Quite often in Singapore, basketball enthusiasts looking to play a game on their neighbourhood hard courts will find a ring without proper netting, either due to wear and tear or a lack of maintenance.
Thanks to a selfless elderly man known as Uncle Chen, this isn’t the experience of players who frequent a basketball court near Punggol Community Centre.
For almost eight years, the elderly man has taken it upon himself to ensure that the metal nets attached to the basketball rims in the court are well-maintained.
Armed with a ladder that he painstakingly carries from his home nearby, and a metal chain he purchased with his own money, he personally maintains the net by climbing up to reach the basketball rim which is almost 10 feet high.
His thoughtful deed was witnessed by one Hiu Guorong, who shared about the encounter on Facebook last Saturday. The basketball coach wrote: “It took him around an hour to get it done, and he’s not being paid (to do) all these labour. Doing these at this age can be dangerous.”
The Facebook post has since garnered more than 1,000 shares and 700 reactions. A similar post on Hiu’s Instagram has attracted more than 1,600 likes.
Hiu told The Pride that he had been conducting a coaching session for some kids at the basketball court located near Punggol Community Centre on Saturday morning when he saw Uncle Chen staring at the net with a helmet on.
Curious at the sight, Hiu went to chat with the elderly man, whom he described as being in his 70s, and eventually found out about his intentions.
“I was touched by what he has been doing and he does it without expecting any gratification or reward from others,” Hiu said. The 34-year-old explained that the basketball net is important as it helps players to distinguish between a missed shot and a converted shot.
Hiu shared in his post that Uncle Chen makes a living by selling drinks to people who play at the court. Upon finding out what he has been doing in the past eight years, Hiu bought some drinks without hesitation.
“I hope my post can help to generate more awareness about what he does, and also get more people to patronise him and help him generate more income so he can support his family,” he explained.
With Hiu’s post going viral, netizens have been quick to praise Uncle Chen for his efforts.
Latiff Redondoboy II wrote: “This uncle has just proven that there is still hope for everyone to live in harmony. Happy if everyone learns to take care of each other… If I see him around, I’ll definitely support him.”
Another offered an eco-friendly idea for how to support Uncle Chen.
“Collect and recycle the bottles bought from him too. Change it for cash, then give it to him as a donation to support him for all his efforts,” wrote Suz MacDonald.