‘We are proud of you, Pa’

Chow Kwai Lam

Several men were seen arranging tables and chairs, preparing for Chow Kwai Lam’s wake at his home in Taman Nirwana, Ampang.

In the middle of the hall laid the former national footballer and coach, once a household name.

Chow died this morning at Hospital Ampang due to kidney failure. He was 76.

“The wake is tomorrow and Wednesday,” clarified Andy, Chow’s eldest son as he and his mother Sam Chooi Har, 60, and three other siblings – elder sister Carey Chow, 42, and twins Pauline and Calvin (aged 32), were busy making arrangements for the funeral scheduled for Thursday.

“We lost him too soon,” the 36-year-old added.

Chow, according to Andy, was a strict man both on the field and at home.

“I was in primary school and I joined his training once. It was too tough. I gave up!” recalled Andy.

“He was a strict coach and a strict dad. He was a disciplinarian even at home. But as he grew older, he mellowed and we saw the softer side of him.”

None of his siblings took up the sport although Andy plays social football.

“He never forced any of us into football. He told me that if I was interested, he’d be happy to coach me.”

Chow donned the national jersey from 1965 to 1971. He coached the national team in 1978.

He also coached the national Under-23 team, nicknamed Barcelona Babes, from 1990 to 1991.

Chow is best remembered for guiding Kuala Lumpur to Malaysia Cup victory for three consecutive years (1987 to 1989).

He also coached Singapore clubs Tampines Rovers (2002-2003) and Paya Lebar Punggol (2004-2005).

“He was such a popular man. I remember in school, he was always swamped by fans. He was a hero to many, and to us as well.”

Andy said Chow suffered a minor stroke some five years ago but the second stroke hit his dad hard.

“He was then diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent an operation at Hospital Ampang two months ago. But he fell ill several days ago and was hospitalised for dehydration. That hit his kidney, causing it to deteriorate and fail.”

“For a sportsman, passing away at 76 is a bit young. Then again, he was an active man and he suffered two strokes, so yeah … you just can’t predict life.”

“We are happy and proud for what our dad has achieved.”

Chow’s wake will be held at his home at No. 12, Jalan Nirwana 39, Taman Nirwana, Ampang on July 17 and 18 while his remains will be laid to rest at the Fairy Park (Seremban) Memorial Park in Sendayan on July 19.

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