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Spreading The Festive Spirit - A Tampines Rovers Initiative to Help Migrant Workers

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

In light of the recent International Migrants Day and Christmas celebrations, the Stags decided to spread the festive cheer to a very special group of people - the migrant workers.

Pictured (from left to right) : Tampines player Amirul Haikal, Goalkeeper Coach William Phang, MWC Head for Unions and Projects Sathish Naidu, Head Coach Gavin Lee, Tampines player Irwan Shah.

On 22nd December, a few members of our team headed down to the Migrant Workers Centre's Recreational Centre to hand over goodies meant for the 980 workers residing in Coastal Dormitory, who will receive the team’s 2022 Fan T-shirt, EZ-Link cards (with $10 credit), and cans of H-TWO-O isotonic drinks, courtesy of Yeo’s.

While we were unable to directly pass these items to the migrant workers due to the strict covid-19 regulations in place, we were undeterred. Working closely together with the Migrant Workers Centre (MWC) Head for Unions and Projects Sathish Naidu, we managed to find a way to pass these items to the workers at Coastal Dorm.

Why Migrant Workers?

Migrant workers have long been the cornerstone to Singapore's development. Singapore has earned many labels since its independence. Many have called it "a clean and green city" or "a city that never stops growing." It is the migrant workers who have continuously ensured that we maintain these titles through their daily efforts at work.

Yet, despite their clear importance, the migrant workforce has become a marginalized community in Singapore. More often than not, they are shunned by Singaporeans. This social isolation was further aggravated when the pandemic struck and after a massive cluster in dormitories, stringent protocols were adopted to ensure a repeat never occurs. Unfortunately, such measures have effectively restricted migrant workers to the confines of their dormitories. Thus, migrant workforce are further alienated from the rest of society.

“We hope that this endeavour, the first of many planned, can remind these workers that they are valued members of our society, and that we, and the community at large, are with them through these tough times,” mentioned our Head Coach, Gavin Lee (pictured above).

Likewise, the players who participated shared similar sentiments, with both 33-year old full-back Irwan Shah, and 22-year old defender Amirul Haikal feeling blessed to have been part of this giveaway and sharing their reflections about the plight of migrant workers.

"I’ve always respected them for their contributions to Singapore’s infrastructure despite constantly facing unjust working conditions," explains Amirul (pictured on the left). "Now with the restrictions imposed on them due to COVID-19, I cannot imagine what they must be going through. So, it is important that we continue to support them."

"The Covid-19 pandemic has been especially tough on them because their movements are restricted." Irwan added (pictured on the right). "It must be really difficult to not be able to see their loved ones back home, and we hope that this small effort spreads some cheer during these hard times.”

Not Alone, Never Alone

Besides working closely with the MWC, we also worked with Yeo's, through their subsidiary H-TWO-O, who graciously donated 140 cartons of H-TWO-O canned drinks for the migrant workers.

"Many local football fans fondly remember Yeo's as a co-title sponsor of the S.League, and who can forget the H-TWO-O Ultimate Dream Team," adds Tampines Rovers Goalkeeping Coach William Phang. "We are delighted to work together with Yeo's and H-TWO-O again, and this time on such a meaningful project."

We ended our session by having a dialogue with Sathish to learn more about what the MWC does and pertinent issues that the migrant workforce is currently facing.

Our gestures may seem small but Sathish feels otherwise.

“MWC is very appreciative of the steadfast support from Tampines Rovers during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic," said Sathish. "We are heartened to see the management, coaching staff and players coming forth to do their part to bring some festive cheer during the Christmas season to the migrant workers in Singapore, many of whom have been unable to see their families in the last two years.”

The migrant workers also took pictures and sent messages of gratitude for the gifts that they received.

Nevertheless, what we can all agree on is that more needs to be done for the migrant workers.

“We need to continue the efforts to improve the dormitory conditions so that they will be happier here and in better living conditions. It’s time to give back to them – support them,” believes Irwan.

Amirul echoes his sentiments. “Awareness is important but we collectively also need to lend support to these workers, from providing basic necessities to improving their living conditions," he suggests. "They deserve our fullest support for all they have done.”

We are primed to continue our support for the migrant workforce 2022. So, follow us on our journey as we aim to make a meaningful difference in their lives.

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