Monday, 13 April 2015

[Straits Times] Sad state of Singapore football

THE recent spate of poor results among various age groups of Singapore footballers have raised alarm bells among fans ("Draws are no win-win situation"; April 2). But should we be surprised?

Singapore rejoined the Malaysia Cup in recent years in order to raise severely dwindling fans' interest and funds. Then we saw our top talent drawn away to play in the lower leagues because they have the resources to pay for our players.

In the meantime, we imposed age restrictions (although since revoked) in our own S-League because there were not enough jobs for many aspiring young players. Yet, we provided for spots for five foreigners per team.

We hear You'll Never Walk Alone sung proudly by a whole stadium filled with Singaporeans ("Ex-Reds turn back the clock"; Nov 16, 2014).

We go to our new Sports Hub to see mostly local Juventus fans cheering against our own team ("Juve give stadium touch of class"; Aug 17, 2014).

We merged clubs in the name of increasing our competitiveness. Yet, our S-League clubs failed to punch above their weight and our Warriors FC fell to a lowly club from Mauritius, while Buriram United from Thailand reached the Asian Champions League quarter-final in 2013.

Ironically, the most famous Singaporean football personality to the world may be the infamous Wilson Raj Perumal, who was imprisoned for corrupting the game ("The Singapore scourge in global match-fixing"; June 21, 2014).

Boldly stating the hard truth after a disappointing performance by his Singapore Under-22 side, coach Richard Bok stated that with results like this, there are "no positives to talk about" ("Other teams have caught up with Singapore, says Bok"; April 1).

His words could apply to all aspects of local football.

Tan Hwee Heng