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."

Saturday, March 21, 2020

After Those Embarrassments, Let's Reach Out Together ...

It's regrettable that recently on two separate occasions some prominent local social media icons used the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak as a theme of their humour to mock at the expense of local football.

Subsequently, the postings from these social media icons had removed following feedback from local football supporters who registered their opinions on them.

The first thing came to my mind was how much does these social media icons know about local football to use it as a subject to poke fun with?

FIRST POSTING
Apparently, one appeared to be zilch when the name "S League" was used in the posting using an old picture from an S.League match courtesy of one local news outlet.

If the aforementioned posting was referring to the local professional football league, the person who may not be aware that the league had rebranded and inaugurated as "Singapore Premier League" (SGPL) in 2018 by President Halimah Yacob at the National Stadium (two seasons already).

President Halimah Yacob (fourth from left) inaugurated the SGPL in March 2018
Eventually, the person behind that post realized that "oversight" and "gave a pat on the shoulder" on local football after a picture from the recent SGPL match between Tanjong Pagar United and Lion City Sailors at Jurong East Stadium were shared by this platform as a reply to the original twitter posting.

SECOND POSTING
Just as we thought the saga was put behind, a similar posting was posted up days later by the company which first started out telling Singaporeans one of their favourite sauces provided by a fast-food chain was out of stock.

The response to the second posting was fast and furious with a number of supporters groups and fans flooded their replies with photo evidence to counter the picture of an empty Jalan Besar Stadium used by the said company.

The launch of the SGPL at the Singapore Sports Hub in March 2018
The reaction from these fans seems to be overwhelming that the posting was removed shortly after it was posted.

The removal of the post in question did not appease some in the local football fraternity who followed up with various number of the social media posts by tagging the name of the company in their updates which mostly depicted the colours and sights generated by supporters at the stand.

NEGATIVITY - STIGMA OF LOCAL FOOTBALL
At the time of uploading this blog post, there is no reaction or whatsoever from the said company even though there is no obligation for them to do so but on the other hand, this unpleasant episode protruded the stigma that had long associated with local football - negativity.

It is because the negative image of the local game has etched on general public's mindset that any effort, good or bad, will be ridiculed before even given a chance to prove whether it is workable or not.

The correct form to write the name is to add a dot between the "S" and the "LEAGUE"
Things can't be helped either when Singapore football have been blemished with undesired publicity in the recent years that the stigma remains like a tattoo on the skin and proved to be a challenge to change the general mindset overnight.

Perhaps with these recent unintended interactions between the local football community and these social media icons, opportunities can be explored to see if both sides can work together to promote local game but ultimate aim is through these social media icons to reach out to a wider audience to have a better understanding of Singapore soccer.

The ball at anyone's court now for a brain storming session?

Thursday, March 05, 2020

"Our Unity Is Our Strength"

(This entry is formulated by the media release issued by Tanjong Pagar United Football Club)

The logo of TPUFC (credit)
Having stabilized the club's finances during their sit-out period with measures such as prudent budgeting which allowed them to reduce their debts and accrue savings that saw them received the nod to be back at the highest echelon of Singapore's football pyramid, staying financially viable remains one of the utmost priorities as Tanjong Pagar United is set to embark their unfinished journey they left behind in 2015.

In a media statement released to the media a day prior to their first Singapore Premier League (SGPL) match against Lion City Sailors at Jurong East Stadium, club chairman Raymond Tang added another challenge of the Jaguars is to stay competitive in the nine-team league.

Said Tang:“Our squad is a blend of experience and youth. We did not fill our team with plenty of star names but our players are humble, hungry and hardworking..., now our challenge is to be a competitive team and stay financially viable.”

Indeed, a glance at the team roster provided by the club in the said media statement saw 10 players of the 21-man squad aged 23 or younger with a number of those, however, are seasoned campaigners in the local professional scene such as team captain and Lions defender Faritz Hameed who joined the team from Home United, ex-Hougang United midfider Raihan Rahman was signed from Balestier Khalsa with 28-year-old Delwinder Singh returning to the club where he started his senior career back in 2011.

Raihan Rahman is one of the club's signings for the campaign (file)
Entrusting the task to lead the team in this new campaign is 46-year-old Hairi Su'ap who will be making his coaching debut at the top-tier level of the Republic's soccer scene, the former Yishun Sentek Mariners gaffer will be assisted by former Geylang International head coach Hasrin Jailani with ex-Singapore striker Noh Alam Shah named as the team manager of the club.

On top of that, Tanjong Pagar also recruited two Brazilians and two Japanese players to fill up their import quota for the coming season.

No stranger in this region, former Brazil U-17 striker Luiz Carlos Junior plied his trade last season with Sabah FA in the Malaysian league and turned out for Persija Jakarta and Madura United in Indonesia back in 2017, his compatriot 20-year-old Yann Motta will be filling up the U-21 foreigner slot together with defender Takahiro Tanaka and midfider Shodai Nishikawa who used to play for Rudar Pljevlja and FK Kom in the Montenegrin league.

Noh Alam Shah (black outfit) is the Jaguars' team manager (file)
Despite the short preparation period given to them, Coach Hairi is happy with the positive attitude shown by his players during their pre-season trainings

“I can feel that they all want to prove their worth.” said former SAFFC defender “Even though there are no easy fixtures in the S(G)PL and we can expect a tough game every round, we are committed to playing attacking football. Our squad is not the deepest but every player can contribute. Our unity is our strength.”

Saturday, February 29, 2020

"Matchpix" - November 2019, February 2020

  • Singapore Cup Final - Tampines Rovers 4-3 Warriors FC 021119
Tampines' players in jubilant mood
Tampines Rovers claimed their fourth in history and first Singapore Cup win since 2006 after defeated Warriors Football Club 4-3 in nail-biting final at the Jalan Besar Stadium. The two last met in the final of the same competition in 2012 and saw Warriors (then known as SAFFC) walked away with the Cup on a 2-1 scoreline.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • AFC Cup - Tampines Rovers 2-1 PSM Makassar 120220
Stags celebrate after another Boris Kopitovic's strike
Tampines Rovers Football Club kept Singapore football's flag flying proudly after beating PSM Makassar 2-1 in their AFC Cup Group H opener at JBS last night (12/2). Goals from Jordan Webb and Boris Kopitovic were enough to seal the win for the Stags in front of 1266 fans.

Ferdinand Alfred Sinaga reduced the deficit for the guests in the 67th minute after Kopitovic's low driver three minutes earlier gave the hosts a two-goal cushion.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • Friendly - Lion City Sailors 4-0 Singapore Football Club 150220
LCS' Andy Pengelly (9) couldn't get past SFC's 'keeper Yazid Yasin 
New signing Gabriel Quak scored the first goal to give LCSFC a goal advantage before the interval and added his second after the break, Shahril Ishak came on in the second half to add his brace.

The newly-formed club assumes the ownership of the club formerly known as Home United and is the first privatized club of the AIA Singapore Premier League under the pilot project initiated by both Football Association of Singapore and Sea.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • AFC Cup - Hougang Utd 2-3 Ho Chi Minh City FC 250220
Nguyễn Công Phượng (21) ripped Cheetahs apart with his pace
"Vietnamese Messi" Nguyễn Công Phượng (jersey number 21) taught Hougang United an AFC Cup lesson the latter will never forget as his exploits single-handedly helped Ho Chi Minh City F.C. to beat their hosts 3-2 at JBS.

The Vietnamese were dominating for large part of the game before Croatian striker Stipe Plazibat's double in the 77th and 79th minute helped the home side to reduce the deficit.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Move Out From Home to a Wider City?

I would say the assuming of ownership of the club formerly known as Home United Football Club (HUFC) by Sea, a leading internet company, shall be seen as a breakthrough in the local football fraternity.

The logo of Lion City Sailors (via LCSFC)
The idea of privatization of the Republic's professional football league has always been in the pipeline with little tangible progress till the official announcement was made in the early morning of the Valentine's Day.

"OWNERSHIP" - A NEW CLEAR INDICATION
The word "ownership" mentioned in the press release issued by the official sources is a clear indication to see newly-formed Lion City Sailors (LCSFC) to operate under a new business model that is going to set itself apart from the rest of the local Singapore Premier League (SGPL) clubs.

According to an online search with ACRA Bizfile portal, LCSFC is registered as a "private limited" whereas the other local clubs are "society" registered with Ministry of Home Affairs which licenses are granted to run jackpot operations.

On top of that, LCSFC opted not to receive subsidies from Tote board, which is disbursed by Sport Singapore to offset operational costs of SGPL clubs, since it is now an 100% private entity funded solely by Sea.

(L-R): Forrest Li, Chairman of LCSFC; Lim Kia Tong, President of the FAS; Winston Wong, Chairman of HUFC (LCSFC)
Gabriel Quak (14) is one of the high profile signings by LCSFC 
Prior to the Valentine's Day's announcement, LCSFC already made known of their ambition by making some high profile recruitments both on and off the field, as reported in the media.

"Apart from the club’s on-field ambitions on the domestic and continental fronts, we aim to lead the way in raising the level of football in Singapore, with the senior team right through to the grassroots level." said Badri Ghent, the general manager of LCSFC.

"We will endeavour to build upon the robust foundations laid by HUFC and establish ourselves as the foremost club in Singapore in terms of operations, governance, and community engagement." added Ghent in a statement issued alongside with the aforementioned press release.

The change of the name, however, did not go down too well with some fans and according to a report by Yahoo News Singapore, Home United "will be dissolved within the year".

LCS' IDENTITY CRISIS?
While acknowledged the move is with good intend, a soccer fan expressed his saddness to see the fate of the Protectors following the privatization.

"Just saddens me to see the history of Home United being wiped off in an instance." shared Rk Roland in a comment posted on this platform's Facebook Page of the announcement.

Some other concerns he mentioned included how LCSFC is able to shape its identity and related itself with the community, supposedly with the Bishan residents and if the club will change its name back to "Home United" if Sea decided to relinquish the ownership of the club in the future.

The privatization move was first mentioned last October (file)
Community engagement is always a tricky business for most SGPL clubs and even after more than two decades of professionalism, many clubs are still struggling to fuse themselves into the community fabrics of the vicinities they are located despite being one of the key emphases.

By opted for name that usually synonymous with Singapore, would that mean LCSFC is going widen up its fan base to four corners of the island rather than staying put in its perceived catchment area of Bishan?

PRIVATIZATION FIRST MENTIONED LAST OCTOBER
Only time will tell besides how this privatization move will alter the landscape of the local scene Iike what Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong said in his opening speech during the last October's "FAS Nite".

"... Such development and initiatives, we believe, will bring positive change to the professional football landscape in particular and the Singapore’s football landscape in general." said the FAS supremo at the year-end gala event last October when he first mentioned the possible fruition of this game changing move.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Between The "Two of Them"

Preface
I was thinking if was it possible to come up with two separate blog posts or should I put everything together to consolidate into one given the scarcity of the materials? Even though they shared some connections along the way for having an intertwined history, yet had to go separate ways after some evolution along the way.

The old logo of MCFA (left) and the logo of SCFA (right)
After much deliberations, I decided to put everything I gathered on Singapore Chinese Football Association (later known as Singapore Chinese Football Club) and Malaya (later Malaysia) Chinese Football Association into one single post.

Nonetheless, should you have any material or details about the aforementioned subjects, please feel free to email me in order to enrich this blog post, thanks.

The Beginning
According to an article of the souvenir publication produced by Singapore Chinese Football Association (SCFA) for their social and dance held on 15 December 1956, this umbrella body of Chinese football teams in Singapore was founded in 1911 after a meeting was held on 20th of May at Chinese Chamber of Commerce as "Straits Chinese Football Association" and opened its doors to all Chinese football clubs to join the organization as their members.

The first tournament organized by SCFA was known as the Fairy Dale Cup with the opening match contested between Mt Walich Club and White Star Football Club on 15th of July 1911 at the field of St Joseph School and this maiden match was won two-nil by latter.

The souvenir magazine produced by SCFA in 1956 (NLB archive)
The same article, which was based on extractions from the renowned "One Hundred Years of The Chinese In Singapore" by Sir Ong Siang Song, also detailed some of the notable moments of the organization during its formative years which included a friendly game against a visiting team from Penang at the Esplanade that was graced by the presence of Sir Arthur Young, the Governor of the Straits Settlements, and his wife Lady Evelyn Young.

As the game grew in popularity, competitions such as the HMS Malaya Cup and Ho Ho Cup (inter-port tournament contested by Hong Kong and Malayan Chinese) were organized and proved to be a hit with local football fans.

And it was presumably after the first Ho Ho Cup played in Hong Kong followed by a tournament in Canton (now Guangzhou) participated by a group of Malayan Chinese footballers (with players from Singapore as well) in 1928 that the proposal to form a football association for the Malayan Chinese community surfaced in August that year.

The proposal to form MCFA, as reported by NYSP (NLB archive)
Reported by Nanyang Siang Pau (南洋商報 NYSP) on its 23rd of August edition, it stated "there is a need to form an organization for Malayan Chinese football fraternity after taking part in tournaments in both Hong Kong and Canton earlier this year by a team of Malay Peninsular Chinese."

"After a meeting was convened last weekend at Kuala Lumpur to discuss the proposal, representatives from Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan are hopeful of the eventual formation of such organization whose utmost task will be selecting a Malayan Chinese squad to play against visiting teams from Hong Kong and Shanghai in next April." added this Chinese-language broadsheet founded by entrepreneur Tan Kah Kee in 1923.

Three months later on 23rd November 1928, the Malayan Chinese Football Association (MCFA) was founded in Kuala Lumpur and confirmed blue and white as the association's primary colours, although it mandated when facing "foreign opponents" the team jersey would be a vest with tiger stripes print, according to the NYSP's report on the founding of the organization.

The formation of MCFA (red sidelined), as reported by NYSP (NLB archive)
SCFA's friendly match against Bengal Gymkhana at Anson Road Stadium in 1924 (Mr Luke Foong Chi Yow)
The same report, dated 24th of November of that year, also mentioned one of the committee members will travel to Hong Kong to extend MCFA's invitation to "South China" to come to Malaya as part of their "Southern Excursion" itinerary in the following year.

The visit by "South China" (a combined team that made up of Hong Kong footballers) in May 1929 to Malaya saw them played a series of matches in places like Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca upon their arrival in Singapore where they faced a SCFA selection at the Anson Road Stadium on the 13th before taking on a MCFA side in the second Ho Ho Cup match on the same venue three days later.

Such exchanges begun the trend and resulted frequent interactions of the football communities between these regions during the British rule that sustained (barring the Pacific War period) till the 1980s when competitions such as Aw Hoe Cup and Por Yen Cup were held.

Reconstitution After War
Just liked many sports and other recreational activities, the activities of both SCFA and MCFA came to a stop during the Japanese Occupation and resumed after the war with the Singapore body revived itself in late November 1945, the Malayan body followed suit in a meeting held in Kuala Lumpur's Selangor Chinese Recreation Club on 31st of January 1948 and elected "Rubber and Pineapple King" Lee Kong Chian as the president of the reconstituted MCFA.

The reconstitution of MCFA in 1948 (NLB archive)
The SCFA had always an affiliate of MCFA since the latter's establishment and the late Choo Kwai Low of SCFA was named one of the joint honorary secretaries of the reconstituted MCFA in the aforementioned meeting in January 1948 (in an interview with Lianhe Wanbao in May 1987, Choo, however, claimed he was the one "registered" MCFA in Singapore after the war but added events like executive meetings was held in Kuala Lumpur to make it convenience for other affiliates to attend these events, a claim that was supported by this Straits Times article in 1958).

However, changes in political climate since the return of the British witnessed inevitable alteration in structure of MCFA when the Malayan authority deregistered the organization in 1960.

Citing the fact that Malaya was already an independent nation and Singapore was a self-governing territory under the British, the Malayan Registry of Society stated SCFA, being an organization of a foreign country, should not be an affiliate of a Malayan organization and struck MCFA off their registry despite a number of prior notifications to request necessary amendment to the MCFA's constitution.

MCFA was declared an illegal body in 1960 (NLB archive)
Following the merger and formation of Malaysia, SCFA found themselves re-affiliated as a member body of the re-registered MCFA (as Malaysia Chinese Football Association) in May 1965.

Even after the Separation in August 1965 that saw Singapore became an independent sovereign nation, SCFA maintained its affiliation with the MCFA until 1978 when the Malaysian authority came knocking the doors again citing the same reason used in 1960.

The outcome did not see the repeat of the 1960 saga but saw the Singaporeans (who was by then renamed as Singapore Chinese Football Club (SCFC) in March 1970) relinquished their membership from MCFA after a resolution was passed in the latter's AGM on 30th March 1978 that ended the association between these two bodies since 1928 but SCFC continued to take part in the marquee MCFA Cup competition on invitational basis after the perpetual breaking up.

SCFC withdrawn its MCFA membership in 1978 (NLB archive)
Since then, the fate of the two bodies embarked on a different route of their own with the MCFA continues their role as the umbrella body of the Malaysian Chinese football community, SCFC went through a series of changes that saw them renamed as Singapore Xin Hua Sports Club in recent years and maintained themselves as affiliate with the Football Association of Singapore.

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from NLB online archives, 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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