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."

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Spread Out OR Remained Parochial In Fan Engaging?

We tried but it has been largely a futile effort to see some clubs fused into the vicinity they based despite the reaching out that yield limited progress over the years. Just name me a list of which club had been able to mobilize the whole town to their home game when there is one?

It may have come to a juncture that building rapport with nearby residents isn't really a workable model that clubs should cast their net wider to tap on those unearthed fan base, not necessarily being parochial.

AWKWARDLY LOCATED ...
Given the small land area Singapore has, it has proven to be a challenge to create those cross town or regional rivalry we seen in other countries. Furthermore, the constant dynamism in the electoral boundaries has neither help to foster a sense of belonging (Take one example in Hougang Stadium - located in Ang Mo Kio GRC, bordered by Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC).

Politically, Hougang Stadium isn't part of Hougang SMC
Given our relatively homogeneous demographic composite in terms of social classes, it's unlikely to see the type of support we see in Argentine clubs like River Plate who represents the affluence class with their fiercest rivals Boca Juniors draw their backing from mainly working class.

Of course, clubs shall never be seen as themselves aligned to specific political ideology too.

Rather, it's important how the clubs would want to be portrayed themselves in order to appeal to a wider fan base.

Looking at our own backyard, don't we also having teams with such colorful background like Geylang International, Tampines Rovers and Balestier Khalsa which is evolved throughout generations from Fathul Karib back in 1898?

GEYLANG BANK ON HERITAGE ...
Suggested by a friend in one of recent conversations I had with, he shared some ideas.

He proposed:"Tampines can be known for, let's say being 'The Galacticos', given the array of big signings they made this season,"

"Geylang International can identify themselves as a club of rich heritage for having names like former Lions skippers Fandi Ahmad, Razali Saad, 'Russian Tank' Borhan Abu Samah D Tokijan, etc. during their heydays.

Geylang International was once the titans of the land (file)
"With Balestier who is known for their youth development and could earning revenue by developing and selling youths to other clubs." added my friend in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

HONG KONG EXAMPLES ...
More examples we could think of are two Hong Kong club sides - South China and Kitchee whom local fans are familiar with in recent years.

Owning its long lasting presence since 1904, it's not surprise to see South China, the team nicknamed "Shaolin Temple", accumulated supporters from all over Hong Kong with mammoth 41 First Division League titles starting from 1923-24 season to boost their stature ever since.

South China of Hong Kong was founded in 1904 (file)
Following their return to top flight in 2003, Kitchee SC (founded in 1931) have gone from strength to strength to see themselves as strong challenger to South China for dominance in various aspects of Hong Kong football.

Just like Singapore, the Chinese SAR is small in terms of land area but with a congested population and while there maybe clubs in the territory’s Premier League featuring teams representing districts like Yuen Long, Tai Po, etc. those two mentioned powerhouses of Hong Kong football do not confined to any particular region for their supporting base.

Kitchee supporters at JBS (file)
I believe much of that appeal could be on how both teams portrayed themselves to win over their fans.

It is likely because Kitchee is seen as a new emerging power to compete on par with South China who witnessed many of their past nemesis like Seiko in 1970s to 1980s, Instant-Dict in 1990s, etc. went either into the history books or oblivion.

Juventus graced Kallang in 2014 (file)
The "Grand Old Lady" of Italian football - Juventus, is another one such example that proven their fan base is not concentrated in the city of Turin from where they are hailed from but other parts of Italy too.

If this 2002 survey shown in this site is still valid, it claimed "I Bianconeri" enjoys widespread support from regions outside Piedmont region and even in the Lombardy region where both Inter and AC Milan are based.

"WE DON'T PROMOTE FOOTBALL CLUBS" ...
Encouraged by the League authority to assimilate into the locality they based since the inauguration in 1996, some clubs find it hard to establish a concrete bond with the local grassroots organizations.

"It takes two hands to clap," said one former club official who spoke on the condition of anonymity on such engagement."Also the clubs, themselves, must also know what the objective of such (community) engagement."

Would this HUFC poster at Bishan MRT station grab your attention?
"But things weren't that easy when we approached those (grassroots) organizations (for such engagement) as they would turn us down by saying 'we don't promote football clubs'.

"Furthermore, we were only allowed to put up (promotional) posters in strategically located Community Clubs (CC), instead on notice boards of residence blocks' lift lobbies that made it harder to reach out to a wider potential fan base."

Nonetheless, it isn't always the case to see such approach being snubbed as the continuing collaboration between Albirex Niigata (Singapore) and Yuhua CSC is the best testament for such effort.

ALBIREX FUSED INTO YUHUA ...
Following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this year, it marked the fourth year of this partnership between the constituency sports club and the club.

When asked if it has been the club's policy to target residents of Yuhua and nearby regions as their primary fan base, Albirex Singapore's General Manager Koh Mui Tee partially confirmed that suggestion with this blogger.

Albirex Niigata (S) has been a visible part of Yuhua estate
“Yuhua is the region when we first targeted as a base for community outreach,” said Koh in response to the query mentioned above in affirming their commitments to their hinterland.

He explained:“The reasons are many folds, for example, the (Jurong East) stadium (which serves as the team's home ground) and the club offices are based in the Yuhua SMC (Single Member Constituency) which is a small enough base for us to start rather than the Jurong area or South West region.”

The partnership has yielded many positive outcomes which saw the club named as the recipient of the People’s Association Community Award last year for their active involvement in the Yuhua community like promoting activities of local CC to the residents.

“If resources permit, we would, of course, like to expand to the Jurong area and eventually the South West region.” added Koh on the possibility of widen up their fan base to nearby housing estates in the near future.

Albirex Niigata (S)'s little cheerleaders (file)
But according to the long-time football administrator, the bond between his club and their hinterland can be traced before 2013 when they first inked the partnership.

Revealed Koh:“Before our collaboration (in 2013), we have already worked with Yuhua CC in relation to our cheerleading girls, who represented them in the Nationals Competition in 2012.”

Whilst many heralded their community efforts as a successful one, Koh felt there are many other similar occurrences in the S.League that media efforts should step up to promote these outreach citing some of the programs like Hougang United's scholarship programs, Warriors' community involvement in Yew Tee area, etc.

2 comments:

  1. It brings a different viewpoint to how clubs should market themselves and create an identity which the fans can relate to. More can definitely be done to market the league and teams as a whole!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think there is still some value in trying to reach out to the local crowd, like how Tampines before they move out tap on the Tampines people to support them. Clubs like Woodlands also used to have their regional backbones.
    For a club to attract fans nationwide, it need to have local and international success, like how Juventus is Italy most successful club and represent Italy in the continent. The club that came closest to developing this following were the renamed SAFFC and the current Tampines Rovers. SAFFC were representing Singapore in the ACL but couldn't sustain that after 2 seasons, while Tampines just need to get back to their roots.
    Overall the two approach need not be mutually exclusive. The regional approach can be use to divide catchment areas for clubs approaching the youth potential and schools as well, so let's not throw the baby out with the water.

    ReplyDelete

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