This year auspiciously marks 90 years since the birth of the ancestral forebear of the Old Paulians’ Association (OPA), the St. Paul’s Athletic Association (SPAA) in 1922. Even in those infancy days, the association portrayed a strong sense for Lasallian brotherhood including as its members both Paulians and Lasallians. In 1926, the association was formally registered and called the St Paul’s Old Boys’ Association (SPOBA). At this stage the aims of the association were expanded not only to encourage its members to participate in games and athletics, but also to cater for their social and cultural activities. During the Second World War, the association fell dormant. It was reactivated in 1948 through the efforts of Mr J R Santa Maria, Mr C A Pinto, and the late Mr Thong Ah Chong. The then District Officer for Seremban, Encik Bahaman bin Shamsuddin, became the association’s first President.
In 1949 the association hosted a Reunion Dinner and Dance for the first time with the aim of bringing together members and friends who had lost touch with each other during the war years. This tradition has become the glue that hold old Paulians’ together with recent events witnessing over a thousand old Paulians coming together from all over the world.
In 1952, SPOBA collaborated with the St Francis Association (Malacca) to form the La Sallian Association. The La Sallian Soccer Competition was introduced as way of keeping the camaraderie of Lasallians strong. The SPOBA was the proud champion for six consecutive years. This competition also brought the Old Boys of Christian Brothers (Singapore) and St John’s (Kuala Lumpur) together yearly. These events became the catalyst for the formation of the Christian Brothers Old Boys’ Association (CBOBA) by the late Mr P C M G Mahidas of Malacca. In 1983, the Federation of La Sallian Associations was formed with OPA as a founder member with the objective of bringing all ex-students of La Salle Institutions under one umbrella.
In 1970, the OPA Executive Council undertook the task of acquiring a club building for the Association. Due to a lack of funds the committee set up the first Club premises in a rented first floor of a shop house at No. 2, Market Lane, Seremban. Later, the club house was moved to No. 96, Jalan Birch (now known as Jalan Dato’ Bandar Tunggal), Seremban. At the 1972 AGM, the Association’s name was changed from SPOBA to the Old Paulians’ Association to welcome the inclusion of the female students of St Paul’s Institution Secondary as members. The association’s vision to own its very own building was finally realised in 1978 when OPA bought two adjoining double-storey terrace houses at Taman Labu Utama with the intention of converting them into one building for the club house. The Committee however decided to treat the buildings as investment and rented them out because they were completed before approval for clubhouse renovations were received.
The Association then sold these buildings to purchase a 4.842-acre piece of land in the Mukim of Rasah just outside the Seremban Municipality for more than RM200,000.00 for the purpose of putting up its Country Club House. Owing to the economic recession, this plan did not materialise. In 1995 the land was sold and the money was used to purchase a shop lot at No. 24, Jalan Yam Tuan, Seremban at a cost of RM300,000.00. Later, the building was demolished and in its place a three-storey building called Wisma OPA was constructed at a cost of RM345,000.00.
During the last decade, OPA has grown from strength to strength. More Paulians have enrolled as members and the relationship between the Alma Mater and the Association has, as always, been strongly bonded by the Paulian spirit. Today OPA is a vibrant and dynamic organisation that is extremely active in sports and games as depicted by the OPA Games Development programme, OPA sports carnival and the OPA Golf tournament, scholastics support through the Bro Felix Donohue Welfare Fund, the OPA Scholastic awards, and the Tan Sri Chan Choon Tak Award, and various fund raising projects for the development of SPI primary and secondary. It can proudly be said that the Old Paulians’ Association is one of the most progressive old boys’ associations in the country.