This collection represents the best stories entered for the D.K. Dutt Award for Literary Excellence in its inaugural year, and includes the winning piece by Hanna Alkaf, and by runners-up Marc de Faoite, Saras Manickam, and Tina Isaacs. There are also pieces by veteran sports writer Tony Mariadass and journalists Rehman Rashid and Lionel Yew.
Malaysian writers, both new and established, write about how sports bring out the best in us. There are stories about the personal growth that comes through overcoming enormous odds: a young man with cerebral palsy conquers the swimming pool; an aerobics enthusiast overcomes grinding poverty and the predictions of a fortune teller to make a career in sports; and a mother of two young sons overcomes the reluctance of a whole community to establish a ‘Football and Reading Club’ in the shade of a mighty tree.
But the darker side of the subject is also explored in these stories. A schoolboy faces bullying, and the culture of machismo on the football field; a national hero gets away with rape; and a golf course becomes the scene of a sniper attack when the man entrusted with the investigation of a national scandal turns up to play a round with his friends.
At every turn expectations are overturned: a young woman boxer wants to be seen as appealingly feminine; a childhood enthusiasm for ‘free’ football gives a Malaysian student the mental resources to steal a movie poster; and a man skilled in base jumping is haunted by the memory of a tragic death at every jump.
The book is a fitting memorial to a man who inspired so many others, both on the sports field and off.