Singapore - Football romantics the world over will undoubtedly be able to relate to the feeling of love at first sight experienced by Singapore native Lim Ying. The 16-year-old is an avid FC Schalke 04 fan, having instantly taken to the club after turning on her television in autumn 2008 to find they were playing.
“I was fascinated by the goals and Schalke’s attacks,” she said. Hailing from a football-crazy family, Ying is, by her own admission “the maddest of them all by now”.
She became hooked after her first sample of Royal Blue fandom and was eager to find out more, even reading up on Schalke’s history. Doing so “made the club even more interesting to me,” Ying explained. The teenager now watches almost all of Schalke’s games live on television, despite most Bundesliga matches kicking off at 22:30 local time - and some even in the middle of the night - due to the seven-hour time difference with Germany.
The lack of sleep has done nothing to dilute her passion, however. “I can remember every Schalke goal and all their highlights from this season,” she said. Football is a popular sport in Singapore, but Ying is the only member of her family who follows the Gelsenkirchen outfit: “I’m a blue dot in a sea of Manchester United fans.”
At the start of Ying’s Royal Blue romance, Manuel Neuer, Raul and Jefferson Farfan were her favourite players, although they have since been usurped by , and, in particular, : “He’s a great captain. I like the fact he’s been at Schalke for so long and that he’s always so passionate when he plays.”
Ying has never been to Germany but dreams of one day visiting the Veltins Arena. “I’d love to soak up the unbelievable atmosphere,” she said. “I’ve read so much about the fantastic Schalke fans. It must be an incredible experience.” A visit to Gelsenkirchen would not only fulfil her desire to watch a game first-hand, it would also give the aspiring architect the opportunity to study the stadium itself: “I’m fascinated by beautiful buildings and I’d love to be involved in constructing something great one day. Preferably a football stadium!”
Her love of all things Schalke has even extended to German cuisine. “My favourite food is Bratwurst and here in Singapore we have quite a few German restaurants that I can go to when I get a craving for it,” she said, despite her homeland having a reputation for fine dining, including the local specialty of Char Kway Teow (sauteed noodles with soya sauce and chili).
Yet her eating habits and choice of team are not all that make Ying such an extraordinary girl. Not only does she play football herself - an extremely unusual occurrence given the local customs - but she plays in a mixed team. Ying started out in goal but has since moved further up the pitch to midfield or attack. “I have to admit that I don’t have the best shot, but I’m a good passer,” she said. And come what may, she insists her support for Schalke will never waver: “My passion for the club is undying, regardless of what happens.”