Bend it like the Asian Rangers: intramural soccer team reunites after decades

September 13, 2019

The beautiful game brought them together as SFU students. Four decades later, they came back to Burnaby campus from across the world to celebrate their alma-mater and lifelong friendships.

The Asian Rangers were an SFU intramural soccer team formed predominantly by students from Malaysia and Hong Kong in 1975. During a successful decade-long run, the team welcomed players from Mauritius, Bahamas, Greece, Scotland, Tanzania and more. It brought them together and helped create a special bond among fellow students.

Following graduation, many players returned to Asia and kept in close contact. In early September, their dream to gather again at SFU came true as 23 team members reconnected in person, travelling from as far as New Zealand and Singapore, many with spouses and children in tow.

“We are home,” said reunion organizer Gerry Lim (BSc ’83), a resident of Malaysia who says the team “was like a family to me. It was a fantastic experience coming together.”

The credit goes to Jimmy Loke (BA ’79), a commerce student who founded the Asian Rangers as a way to play the game with other soccer enthusiasts.

“There was no real motivation, it was desperation,” Loke, also from Malaysia, explains. “When I came here I saw that the university is great but it’s isolated, it’s up on the hill. So you can’t go down to the park and kick about. I saw there was a gym and an intramural league so I started to invite people I had never met to come and join us... Low and behold we won that year!”

A strong community flourished off the field as players shared conversations, meals and social activities like going to the movies and the discotheque.

Together again on campus this month, Asian Rangers alumni picked up right where they left off. After a quick game of soccer in the gym, they discussed their families and careers and shared vivid memories of their SFU days—recounting great games played, dances, their mutual affection for the music of Queen, and the challenges of deciphering Bee Gees’ lyrics long before there was Google.

“Life was simpler then,” says Loke. “In the old days, we didn’t have connections, we didn’t have mobile phones. We needed to bond. We met a lot of people from diverse cultures, not only just Asians, and we had to interact. Nowadays, you stick to your cliques, to your group chats and you don’t get out of your comfort zone. Hopefully some [people] might learn from us.”

Raymond Wong (BA ’81), who lives in New Zealand, credits his student experience for helping him become more independent and a better decision maker. He says it felt “electrifying” being back on campus with friends, noting how much has changed.

It’s these lifelong friendships, these bonds between students, and a collective dedication to their alma mater that has helped shape SFU over the years.   

“It’s wonderful seeing what Simon Fraser has achieved,” Wong says. “I’m so proud.”