Around the time we were putting our website back together here at Sofresh, Singapore was hosting the 28th edition of the Southeast Asian Games, or the SEA Games for short.
The SEA Games is a biennial, multi-sport event which countries in Southeast Asia participate and compete in. It was originally called the Southeast Asian Peninsula (SEAP) Games, and was the brainchild of Luang Sukhum Nayaoradit, then vice-president of Thailand’s Olympic Committee. The first SEAP Games was held in Bangkok in December 1959. In 1977, the SEAP Federation changed its name to the Southeast Asian Games Federation and accordingly, the SEAP Games became known as the SEA Games – much nicer ring to it, in my opinion.
Singapore’s theme for the SEA Games was “Celebrate the Extraordinary”, and what an extraordinary event the organisers delivered! From the magical opening ceremony, through all the 36 sports and 402 events that over 4,700 athletes competed in, to the memorable farewell and fantastic fireworks show at the closing ceremony.
I think Singapore did pretty well in the arena too, finishing the Games in overall second place with a record haul of 84 Gold medals, 73 Silvers and 102 Bronzes. Six-time table-topper Thailand made it a seventh, while Vietnam came in third.
The standout athlete for me was Singapore’s 20-year-old swimmer Joseph Schooling. He has a disarming, baby-faced grin, shoulders half as broad as the lanes he torpedoed down, and a killer desire to win. Schooling competed in 9 individual and team events, won 9 gold medals, and now has 9 new SEA Games records to his name. Fast forward to early August, Schooling wins Singapore’s first ever medal at the FINA World Championships in Russia: a bronze in the 100m butterfly. His time of 50.96s was just 0.4s shy of the winner’s from South Africa. Schooling has fired up the imagination of a nation not known for our international sporting prowess ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. “Celebrate the Extraordinary” indeed!
And it wasn’t just a spectacular sensorial experience. Massive planning and brilliant logistical execution enabled thousands to throng the many competition venues safely and enjoyably. The invisible, phenomenal feat of technology that breathed life into countless feeds and broadcasts across so many media platforms gave local and international viewers undisrupted live coverage of the events. The return on so much unseen, behind-the-scenes work was manifest in the Singaporean spirit that was stirred and felt across the nation with electrifying pride from the 5th to 16th of June and even a bit beyond that. It was all truly extraodinary.
Reflecting on all the unseen behind-the-scenes work that enables what the world sees to work smoothly, I thought of my colleagues at Sofresh.
They are sprinters. When orders come in late at night, or are sometimes changed in transit, they have to execute super-fast and successful turn-arounds to meet our clients’ deadlines. And that’s ok for us, because we all understand that our clients have extremely tight schedules and high demands placed on them too. So we do our best to serve and make every situation better.
They are marathon runners. When we have back-to-back-to-back cruise ships to supply, my colleagues often pull 72-hour shifts to meet all the orders, make sure every item is of the best quality and condition, packed securely for delivery, correctly stored for health and hygiene, until finally everything is safely loaded onboard. And that’s ok for us too, because as much as it’s about giving 100% reliable service to our clients everytime, it’s also about always keeping the promises we make, and that’s a principle we take to heart and protect carefully here at Sofresh.
They are behind-the-scenes magicians. And any decent magician will tell you before they can perform to an audience, it’s lonely everyday sheer hard work in striving for perfection. Perfection is an ideal we strive for too daily at Sofresh. Sure, conceptually it’s a journey with a never-arrivable destination. But that’s not ever stopped us from trying to attain perfection, and it’ll never be an excuse for us to stop shooting for it.
This year is an exciting one for Singaporeans. It’s our nation’s 50th year of independence. We’ve had an extraordinary SEA Games in June. We’ve had an extra special National Day celebration in August. Around mid-September we’ll have a very exciting and significant General Elections, the results of which will certainly have an impact on the next 50 years for Singapore. And September will round off with the annual Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix right in the heart of our city. And there’s still the last quarter of the year left after all of that!
And that’s when the cruise ship season kicks off in Singapore. We’re pretty busy the whole year round serving all our clients. But come October when the cruise ships which are now in the northern hemisphere sail south and call at Singapore, those are our “crazy days”, and they’ll run to the end of the first quarter of 2016.
In all the non-stop action, I’ll remember to look beneath the everything’s-working surface, and again appreciate the behind-the-scenes world of these extraordinary everyday people whom I’m proud to call my colleagues at Sofresh. Are they worth celebrating the extraordinary over? You bet they are! Every one of them, each and every day.
(Photo credit: SEA Games 2015 official website)