs to stir that impending sense of doom.
Within her concrete walls --- they'd seemed so much taller when I was a child attending National Day parades --- the stadium was barer than I'd ever seen her. No more detritus of event posters, soda-stained paper drink cups, crushed plastic food wrappers, empty bags that once held potato chips, peanuts and other half-time snacks. Just functional red plastic signs overhead, looking too glossy-new for the old lady, dictating, "West Entrance", "9A 9B 10A 10B 11A 11B" and "Grandstand".
The story inside the stadium was much the same. I suppose is how she normally looks, when she's not playing host to national events. Even the massive stadium lights, its landmark sentinels, seem shorter, less impressive, and I don't remember when they acquired little glass-like umbrella structures over them. I hoped that they'd be turned on, for one last burst, as the match wore into the twilight hour, but no such luck. They remained mute, as if disdainful of our humble game in comparison to all the glorious hours they'd seen before.
Maybe the place seemed all the more forlorn for its emptiness. The turnout was good for a school sports event, but we barely filled the grandstand. Across the way, school banners flapped lazily whenever the evening breeze deigned to drift by, the banners' irregular shapes adding to the impression that mismatched discards had been left strewn over the various sections. In contrast to the zesty student leaders sprinting across those sections, flying their school flags high, the stadium herself was inert, disinterested. We were the intruders on her own private wake; she just wanted to be left in peace for her last few days.
First, the library; now, the stadium. What will they take next?