Thursday, 28 May 2015

[Straits Times] LionsXII win not enough for long-term boost to football

MR JEFF Tan Hong Liak suggests that an SG50 friendly game between the LionsXII and an S-League selection team at the National Stadium will bring back the Kallang Roar and drive Singapore to become a regional powerhouse ("LionsXII win a boost to S'pore football"; yesterday).
Unfortunately, it will take more than that to lift the local game out of the doldrums. Winning the Malaysian FA Cup keeps interest in Singapore football alive only for a short while.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) must take the lead in rejuvenating the game through development programmes in schools and S-League clubs.
Interest in the S-League needs to be urgently revived, as it provides talents for our national team. We need elected officials in the FAS to provide consistent leadership and fresh ideas.
Singapore's small population of 3.3 million citizens has often been cited as the reason for our lack of success in the region. However, a similarly sized country like Uruguay, with its 3.4 million inhabitants, finished fourth at the 2010 World Cup.
The difficulty in attracting local players with the ability to turn professional lies in the fact that the game does not pay well enough to make it a feasible career. Remuneration must be raised considerably, and this can be done only by making the S-League a first-class entertainment option for soccer fans, so that the income generated can support the whole infrastructure.
The old National Stadium is synonymous with the Kallang Roar. Unfortunately, for a corporation like SportsHub Pte Ltd, developing local football talent may not be high on its agenda.
With tickets for some exhibition football games selling for up to $180, most local fans are priced out of the National Stadium. They have been replaced by well-heeled but emotionally detached spectators, who come to soak up the atmosphere - not to support our national team.
If things remain status quo, interest in local football will go into steep decline, along with the fortunes of our national team.
Edmund Khoo Kim Hock