Football: Football fraternity pays tribute to Sundram's dad

Sundram's father, Varadaraju, died in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Sundram's father, Varadaraju, died in the early hours of yesterday morning.PHOTO: ST FILE

Varadaraju bought the first pair of boots for his son, who later went on to dazzle the opposition and fans on football pitches in Singapore, Malaysia and even Switzerland.

That boy is V. Sundram Moorthy, one of Singapore's top footballers who is now the national football coach. Varadaraju, 80, died in the early hours of yesterday morning, leaving behind his wife, three daughters and Sundram.

Many in the football fraternity remembered the man as a giant of a footballer in his own right, one who helped the development of several players, including Sundram. He was also described as a gentleman.

"We all called him by his nickname 'Gondol', and he was a wonderful man who used to work at the Sembawang Shipyard," recalled Mohana Dass, the father of national defender Madhu, in reference to Varadaraju's bald head in his teens.

"He was always very friendly whenever my family and I bumped into him at the Marsiling coffeeshop near his home.

"I was very sad when I heard of his death, and I took the rest of the day off to be with his family (at the wake)."

On the pitch, Varadaraju was a no-nonsense player.

"He was an extremely dedicated player. Once he stepped onto the field, he was committed and he demanded the same from everybody," said former Singapore defender Bernard Norbert.

Norbert was coached by Varadaraju at local club Junior Athletic Association (JAA) that played in the top tier of the Football Association of Singapore league, and he later guided a 13-year-old Sundram as coach of the JAA junior team.

In an interview with iremember.sg, Sundram, 52, struggled to recall the brand of the boots that helped launch his football career, but the gesture was never forgotten.

"That was my first pair of boots and my father got them for me. He was really supportive of me playing football and he bought me whatever I needed," he said.

The wake is held at Block 136, Marsiling Road with the funeral scheduled for tomorrow evening.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2017, with the headline 'Football fraternity pays tribute to Sundram's dad'. Print Edition | Subscribe