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Uncle Goh

This 70-year-old uncle will make you fall in love with football

A man of many talents, Uncle Goh can also entertain with songs from different languages.

Unlike many 70-year-olds, Goh Koon Hiang is not exactly leading the laid-back life of a retiree. But not that the grandfather of three is complaining.

Meet Uncle Goh, Tampines Rovers Football Club’s kitman whose juggling skills have won the hearts of fans on social media. He has been known to be able to juggle around the running track at least twice without dropping the ball!

Footballers are the stars of the show but behind the scenes are the unsung heroes whose passion and hard work off the pitch add to the success of every team.

At the age of 70, Goh Koon Hiang, or better known to many as Uncle Goh, works as a kitman for five-time Singapore Premier League winners Tampines Rovers Football Club.

The bubbly and down-to-earth Uncle Goh has been part of the Tampines Rovers family for 10 years, where he oversees the logistics of the team.

What does a kitman do?

Uncle Goh is responsible for managing the equipment, such as preparing the footballs for training and warm-ups and the training kits and jerseys for players.

He starts his day by pumping the footballs according to the standard pressure, preparing water for players and staff members and arranging the training equipment as requested by the head coach.

On match days, Uncle Goh is the first to arrive at the stadium, where he organizes the dressing room and ensures the footballs are ready before the warm-up session begins.

How did Uncle Goh become a kitman?

Uncle Goh’s love affair with football started when he was nine. Under the influence of his friends living in the same kampong, they would always go and watch football competitions that took place nearby. He tried to model his game after Brazilian legend and idol Pele.

After his retirement from SIA Engineering, where he was a Senior Officer in the Line Maintenance department, Uncle Goh was roped in by the late Lim Chiew Peng, Singapore former national goalkeeper, to join Tampines Rovers as a kitman. He agreed to take up the job without any hesitations.

“I have loved football my entire life, so this job is really suitable for me. Additionally, the players, coaches and management have shown me a lot of respect. I’m very happy,” said Uncle Goh.

Social media fans love Uncle Goh

Earlier in 2021, Tampines Rovers Football Club posted a 10-second video of Uncle Goh showing his juggling skills. In the video, Uncle Goh is seen wearing a face mask, and he calmly lifts the ball and shows off his deft juggling abilities, which earned the praise of netizens.

“I watched a lot of football matches on the television and observed how the players would juggle the ball. I practised every day. After my retirement, I would go to the running track at Singapore Polytechnic to practise my juggling. I would run with the ball and juggle it around the track for at least three rounds,” smiled the talented Uncle Goh, who is also multilingual in several languages including Thai, Tagalong, Tamil, Bahasa, Mandarin and Burmese.

To date, the video on Facebook has over 6,000 views and close to 3,000 likes on TikTok!

Football is a network of people

Uncle Goh is one of the many unsung heroes working tirelessly behind the scenes of a football club. He is driven by passion, and his love of football pushes him to succeed in his role and to fulfil his duties.

“The job of a kitman may seem simple, but it’s not actually. Nobody will be able to see us at work because we work behind the scenes. We ensure the logistics and operations run like a clockwork so that the boys can just focus on their performance on the pitch,” said Uncle Goh.

Football is played by 11 players on the pitch but behind every successful football club is a team of dedicated individuals such as Uncle Goh, whose efforts, whether small or big, goes a long way.

Thank you, Uncle Goh. We salute your efforts!

By Calvin Koh

November 16, 2021

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