Remembering Slemat Rakisan
Mr Slemat Rakisan, 57, was a big name in the national rugby scene. The former national player went on to be an inspirational coach to school students and players in the national squad, and was vice-president of the Singapore Rugby Union.
Sadly, Mr Rakisan was killed in what could be described as a horrific freak accident while riding his motorbike on the Kranji Expressway on Thursday (March 16).
A tyre that had fallen off a trailer in the opposite lane bounced across the road divider and hit Mr Rakisan and his motorcycle. He died at the scene.
The dashboard video recording of the accident, taken from a trailing car, has been circulating online. You can see the video here (Warning: Graphic Content): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FtdND-ezXY
Mr Rakisan was an extraordinary citizen, to say the least. He was himself a national rugby player, having represented the nation back in 1978.
Here’s a photo of him (3rd from left, in blue and red jersey) in a game:
Upon hanging up his boots, he became the epitome of a mentor, coaching schools and the National Development Squad, and playing a key role in the founding of the police rugby team.
An article by AsiaOne described how as their only coach for 4 years, he single-handedly transformed the fledgling rugby team at Junyuan Secondary School. In 2010, its under-17 team won the title for the lower-rung plate division for the second year in a row.
Some of his Junyuan charges ended up playing for the national team.
He also played a leading role in sports administration. Not only was he vice-president of the Singapore Rugby Union, he also served as president of the Singapore Society of Rugby Union Referees.
As though his contributions to local rugby weren’t enough, he even gave rugby tips for free on his blog.
Mr Rakisan’s death also comes at a hard time for the rugby society, as ruggers mourned the loss of former national rugby captain Mr Amran Mohammad two months ago.
Mr Amran had been a close friend of Mr Rakisan’s, with the latter rounding the ex-ruggers up for Mr Amran’s funeral.
Here’s Mr Amran (back row, 2nd from left) with his rugby pals:
An inspirational figure like Mr Rakisan does not simply rise to success without hard work and impeccable character. The respect and affection his students and peers have for him is evident from the vast number of tributes that were paid to him online.
Mr Muhammad Yazid Rosli, who trained under Mr Rakisan as a sub coach in Junyuan Secondary School, recounted on Facebook an occasion where he accompanied Mr Rakisan to Malaysia to collect jerseys and their car broke down. They returned to Singapore empty-handed, but had a good laugh.
Mr Rosli’s fond memories of spending time with Mr Rakisan during what might be a mundane event shows how much his players enjoyed being with him.
But there’s more to Mr Rosli’s story. This is what his junior Stephanus Neo said: “So basically my senior after NS wanted to do coaching so he came back to his alma mater.
“Then he met my coach there. So my coach knew he was starting out, and my coach being the same ol’ very giving person, decided to let my senior help out to gain some experience and even paid my senior with his own salary.”
An exceptional mentor indeed.
Many More Tributes
There were many other tributes to Mr Rakisan online, for example this one from Shawn Ng on Facebook:
And these posted by former players on Instagram:
Former journalist Suresh Nair said he was “lost for words” in a Facebook post and hailed him in an article for Sports247.
The Singapore Rugby Union also posted a short tribute:
This guy had the most succinct but just as heartfelt post on Facebook:
Gone Too Soon
From the tributes, we can see that Mr Rakisan touched many lives both as a rugby coach and player. He will be sorely missed by the rugby community and will be fondly remembered for the gem he is.
We send our condolences to his family, friends, players and everyone he has touched.
Those who want to pay their respects can check out the Facebook profile of his nephew Syed Mohamed Alkaff.
Thank you for your contributions to Singapore and rest in peace, Mr Rakisan. You were gone too soon.
Featured image from Facebook