Courtesy of Nuffnang, I got to catch the second leg of Axiata Cup semi-finals between Malaysia Tigers and Indonesia Garuda at the Badminton Stadium Cheras (Kuala Lumpur). I was utterly disappointed that Datuk Lee Chong Wei didn’t turn up (he was apparently spotted at the VIP section of Genting‘s casino on the night before) and to add to that, Hafiz Hashim didn’t play and our locals were embarrassingly trashed by the visitors. What a devastating April Fool’s night it was. But I’m not gonna whine about the performance here. This entry is about the experience of watching badminton games live at the stadium itself.
Initially, I wanted to give the tickets to my parents since they’re such hardcore fans of the sport and our national star players, but they turned me down by saying, “Why would we wanna go through the congestion of traffic and people when we can watch the games comfortably at home?” Fair enough. So I went with my girlfriend instead since both of us have never actually seen a badminton game at the actual venue before.
As usual, prior to the start of the event, you have all these promotions going on at the entrances. Vendors selling t-shirts, scarfs, hats, flags, signs & whistles for those who want to show their support to that extend. People selling drinks. Promoters advertising and marketing the brands and sponsors (it was Celcom‘s The Cube yesterday). When we enter the stadium, we were only allowed to sit at one half of the place. The other half was apparently for Indonesian supporters. But the real purpose was to force the crowd to fill up the seats of one side to make the stadium seemed full house on broadcast. The truth was that the stadium was rather small and less than three quarters of the seats were filled last night. Not to mention that most tickets were probably given out for free.
The crowd was fantastic. Although the stadium wasn’t really packed as I’ve mentioned, the level of noise the supporters make was overwhelming. Some brought their own signs (one stating his prediction “Malaysia 3 – 0 Indonesia” which unfortunately didn’t come true), some brought horns, many brought national flags, and there was even a group with drums. Most were just clapping with the provided Bong Bong Sticks (so was I). It was so loud that the announcements couldn’t be heard at all. However, the sound system there was actually very poor as well. There were a few groups that were jumping and dancing while cheering. It makes me wonder if they were really doing it to show support, or if they were creating attention to get the cameras on them, or worse, got paid to do it because I think I saw some of those faces at some basketball match before. One thing for certain, everyone there burst into excitement whenever they see their faces on the large screen. When they didn’t, they just sat and clapped those Bong Bong Sticks.
The number of the audience may perhaps be deceiving on broadcast but the atmosphere is pretty much real. It’s something that can’t be felt unless you’re present. Besides that and showing immediate support to the national team, I think there really isn’t any others reasons to actually watch it live at the stadium instead of watching the broadcast at home. Live broadcasts give you commentary, good camera angles, slow motion replays and close-up shots on the players expressions. You won’t get any of that from the stadium unless your eye sight is inhuman. So in conclusion, my parents were right. Watching badminton games at home is way better. However, I can’t say the same for sports like basketball and football.