When I was schooling in Sekolah Dato' Abdul Razak, Tanjung Malim, Perak, a fully residential school we were champions in many fields in the small town. We were tops in athletics, football, rugby and hockey. To some extend we were also tops for the South Perak region.
I only remember one occasion when we were humiliated in the small town. We always won the inter school football tournament held in conjunction with the annual Merdeka celebrations. But in one year the night before the final our school football players were brought to watch the final of the inter nation Merdeka Football Tournament at Merdeka Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. Our players must be tired of the journey because we lost the final game 6-5 to Methodist English School (MES) Tanjung Malim who had never beaten us in football.
To add irony to the game our school Principal's son was a star player for the other team and I think he scored one goal for them. Our Principal had a mixed feeling but our football coach cum teacher was furious because he was against the idea of sending his boys to the nation's capital to watch the other game.
But when it came to competing against schools in the whole State of Perak we did not achieve the same status we did down south. There were similar fully residential schools namely Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Ipoh and The Malay College, Kuala Kangsar to contend with beside established schools like Anderson School of Ipoh and King Edward VII School of Taiping. Only occasionally did we beat these schools and won at the Perak State level.
In 1972 the school was transferred to Seremban and suddenly the boys found they were playing in a different field albeit an easier one. Since Negeri Sembilan is smaller than Perak in size and population the boys found out they were facing easier competition. Schools like King George V (KGV) or St. Paul Institution (SPI) which were then kings in sports for Negeri Sembilan suddenly found they have another adversary in Sekolah Dato' Abdul Razak or SDAR.
For my part I feel lucky that I live and work in Seremban. Sometimes my juniors were playing just a few meters away from my office. So a few times when I saw hordes of them coming to town to support their football team I joined them and I felt like a boy again. Although the boys were facing a different environment their spirits were just like when I left school. What more, this time they have songs to sing unlike during my time.
But suddenly the boys found that they were not only competing against boys but girls as well. The girls were and are in the form of Tunku Kurshiah College or TKC, also a fully residential school in Seremban. Of course the competitions among the boys and girls are not in the field of sports. It is in other categories like debating and music. I am sorry to say that in this respect my junior boys are losing to the girls.
I had been a member of my department's marching team for many years. Formerly we marched during the Merdeka and our Ruler's Birthday celebrations but now it is only for Merdeka. My team had won the marching contest for the government departments category a few times. But when it came to the schools section TKC had always been the winners. I wonder if SDAR had ever won this marching competition although the school's band were always invited to be one of the bands to whose music and beat we marchers marched. I personally felt proud everytime I marched right in front of my junior boys.
Yesterday I watched the Finals of the Fully Residential Schools Wind Orchestra Competition at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre or PICC. Eight schools qualified for the Finals including both schools from Seremban. All schools brought along their supporters inside the huge hall. Both Seremban orchestras played very well too.
When it came to the prize giving ceremony the names of the five schools being awarded the consolation prizes were announced first. Each time the name of a school was announced the boys and girls from Seremban applauded since it was becoming clearer that their schools must be winning the better prizes.
After the names of the five consolation winning schools were announced it was clear that both schools from Seremban were in the top three. I for one felt somehow glad that the two fully residential schools from Perak won only consolation prizes.
Then came the announcement for the best orchestra conductor. There were shrieks from the Seremban girls as their conductor was announced the winner. I already sensed that the girls orchestra was going to win just like in the movie awards when the film directed by the Best Director always won the Best Picture award.
Then the announcer announced the third prize winner. It was not the Wind Orchestra of of either Seremban school. Again the girls shrieked while my junior boys just shouted in their hoarse voices. It was being clear that it was either the championship or runners up position for them.
Then the second prize winner was announced. It was the Wind Orchestra of my school. The TKC girls gave their most vocal shrieks of the day as they knew that their school's orchestra had won. My junior boys just clapped their hands knowing that they were beaten by the girls again.