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, 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)

Monday, January 13, 2020

Prove Your Point Outside!

To be honest, I am not sure what is the approach of most Singaporean players playing in tournaments like AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup - an opportunity to gauge their worth against regional opponents at a higher competitive setting OR an extra burden to their domestic commitments that might affect their game?

And to be honest again, at this stage I still having doubts that the Singapore Premier League (SGPL) is an ideal platform to allow Singaporean players to showcase their worth to regional market given the lack of intensity and competitiveness in recent years, as compared to some Football Association of Singapore (FAS) top officials envisage for (if I'm not wrong).

Home United's (red) 2018 AFC Cup run was a rare success in ongoing doldrums
That is why it is important for SGPL clubs to do well in the AFC Cup or at the higher tier AFC Champions League (ACL), if given the chance to do so, when recent years' results have been poor except for Home United's relatively good run in 2018 saw them crowned as the Asean zonal champions of this second tier club competition in Asia.

While national coach Tatsuma Yoshida's astuteness saw him fielded a few players with little or no AFC Cup experience but did decently okay to justify their selection, it is still useful and worthwhile for local footballers who yet to earn a cap to aim for chance to play in these continental tournaments to see how they fare against regional peers.

This view by Coach Raddy changed my opinion completely (as credited)
It is because I still agree with what former national coach Raddy Avramovic who once stressed the importance to perform well in tournaments like AFC Cup at club level, so that Singapore players can know what to expect when play for the Lions at international level where pace and fitness are much more demanding than in the domestic game.

A good showing against regional sides in AFC Cup is a good testament for SGPL clubs and Singaporean players that they can compete head to head with their regional peers.

We cannot simply say this particular player has been outstanding in SGPL and that's why is he ready to be poached by overseas sides when exposure at tournaments like AFC Cup could be something value add to his profile.

An unforgettable journey of the Tigers (as credited)
Furthermore, playing in AFC Cup provides opportunity for our players how their follow peers live when long distance travelling to games is part and parcel of their supposedly livelihood when moving around to any part of Singapore is almost within an hour reach, unless they are caught in a traffic jam.

Remember, it is at an AFC tournament not something obscurity at your backyard that regional clubs would prefer to see if our local footballers can make it or break it or not before waving the cheques.

Get out now to prove a point!

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Stack Of Memories That Seen The Changes ...

When I declared my season was done after the 2019 Singapore Cup final, I realized I amassed a stack of accreditation passes that were essential to work behind the scene from the days it was known as the S.League till two years ago when it was rebranded as Singapore Premier League (SGPL).

My involvement started half way in 1998 (the third season) when I answered a call and turned up at a meeting in the S.League office at old National Stadium to be part of the crew assembled to help the official league website.

Evolution of the passes 
The first pass I received was a laminated pass the necessary details besides the photo which I snapped at one of those instant photo booths, on the bottom of the pass listed the league sponsors of that season like Tiger Beer, Pepsi, NTUC Income and Singapore Pools.

NAMECARD SIZE PASS FIT IN NICELY
The following year saw the pass shrunk into a namecard-size made of plastic material by Cardwon from Taiwan and honestly speaking, I like the size of it as it fit in nicely into your wallet that you would not misplace it unless you really did.

In totally, the namecard-size plastic pass were issued for fourteen seasons (utill 2012) before the relevant authority reverted back to those laminated type in 2013.

Total of 14 "namecard" passes were issued
Goal 2010 logo was placed on passes from 2000 to 2003
2014 pass was a multi-functioning pass
Owning to its significance, the pass also made sure we were reminded of that grand "GOAL 2010" project whose logo was prominently placed on passes issued in season 2000 to 2003 (the project was dropped in June 2004).

Besides the S.League matches, the accreditation issued for season 2014 also allowed the pass holder acess to "home" matches of the national team, the Lions XII's home game at Jalan Besar Stadium.

"S.LEAGUE" LAST APPEARED IN 2017
With the exception of 2017 that last saw the name "S.LEAGUE" appeared on the pass, the accreditation issued by the governing body since 2016 is separated into two - one for the domestic league/cup tournaments with the other specifically for matches involving the national team's "home" matches.

"S.League" made its final appearance on 2017 pass
Separate accreditations were issued since 2016 (except 2017)
Following the rebranding exercising that revamped the league to SGPL, the accreditation pass issued from 2018 onwards are clearly defined in line with those used at continental level where terms like PHO (defined as photographer) and PRE (journalist) being inscribed to identify the pass holder's actual role on match days.

It is probably because those terms are printed in bigger and bolder font for better visibility from a distance away which explains why the bigger size of the accreditation pass, I would love to see the return of the namecard-size that fitted into my wallet some days soon though, if I am still allowed to apply for one again.

(P.S: necessary details on cards are blanketed for security reasons)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

[Annual Review] Not Flogging The Dead Horse

This year's review will be on the blog itself.

If we are going to talk about the state of the local game for the past twelve months, it would be another session of flogging the dead horse.

EVOLUTION - NECESSARY PROCESS
Evolution is a necessary process for most of us and this platform is no different in order to stay relevant.

Although I would say I took a route that evolved this platform into something not conventional and some may not even find it relevant at all.

Since last year, this platform decided to place more focus on something it had never done before when compilation of historical accounts of local football is being prioritized.

Sunday Nation headlines on 13th March 1977 (NLB archive)
The process of combing through the online newspapers archives has been a rewarding experience that it is an eye opener to realize how active the scene was in the long gone era.

Media coverage by the press were abundant with newspapers like The Straits Times, Malayan Tribune, Singapore Free Press, New Nation, Singapore Monitor, etc. frequently assigned their reporters to cover the bits and pieces of the thriving football scene back then.

APPRECIATING THE PAST
The uncovering of the long forgotten Business Houses League and the confirmation of the identities of the seven players who played for Hong Kong's Kitchee SC in the 1950s is nothing more than satisfying and to receive a compliment from a next of kin of one of those seven players is a morale boaster that made the whole effort worthwhile.

This compliment is a great encouragement, thanks 
Ironically, despite the advancement of the information technology these days, the coverage of local football scene nowadays is a pale shadow as compared to the past that it could be something explained in one of the past entries of this blog.

WORRYING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
Given the present scarcity of coverage, so where and how would future generations depend on if they intend to learn what happened nowadays?

One of the worrying signs is that those match reports and relevant news articles on the former official league website are not readily available.

To make things worse the former site that used to host the official league website (www.sleague.com) seems to be taken over by some unknown party following the rebranding of the league to Singapore Premier League last year and attempts to track down those old articles seems like a futile task.

POINTLESS TO CONTINUE IF ...
While a sizable time has been committed on those archival researching for the past one year, I still think it is pointless for me to compile past local football history when you still having people come up to say "how good were those days" and belittling the efforts of the present ones.

The achievements of the past generations shall be served to inspire the future ones.

I thought the later generations done just that when we won a few Asean titles when the past generations, while galvanized the whole nation, did not win a SEAP or SEA Games gold medal in spite of the enormous talents we used to have when the Malaya (later Malaysia) Cup was deemed the benchmark of local football pinnacle.

We won a few Asean titles in the recent generations but not the SEA Games Gold in past
Without any doubt, due recognition and acknowledgement should be given to those who deserved them

Unlike their British peers whose footages can be occasionally found on those old British Pathé newsreels, the present generation do not have a chance to witness how great players like Dolfatah, Lim Yong Liang, Chua Boon Lay, Mat Noor, Rahim Omar, etc. were, as described by those who were memerized by their wizardry at the either demolised Anson Road Stadium or the old Jalan Besar Stadium.

Perhaps, the only way to end the "greatness" debate is to have a match between teams of different generations which, of course, is impossible and coming to this juncture - shall we put to an end of the debate that will lead to no conclusion?

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from 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 should there be any mistake, thanks)

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