ST-Komoco Euro 2016 contest: So near yet so far, now duo want a taste of the action

A 10-year-old Oon Wee Han with his father in their Paris apartment in 1984, when Steven Oon was a secretary in the Singapore Embassy.
A 10-year-old Oon Wee Han with his father in their Paris apartment in 1984, when Steven Oon was a secretary in the Singapore Embassy.PHOTO: OON WEE HAN

When France captain Michel Platini hoisted the 1984 European Championship trophy inside the Parc des Princes Stadium for their first major football title, Oon Wee Han was just 1km from the action.

From his three-room apartment's living room in Boulogne-Billancourt in western Paris, where he watched the live telecast on TV, the 10-year-old Singaporean boy could see the fireworks and hear the firecrackers going off as celebrations erupted along the streets of the French capital.

"I was near enough to see the bright lights of the stadium and I could feel it (the excitement)," recounted Oon, now 41. "But I was just a young boy then who was too small to go out on my own. The possibility of watching a live match didn't even cross my mind at that time."

After moving back to Singapore at 12, however, Oon gradually realised what he had missed in the five years he lived in Paris, where his father Steven had worked as a secretary at the Singapore Embassy.

"So close yet so far," said Oon, a Germany supporter because he was born in Bonn.

The freelance writer said: "The last time France were hosts, I was so close to the action but never got to watch it live.

"Now 32 years later, in the same city and same tournament, I hope to get a chance."

Like Oon, it was also a case of so near but yet so far for Vincent Hong. He spent 20 days volunteering as a media operations assistant at Euro 2008 while an exchange student at the University of Stuttgart.

But that did not mean he got to catch any of the action live in the Austrian city of Klagenfurt, which hosted three group matches. In fact, he never set foot in the stadium, having been based two tram stops away.

The 32-year-old master's holder said: "I wanted to totally immerse myself in the action. To be able to be sitting it a spectator seat will complete the whole experience."

Oon and Hong are among the 113 entrants who are hoping to win a trip to France to catch three Euro 2016 matches, the top prize in the The Straits Times-Komoco contest.

The winner will travel to Paris and Marseille from June 27 to July 3 to watch one round-of-16 match and two quarter-final games. Travel, accommodation and costs for selected meals will be covered.

All contestants need to do is describe, in 100 words, which European Championship moment has had the biggest impact on them.

The contest, which is open only to Singapore citizens aged 18 and above, closes on Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'So near yet so far, now duo want a taste of the action'. Print Edition | Subscribe