Sabah quake: Teacher introduced national hockey player to the sport

SINGAPORE - Mr Mohammad Ghazi was remembered by friends, former students and colleagues today at the Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) tribute centre.

He was an avid hockey player who coached the TKPS hockey team, influencing at least one student to take up the sport and later become a national player.

SEA Games national hockey player Ivy Chan Ai Wei, 19, was in his science class when she was in Primary 4. She described him as a patient and friendly teacher who took a personal interest in the well-being of his students.

Mr Ghazi started a girls' hockey team in 2007, when Ms Chan was in Primary 5. Prior to that, the school hockey team consisted of only boys.

"He knew I was interested in sports, so he invited me to join," said Ms Chan, who had no previous exposure to the game at the time.

When she was in Primary 6, Mr Ghazi took a group of students kayaking and camping at Pulau Ubin as part of a student leaders' camp, the equivalent programme of the Omega Challenge expedition to Mount Kinabalu at the time.

"He took the time to check on all of us every night before we went to bed, to make sure we were okay," she said.

Ms Chan first participated in the SEA Games as a national hockey player in 2013.

"He messaged me to wish me good luck for my first games. It was nice to know that he still looked out for his former students," she said.

"He played a big part in my life. I really wouldn't be where I am today without him."

Ms Lily Suriani Tan, 33, who had known Mr Ghazi for more than 10 years, recalled playing hockey alongside him in inter-varsity hockey tournaments.

The Kheng Cheng School teacher was in Mr Ghazi's cohort at the National Institute of Education when they underwent vocational training, and graduated together.

"I just saw him the week before he left for Kota Kinabalu," she said at Mr Ghazi's tribute table. "I'm broken. I was really expecting he would come back, after all this while."

About 30 of his teammates from the Ministry of Education football team also arrived in their team jerseys to show express their condolences for Mr Ghazi.

The team's manager, Mr Abdul Nasir, 49, said that Mr Ghazi had been an exemplary player who had been on the team for more than 10 years, and could play any position the team needed him to.

"We came down yesterday, but did not offer any tributes for Mr Ghazi. We were still hoping for good news," he said. "When we heard the news this morning, we decided to come again."