23 Dec 2015

Community - SG50 -

SG50 Icons of Singapore #48 - Kallang Wave

It’s literally surround sound!

Aaron Peng

Let’s start off with a disclaimer: this article is not an advertisement for the new mall that opened beside the Sports Hub with the same name.

Neither is it a special handshake or greeting by a man named Kallang (which has a surprisingly hipster sound to it).

What it is however, is an embodiment of the Singapore will and spirit, a special ritual that started in the Kallang Stadium in the form of a wave, by standing up, bellowing and simultaneously raising and lowering your hands when it’s your turn, and sitting back immediately down after.


SG50 Icon - Kallang Wave


Sounds complicated? It’s not that bad really if you see a video of it below.



And here are the little tidbits I found while trying to unravel its origins:

The first Kallang Wave?

The story goes that the first Kallang Wave was done in 1990, at the Malaysia Cup match of Singapore vs Perlis where the estimated crowd was 20,000, and was actually part of a tradition called the Kallang Roar (which is pretty much what you think it is) from the 1970s.

Why Kallang?

Whenever there is a soccer match between Singapore against any other country, and Singapore is the home team, the match will be played at Kallang Stadium, also known as the National Stadium in the later years.

The significance?


To motivate and cheer up the Singapore team, just imagine playing in the field and everyone around you starts cheering… in a synchronized and orderly manner.


It’s literally surround sound!

Perhaps the surprisingly thing about the Kallang Wave, compared to the other SG50 Icons, is that so little is known about it. A simple search will actually direct you to the mall, or a certain ‘mockumentary’ by a local beer company. It’s actually quite funny and innovative, and deserves a mention here.

Check out the short video below if you are interested.



Personally, the last time I experienced the Kallang Wave was at the new Sports Hub, when Arsenal was playing the Singapore Select XI for the Barclays Asia Trophy a few months back.

I must say it definitely spruced up the stadium when the Kallang Wave was in motion. The rest of the match was actually relatively quiet in comparison.

That being said, I think the lack of coordination or understanding of the wave led to it evolving to becoming a two-sided wave instead of just one, causing it to end in the middle.

What are the rules for it anyway?

Based on the few videos I’ve seen, one started waving to the left, while the other started to the right.

And it’s worse when there’s a wave within a wave (a secondary wave, or wave-ception if you will), and everyone gets confused, or at least that’s what happened at the match.

Perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye… and this will remain a mystery until or the founder or some of us can shed some light on how it turned out so perfect in the past.

Meanwhile, don’t let it stop you from waving, and remember to cheer hard for our Singapore athletes! The Kallang Wave is not restricted to soccer events only and should make a re-emergence given that our Sports Hub is ready and we’re hosting so many sports events now.

See you at the next Kallang Wave! (No, not the shopping mall really)


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