For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Friday, November 06, 2020

Don't Piss Us Off With Those "YO-YO" Again

Recently, saw a few postings on social media reminiscing SAFFC's last Singapore Cup win in year 2012.

While this may not be the last major honour clinched by the most successful club in Singapore professional football history (the club, renamed as Warriors FC in 2013, captured their last S.League title in season 2014), it signified the end of a successful era led by the then head coach Richard Bok .

I shall not list down what Coach Bok had achieved when he took over the head coaching role of the Warriors in 2006, as this is not the theme of this post.

The fall guy from the top - Warriors FC 

The theme of this post is to ask the same old question to any of those "sit out" clubs after they made known their intention to return to the fold - "ARE YOU SURE OR NOT?"

This came after the Warriors started off by stated their intention to make their way back to the Singapore Premier League (SGPL) in 2021 after being asked to sit out this season to sort out their financial woes.

PISSED OFF
Honestly speaking, having witnessed clubs who claimed to have sort out their financial woes and returned but only to see themselves sit out again years later due to the same issue is kind of pissing me off (pardon for the choice of word but this is best word to describe that feeling).

It boils down to the same question that if they were ready, as they claimed, and why they had to sit out again years later after they returned because of the same predicament?

BULLS AND JAGS "YO-YO" IN AND OUT
Gombak United first joined in 1998 before dropped out after the end of the 2002 S.League season and made a comeback in 2006 and stayed untill the end of season 2012.

Likewise, Tanjong Pagar United stablized their financial footing and was granted the licence to play in this season's SGPL after excused themselves for the second time at the end of the 2015 S.League season.

Tanjong Pagar United is back (again) in the top-tier this season

So when Warriors seemingly confidently staked their claim for a possible return next season, I was not really that excited at all given the magnitude of the problems this supposedly illustrious club facing.

NEED SOMETHING MORE TANGIBLE
Ready to return is more than just making postings on their social media platforms to bring us down to the memory lane to reminisce the club's past achievements, it should be more than that and something more tangible to cement the cause.

If the targeted timeframe is to see the club return to the fold next year, is front office of this football club back and running by now to facilitate the process (would be glad to be corrected), even though we are not sure if a proposed meeting with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) had taken place or not?

The legacy of SAFFC is etched on local football folklore 

It is mind-boggling to think the groundwork will only be started after the green light is given.

Recruiting will be more than just the players and coaches but those backroom staff too and what about the rekindle of the community outreach program to tell their fans they are coming back?

If all these are possible within a matter of few months before the start of the season 2021, it should be yet another amazing tale.

However, if Warriors FC decided on a proper roadmap to the reinstatement is necessary, it should be lauded for its meticulous planning to avoid the repetition of those "yo-yo" syndromes in the past.

Some fans may think the possibility of the returning of Warriors FC is a mean to replace Brunei DPMM, a suggestion which is unlikely as FAS president Lim Kia Tong reaffirmed the sultanate club is an "integrated part" of the SGPL in a recent statement.

Just put it this way, if our clubs are properly managed and behave professionally in the first place, do we have to see this "yo-yo" syndrome all along? 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

DPMM - YES or NO?

The waiting game is still ongoing for sure and we have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Had it came to one's mind as in why this issue has been dragging on and in spite of the "deadline" on 12th October that should see DPMM made their decision on their fate in Singapore Premier League?

Because of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, it's clear that the decision on whether DPMM's continuation in SGPL is not longer purely a footballing matter.

DPMM recontracting ceremony in January 2018

When matter like this occurred, it's obvious that external parties are now, likely, to have a bigger say on this matter like how the relevant authorities gave the go-ahead to see the SGPL resumption on 17/10.

But the bigger concern is - will SGPL go ahead with the resumption on 17/10 with this DPMM uncertainty? Don't forget 25th October is scheduled to see DPMM take on Hougang United at Hougang Stadium, are they ready?

Since it was already made known in the media that unlike the rest of the teams who resumed their full training since 1st of September, the defending champions have yet to do so and only being permitted to train in groups of 10 since August.

DPMM won the Singapore top-tier league title on two occasions

While the oil-rich sultanate's only professional football club is allowed to resume partial training, the rest of the country's major football activities, such as the Brunei Super League (BSL), have been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

Furthermore, the reciprocal green lane established between Singapore and Brunei since 1st of September will only allows "limited number" of residents of both countries travel in between under strict regulations could be seen as a challenging issue to overcome at this juncture.

A decision on this must be swift and decisive at this point if the decision makers do not want to see the SGPL escalate into another uncertainty.

It is a YES or NO, that is it!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Sailors Wasting No Time To Establish Themselves With This AFC Recognition

(This entry is formulated based on the media release issued by Lion City Sailors Football Club, all media materials used in this post belong to LCSFC and LCS Football Academy, unless stated)


Since launching itself as the first privatized professional football club in Singapore, Lion City Sailors (LCSFC) has been making significant efforts to project itself as the torch bearer in local football.

Competing in the top tier AIA Singapore Premier League, the Sailors boasted themselves with an impressive star-studded side which is further strengthen with the recruitment of prolific Croatian striker Stipe Plazibat from Hougang United weeks ago.

However, it is the youth development wing of the club bankrolled by billionaire Forrest Li making the heads turned recently.

LCS Football Academy is based at Mattar Road

$1 MILLION SCHOLARSHIP AND $10 MILLION TRAINING FACILITIES

First on the list was the launch of the $1 million Elite Development Programme (EDP) scholarship by the club's LCS Football Academy back in June that will see the implementation of a four-year programme with aims to give Singapore’s top young talent a pathway to fulfil their potential.

Following that, LCSFC is planning to build a $10 million training facilities to accommodate all their training programmes by 2022, as reported by The Straits Times.

Earlier of the day, in a media statement issued by the club it was announced LCS Football Academy was endorsed by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as a "One-Star academy".

"ONE-STAR ACADEMY" RECOGNITION BY AFC
According to the said media statement, the LCS Football Academy earned the accolade after they met the criteria outlined by the regional football governing body’s Elite Youth Scheme which targetted at lifting development programmes in AFC member nations.

The 20-point audit criteria of the AFC's Elite Youth Scheme include: leadership and vision, planning, organisation, facilities, as well as player-centric factors such as welfare, psychology and education.

LCS hopes to unearth more talents through its EDP scholarship

With the LCS Football Academy's endorsement as a "One-Star academy" by AFC, it was revealed that this was a key factor in the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) passing AFC’s 11-point evaluation criteria and recognised as a full member of the Elite Youth Scheme.

"The FAS was evaluated on the first 10 categories ranging from facilities to sport science and competitions. But the 11th category – the existence of at least one One-Star academy – was the critical factor that determined whether it would be recognized as a full member or a provisional member of the Scheme." said the club in the same statement.

FAS TD PALATSIDES HOPES TO DOMINO EFFECT FROM THIS 
Also in the same statement, FAS Technical Director (TD) Joseph Palatsides shares his thoughts in lauding the role played by the LCS Football Academy in this regional recognition.

“The membership signifies that AFC, the governing body of Asia, has given their seal of approval for FAS’ Youth Development plans. It is affirmation that we are headed in the right direction to improve Singapore football,” said the 54-year-old Palatsides who replaced Michel Sablon as FAS TD last May.

With LCS Football Academy having set the benchmark for academies here, Palatsides hopes that this will bring about a domino effect in the local footballing ecosystem, with other academies in Singapore following suit.

A vision that is concurred by Tan Li Yu, LCS Football Academy General Manager.

Said Tan:“We were in constant communication with the FAS during the process of AFC audits, and the open approach to working hand-in-hand for the improvement of Singapore football and LCS Football Academy will continue to do its part for our football ecosystem.”

EDP SCHOLARS TO START TRAINING AFTER PSLE
Despite missed out the "Two-Star grade" due to the lack of more specialist staff in their programmes and processes, the Academy Director Luka Lalic mentioned "the next steps are already being taken".

“We were informed that the Academy missed out on the Two-Star grade because we have yet to involve more specialist staff in our programmes and processes. But this is part of our phased improvement plans, and we will be ready with that soon. In the meantime, we haven’t been resting on our laurels, our team has been working hard behind the scenes,” said the Serbian. 

LCS Football Academy Director Luka Lalic

Providing an update on the EDP scholarship programme, Lalic said the first batch of the scholars are already on board and the full training program will start upon the completion of the PSLE exams.

“We are excited to have them grow in the Academy, with Academy, as we move to put in place plans that are part of our phased approach to becoming an elite development hub,” added Lalic, who was Feyenoord Rotterdam’s Head of Methodology, International Development Coach, before joining the academy in June.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Mere Case of Misapprehension?

INTRODUCTION 
This is a follow up blog entry to discuss a few points which were discovered along the way during the compilation of earlier post on the plan to send Leong Hoi Meng and Foo Hee Jong to Leeds United for a try out in early 1950. 

It is advisable to read the above-mentioned blog post (click here) before proceed to the article below.

THE EARLIEST PRESS REPORTS
Along the way while compiling the details of this overlooked futile attempt to send both Leong Hoi Meng and Foo Hee Jong to Leeds United for a trial in early 1950, there were some interesting discoveries which would make us ponder over a thing or two. 

On 5th October 1949, Malaya Tribune reported a "professional soccer scout" from United Kingdom talent spotted eleven footballers, ten from Singapore and one player from Selangor. 

The eleven players were: Leong Hoi Meng, Lim Tiang Chye, Wee Hoon Leong, Lim Eng Siang, Ho Hin Weng, Foo Hee Jong, Tan Chye Hee, Samad Yusoff, Ahmat Yusoff, Chia Boon Leong and Selangor's (Edwin) Dutton. 

This Tribune story wrote that an agent had been appointed by this scout to sign those scouted players who were to be offered a one-year contract to play professional football in England with an initial payment of $5,000 and a weekly wages between £8 to £12. 

Malaya Tribune report on 5/10/1949 (NLB archive)

A few of the shortlisted players were approached by the agent but were either turned down the opportunity or gave a thought over it when being offered. 

This Tribune article did not divulge the identity of this scout who wanted to remain anonymous but dropped a hint at the end of the piece by stated "Colony soccer enthusiasts have seen the Scout. Guess his identity if you can." 

A similar article was published by The Straits Times (ST) on the same day as the Tribune's which revealed more information of the scout. 

The Straits Times report on 5/10/1949 (NLB archive)

It mentioned the scout was a "Services officer" serving in Singapore during that period and talent spotted the same list of mentioned players and claimed to represent clubs in northern England. 

By comparing details of both Tribune and ST articles of October 1949 with the January 1950's ST article that broke the news of Leeds United's interest on Leong and Foo, the thing in common was the list of the eleven players that appeared in the aforementioned three articles.

It is likely to presume the "scout" in question could be Major AJR Hooper, as what he addressed himself in the letter he sent to ST (published in 20th January 1950) to explain in detail of the unsuccessful attempt to send Leong and Foo to Yorkshire, and the "agent" appointed by him was the late "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee. 

It was, indeed, the January 1950's ST article first mentioned Hooper was the man who scouted the eleven players with Choo named as the agent of the former in the whole facilitation.

The Straits Times report on 4/1/1950 (NLB archive)

MISAPPREHENSION?
And so here is the question to ponder: 

In his explanation letter to ST, Hooper claimed Choo had a "misapprehension" that he was a scout of a football club when he received a letter from the latter stated there were a few players to keen to play for "his club". 

But the chain of events since the publication of both Malayan Tribune and ST articles in October 1949 to January 1950's ST revelation of Leeds United's interest on both Leong and Foo suggested could there be a "misapprehension", as well, on the journalists' part who covered the story? 

The fact being the list of eleven players were identical when appeared in the aforementioned articles on separate occasions stated they were scouted by one unnamed "professional soccer scout" who claimed to represent clubs in northern England before Hooper's name appeared months later in January 1950 thus led to some confusions.

The legendary "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee (as credited)

However, the whole episode of having a scout making offers to play professionally in post-war England which resulted a "misapprehension" saw the fruitless end to this incident that shall remain as one of the unsolved mysteries in local football given the contradicting accounts from available resources.

Following that earlier mentioned letter by Major Hooper in January 1950, there was no other input from other parties involved in the press (which I hope I did not overlook any during the compilation).

And given the coverage of this news when it first broke out in 1950, it was a pity that Leong did not shed some lights on this incident in his August 1975 interview with the now-defunct "New Nation",  it would have changed the way how things are to be interpreted now should he did.

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from online sources, as credited, should anyone feel it's inappropriate to have any of the media shown, please kindly email me as soon as possible and I will remove them upon request.)

(P.S 2: I stand to be corrected should there be any mistake in this entry, please feel free to email me if there is, thanks)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Friendly Fixtures - From Sing Tao to Juventus

We may not see the return of the International Champions Cup Singapore (ICCSG) tournament due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic but it is worthwhile to look back on some happenings that took place in the past when foreign teams came to our shores to play a few friendly matches.

The arrival of those marquee names in the world football to this dot of the globe in recent years has always been a crowd puller that not only drawn local fans from their couches from Jurong to Tampines and Woodlands to Bedok by making their way down to Kallang, the ICCSG, as it is commonly known as, has also been a lure for the regional supporters of those European clubs as well like how the Indonesian fans of Inter made their presence felt in their match against Chelsea in the 2017 edition.

Advertisement for Anchor Soccer Festival' 74 (NLB archive)
The trend of such visits by these foreign sides did not start during the 1970s when there were tournaments like the Anchor Soccer Festival in 1974 (source 1, 2) or the Caltex Cup in the 1990s which saw Arsenal versus Liverpool at the old National Stadium or visits by Manchester United in 1986 and 2001 (the Barthez incident).

Back in the colonial era, teams from British India (Bengal Gymkhana), Hong Kong, etc. were some of those who arrived in Singapore to play friendly matches either at the demolished Anson Road Stadium or the old Jalan Besar Stadium.

Hosting these visiting teams was an important assignment for the Singapore Amateur Football Association (SAFA, the precursor of Football Association of Singapore - FAS), as not only friendly fixtures like these were popular with the fans who would packed the stands to the rafters at some games and also it was a lucrative business for both the hosts (source 1, 2) and visitors (source 1, 2).
10,000 watched Singapore beat Sing Tao of Hong Kong (NLB archive)
According to some Hong Kong football journals, clubs like South China and Sing Tao were some of the frequent visitors to Singapore and Malaya during those days to see teams from "Pearl of the Orient" to play a series of friendly matches against the local sides.

Such end-of-season tours were termed as "Southern Excursion" by these Hong Kong clubs where players were entitled to some cuts from gate earnings (despite their amateur status) from matches played during the visits.

Many local fans viewed players of these Hong Kong teams as star footballers and were popular especially among the local Chinese fans, so it was not uncommon to see games against these touring sides a guarantee sellout whenever they took place.

Being a golden goose venture for them, it was said that the touring sides would assigned their reserve players as "lookout" at turnstiles to prevent the local match organizers from any mischief that would jeopardize their revenue from these games (source: 「球員的背景和待遇」chapter of 「足球王國:戰後初期的香港足球」)

Caroline Hill FC team photo taken at the old National Stadium (as credited)
Local teams also frequently toured around the region during those days by taking part in tournaments like the Ho Ho Cup which involved the Malayan Chinese and their Hong Kong counterparts.

However, since 1970s to the early 1980s, visits by the Hong Kong club sides to Singapore were less frequent as compared to the pre and post wars years with notable sides like Seiko SA and Caroline Hill stamped their passports in June 1974 and September 1980 respectively.

Geylang International vs Persija Jakarta in February 2020 (credit: Geylang International)
When the local football league system was revamped in the mid-1970s that saw the creation of the National Football League (NFL), the FAS felt it was necessary to enforce some guidelines to ensure clubs would prioritized their commitments to both the NFL and the President's Cup (the premier cup competition in those days) which resulted no friendly matches with foreign teams were allowed unless given the go-ahead by the local game governing body under the directive issued, as reported by the now-defunct "Singapore Soccer" monthly in their December 1975 issue.

Nonetheless, pre-season trips in recent years by our Singapore Premier League (SGPL) clubs to neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia have still proven to be a popular option for their preparation for a new season like Geylang International had theirs back in February to Indonesia.

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from sources like NLB online newspapers archives and others, as credited, should anyone feel it's inappropriate to have any of the media shown, please kindly email me as soon as possible and I will remove them upon request.)

(P.S 2: I stand to be corrected should there be any mistake in this entry, please feel free to email me if there is, thanks)

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