Family of Kinabalu victim visits White Hart Lane
Attending a football match might not sound like an ideal way to help one deal with a death in the family.
But for Mr Jaidip Jhala and his wife Karen, a trip to north London to watch their beloved Tottenham Hotspur in the flesh proved to be a memorable experience to honour the memory of their daughter Sonia.
Spurs-mad Sonia was one of the seven Tanjong Katong Primary School pupils who died on Mount Kinabalu when an earthquake struck Sabah in June. She was 12.
While the English Premier League (EPL) side extended their condolences to the family through a personally signed letter from manager Mauricio Pochettino in the aftermath, Tottenham – in conjunction with AIA and the Singapore Spurs – went one step further and brought Mr and Mrs Jhala over to England to catch their first-ever Spurs game against Stoke City last Saturday (Aug 15).
The club's in-house TV station documented their visit to the club in a nine-minute video, which can be watched in full on the club's official website.
Mr Jhala revealed that the trip fulfilled the promise he had made to his daughter to watch a match at Spurs' home at White Hart Lane before the iconic ground was demolished to make way for a new stadium.
He told Spurs TV: "For us to be here in her honour is exciting, but it's very emotional and poignant for me.
"It's going to be very, very difficult for me to watch the new EPL season because she was my buddy."
The family was treated to a tour of the Lane, where Mr Jhala got to meet his modern-day Spurs hero and ex-captain, Ledley King.
A starstruck Mr Jhala had his eyes filled with tears when he met ex-Spurs captain Ledley King. PHOTO: SPURS TV
While Sonia wasn't there with them in person, Mr and Mrs Jhala were sure that their daughter was there with them in spirit.
Ahead of the game, Mrs Jhala said: "(Sonia) would've loved to have been here as well and I believe that she is here in spirit with us.
"She would be going berserk and one of her favourite things when she got excited was that she would pinch her daddy – it was her way of controlling her excitement.
"And I'm sure that's what she would be doing if she was here right now. She would be pinching daddy all the time."
PHOTO: SPURS TV
While Stoke scored a last-ditch equaliser to deny Tottenham a win as the tie ended 2-2, the experience left an indelible mark in the minds of Mr and Mrs Jhala.
They even managed to get photographs with new signing Clinton Njie and current captain Jan Vertonghen, who also gave Mr Jhala his autograph.
PHOTO: SPURS TV
"No words can describe what we have gone through and we'll treasure it for the rest of our lives," said Mr Jhala.
"It is exactly what it looks like on the TV for us to be here, listening to the crowd, singing the songs.
"It's been overwhelming for me and it shows a lot about the club. We're really grateful."