By Ivan Ng (RJC, 2006) and Farhan Harahap (RJC, 2007)

The alumni softballers intended to spring a big surprise celebration for their softball coach, Nelson Lim’s 60th birthday, and also to recognize his 21 years of service with RI. This idea soon evolved to become part of a grand plan to reunite all the batches of Raffles softballers since 1960.

Coach Nelson Lim's 60th birthday cake
Coach Nelson Lim’s 60th birthday cake

ORA Softball held its first dinner gathering in 2006, and the second in 2010. The organising committee for the third ORA Softball Dinner was formed in September 2012, and our first and most difficult task was to reach out to the different batches of softballers from 1960 till today. Over seven years, we had built up a database containing our past softballers’ contact information, and with it, we began our journey to find more of ‘us’, with the help of the team captains of the respective batches.

The third ORA Gryphons Softball Dinner was held on 23 March 2013. Initial estimates showed an astonishing total of 300 guests, and it was instinctively clear to the committee that the venue of choice would have to be the Albert Hong Hall in RI. The Bishan campus has been home to many softballers, all of whom have spent many long hours on the field; it continues to be ORA Softball’s training ground and a meeting point for many ever since the ORA Annual Slowpitch Carnival was held in 2008. While the Grange Road campus is best remembered for its dominating home crowd, supporting from the classrooms and spectator stands, the Bishan campus is now renowned for its integrated Year 1–6 facilities, and of course, the RI Softball Diamond with the magnificent clock tower overlooking it.

The ORA Softball Dinner was the perfect opportunity to connect and reconnect softballers from the past, and to keep the softball community informed of the achievements of Raffles Softball. Our committee remains committed to extend our reach to a wider network of softballers, including past and current school staff, parents and current students. This dinner gave us the opportunity to foster a deeper understanding and awareness of ORA Softball’s culture to the young (and extended families), with the hope to nurture and develop in them, a deep and abiding love for the game and for the school.

RJC Softball Girls' team from the RJC Classes of 1993-1994
RJC Softball Girls’ team from the RJC Classes of 1993-1994
Raffles Softballers from the RI Classes of 1986-1989
Raffles Softballers from the RI Classes of 1986-1989

A section of the hall was allocated for the display of three booths: History of Raffles Softball, ORA Softball, and Coach Nelson. These three booths displayed short historical write-ups, quotes, testimonials coupled with pictures and notable achievements. Needless to say, it quickly became the highlight of the night as even graduates from the RI Class of 1987 began disputing the stories behind their National Schools’ tournaments. Students were also captivated by the pictures of Raffles softballers in their classic jerseys in the 1960s and the photos of seniors and coaches in the 2000s.

The 1969 Junior Team
The 1969 Junior Team
The 1987 A-Division Team
The 1987 A-Division Team

In addition to the 13-course buffet dinner menu, the committee put together an exciting programme for the night that featured video performances by the students, a live song performance by the RGS girls and greetings from softballers who are currently overseas.

One of the highlights of the night featured Coach Nelson’s wife and family members as special guests-of-honour—our way of showing appreciation for their sacrifices and for their support of Coach Nelson over these 21 years. The special moment came with a surprise birthday celebration and a birthday cake in the shape of a softball, and many batches of softballers also showered Coach with birthday gifts.

Coach Nelson Lim holding a plaque - which lists the championship titles of the A-Division Boys and Girls, the B Division Boys and the C Division Girls - commemorating his 21 years of service with RI
Coach Nelson Lim holding a plaque – which lists the championship titles of the A-Division Boys and Girls, the B Division Boys and the C Division Girls – commemorating his 21 years of service with RI

Nonetheless, the night of celebrations belonged to ORA Softball for a most successful dinner, which brought together a total of 285 Raffles softballers with their families. The biggest turnout came from the RI Classes of 1986–1989 and 2004–2006, as well as the families of current softballers. ORA Softball was established with six main objectives, amongst which are to promote the game of softball and create events and activities to bring the different generations of Rafflesians and their families and friends together through softball—we believe this ORA Softball Dinner has gone over and beyond in fulfilling this objective and will definitely go down as a huge milestone in our ORA Gryphons Softball history.

May we always pursue excellence in sports, creation of friendships, and life-long experiences!

Watch our Raffles Softball History video here: