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13 deemed UNlucky - Annual Review 2009

14 years down the road what had we achieved?

“Below-average moderate” as I am to grade the overall achievement for the league.

Yes, it provides a chance for any budding footballer to earn a livelihood out of kicking a ball around, also ample jobs in coaching and club administration, etc.

Despite the constant proclamation as “one of the top 10 leagues in Asia”, it's not hard to see that there's a lot to be done to overcome some teething issues bugging the league.


From time to time, I have been using this blog to share my thoughts and views on the local football scene, I can't help but felt let down that several nagging issues have yet to be resolved.

It's easy to spot a mistake from far, but before we can tackle that problem, how and where are we going to make the first step?

Maybe this feedback from a reader on one of the previous entries sums up the best.

“Well, it is always easy to give 'suggestions' while watching from far (sic). One never know (sic) how these suggestions will turn out until he/she is in the position to implement them."


Took this picture (abovementioned) at my workplace. Those faded cut-outs are mascots of those founding clubs that formed the S.League, way back in 1996.

As illustrated, the league seriously needs a major re-branding exercise for what is mentioned in the quote below (from a Facebook contact).

"Sleague (sic) is like a "super good quality" mp3 player that no one wants to buy. And if no one wants to buy, this product is a poor product and it's a failure. No matter how you want to explain that this Sleague mp3 player is better than Ipod (sic), if it dun sells, it sucks"


If you recall years ago when Tanjung Pelepas, a port in Johor, near Tuas, started out, what was the stance of PSA, our port operators? They don't give a damn!
The red plot is where Tanjung Pelepas Port is

But when big boys like Maersk and Evergreen shifted to this new start-up in southwest Johor, PSA realized that something needed to be done to arrest the issue, before more would follow the suit then. A similar situation like this is facing the league now!
Noh Alam Shah (above) retracted his statements weeks after his outburst before heading to Arema Malang.

The league authority should stop “make-believe” itself and take a hard look at some of the problems mentioned by Noh Alam Shah prior to his departure to Indonesia.

(P.S: Although there was a U-turn by Alam Shah over his outburst in late October following some “clearing air” session with FAS, I still felt significant damages had been done.)


I was at the H-Two-O futsal challenge. A look at the way most teams played concluded my view that most youngsters still lacked the basic fundamental skills to play the game.
No thanks to the "kiasu" mentality that we saw those "kick-and-rush" in futsal courts

As mentioned earlier, the five-a-side version is the best place to hone skills like controlling, passing, etc.

However, those "kiasu" types of football on that day had actually turned me off.

The point is if you cannot get your basics right from the start, how are you going to progress and improve your game?


Once at a pre-season friendly, I asked a club chairman about his thoughts on engaging the community where his club is based.

"Definitely, we're looking into it (community outreach), but first we got to improve our football before we can take about it," he said.

The point of view of this chairman is that result means everything, and you can't convince fans to come back to the stadium when the football is not up to mark.

There's only this much I can do, as mainstream media is still essential to drive awareness at this stage, while "alternate" media remains a complement component (I can't recall who snapped this picture of me, but thanks).

However, at a post-match press conference that I attended many months later, another school of thought surfaced.

"Tell me if football in Indonesia and Malaysia is better than what we offered?" the coach asked. "It's about exposure." he offered that opinion when those in the room disagreed.

"While I was in Indonesia, a friend of mine who is a coach of a club kept receiving calls from reporters asking this and that.

"Because of this (exposure), it helps to make people follow the league since it's in the newspapers every day, and there will be crowds to see the games because people read, want to know and so they follow.

"Players' performance will definitely be lifted since they're playing in front of big crowds!" he concluded.


The mass pin-fall after one another since that mass exodus of top players to Indonesia had turned everybody into an expert on local football.

This group of learned intellectuals is more than eager to give their point of view to address the deteriorated football scene in Singapore.

Lamenting, bemoaning, etc. are part of what I call it a "BLAME GAME".

"The media did not do their part in publicizing the local game, they hardly make an effort to generate interest on local football than focus more attention on EPL"

"The constant rescheduling of fixtures has been making it so hard for the league to cultivate a pool of loyal fans and media to follow."

(Above-mentioned quotes are summarized by various thoughts, and feedback, and not from individuals.) 

To be honest, the league authority did come up with some initiatives to entice fans to come to the game on its flagship “Friday Night Football" program, but the response had been lukewarm since many people, for those who bother, would rather catch the game in their own comfort zone or they aren't aware due to scant media coverage.
Behind the scene - "Friday Night Football"

Probably, because the idea of catching live games at the stadium is never a novel idea among the locals. At the end of the day, it's not hard at all to pinpoint a problem but can anyone come up with a feasible solution fast enough? Such pointing here and there resulted in a situation that nobody wants to take the responsibility to kick-start the much-needed changes to the way the game is run in this country.
  • The clubs - It seems that since last year after I penned something on fostering a greater sense of belongings in last year's review, things seem to remain largely "status quo" based on the fact that cheering the teams at the games remain the duty of those punters (cursing and swearing in their case) and those of the "official" fans club. I should stop ranting on this issue as I felt what I suggested is adequate from my point of view and therefore, I rest my case on this issue.
  • The fans - should stop moaning about the low standard of play and lack of atmosphere at the grounds. You guys have the role to play in hyping up the atmosphere at the ground by not just quietly sitting down at games like attending an orchestral performance.
While I have nothing against them, I honestly hope those so-called "official" supporters can make an effort to engage with others at the stadium, and not just limit themselves to one reclusive corner (I constantly shook my head whenever I witnessed that pathetic scene when we played against China and Thailand).
  • The media - Now, get out of your comfort zone and rang those potential newsmakers and get them to open their mouth to say something. For quite a while, I have not been touching on the media aspect of the local game, as I felt it's a "using-an-egg-to-hit-the-wall" kind of effort for me to chide these folks. 
Although, I must say that at times I was rather disappointed that, for some reason, TODAY - the main source of local football news provided mainly previews but fewer match reports as compared to previous years.
  • The league authority - we appreciate the difficulties you guys encountered when running the league, but the constant altering of league fixtures is not a healthy thing to do. 
FAS is housed inside Jalan Besar Stadium (who doesn't know that).

I was once told IF such a thing happened in Europe, clubs have the right to bring the issue to UEFA and disqualify the competition due to irregularities.

Another grouse raised was the late release of fixtures of the recently concluded season, due to the late announcement of the 12th team (DPMM).

We know some changes in the fixture are unavoidable, but too much altering will damage the credibility of the league authority, too, for being unprofessional with clubs not able to their season ahead properly.


And since the league authority had outlined the blueprint to improve the game in Singapore in a time when everybody's giving up, let's hope it's something that is sustainable (we would not want to see another "laughing stock" such as the "GOAL 2010" project).
I was there at the launch of the "Goal 2010" project

The point is blueprint or project, whatever it is, is simply just a guide to follow, whether the success of it depends on everybody who counted themselves as part of the football community - ARE YOU REALLY INVOLVED?.

It's always easy to point out the shortcomings of the whole setup, but at the end of the day are some of the suggestions made by some concerned individuals or groups feasible? If not, I really fear for the day that the league will become a routine chore year in and out just for the sake of it.


Last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have been providing a platform to allow this blog to involve in events I never thought I would.
  • SAFFC and FAS (The Asian Champions League, The AFC Cup, and The Asian Cup Qualifier)
Those "wonderful guys" of Soccerpro for another product review opportunity (Adidas Samba Millenium). And, most importantly - YOU - the readers for your kind attention, feedback, comments, etc. without which I doubt this blog would have survived this long to voice my concern and thoughts on the game we love so much. 


  1. Aiyah Pohui, followed the links and read your review for the last couple of years, and I must say, not much has change has it. In fact for the fans part, it has deteriorated. The attendence numbers are nowhere near the 2,500 per game that is mentioned by the officials, despite free tickets, SAFFC using their recruits at some key games, and the inclusion of DPMM this season.

    A lot has been mentioned about how we can improve, but ultimately these are all talks unless being carried out effectively. Just to use a line of Sir Clive Woodward in his FourFourTwo review of why England failed in the 2006 World Cup: Unless all noses are pointing in one direction, success will not follow. Do we have all noses within the football community, not just FAS, but die-hard fans, casual fans, media, government officials, sponsors, potential supporters etc, pointing in one direction?

    Having mention all these, I think football is still relatively "advance" compared to other sports. Just look at our (me & you at least lah, for here) beloved Singapore Slingers. No League to play after NBL withdrawal, need Tony Fernandes to create ABL, then playing minute dominated by the 4 imports, because our 8 locals cannot give sustain support. Not to mention B-ball don't even have a domestic semi-pro league, let alone a pro one like the... S-League.

    Football here could have been better, and could also hae been a lot worse, couldn't it?

  2. Frankie - agreed. its could have been a lot worse.

    Singapore is waiting for someone who can inspire the nation (if not a town) to get crazy our local football... and still waiting now...


    That "phone analogy" is by me~ LOL~

  3. Finally, people commenting using names. :)

    @Frankie: to be honest, I don't care too much for basketball and I never liked the Singapore Slingers as I always saw them as a commercial entity which by coincidence were based in Singapore, rather than an honest effort at building local talent. But I do think that at one point we had very good basketballers (at least in the Gay World era. I wasn't born then, correct me if I'm wrong.)

    Is the Singapore Basketball Association not running any amateur or semi-pro leagues? You are definitely correct to say that at least football has a professional league for local talent to compete in.

    I have to say, though, that football is still one of the biggest sports in Singapore, though there are table-tennis, badminton and swimming to share the limelight with.

    In all the above sports (except swimming ... I think), we have imported players. Calling them mercenaries would be a little too harsh, but who knows where their futures lie? Think of Egmar Goncalves.

    It is good to have foreign talent to give our local talent more competition, more exposure to experienced sportsmen and a different perspective. Why organise friendlies with teams from other countries when you can put them in your league and have them test your local squads week in week out? That's fine.

    But where should we draw the line? I believe taking the better performers and getting them to sign contracts with the national team, awarding citizenships just so they can wear jerseys, is not the way to go. Think of Aleksandar Duric.

    If they are young, really enjoy living in Singapore or are willing to spend the rest of their lives here, and happen to be good at a particular sport, then let them play for the national team if they can prove themselves to be better than whatever local talent produced.

    Our foreign talent should be people who want to play for Singapore and are good enough to do so, not people who are good enough to play for Singapore who have been given incentives to stay here.

    Let's take all the incentives offered to people to come play for Singapore and give them to people IN Singapore who might want to consider seriously playing for Singapore. Take care of our own, and we will thrive.

    @Pohui: the kiasu mentality on the pitch is normal, in my opinion, it stems from the fact that everything is a competition and we need to find the fastest possible way to compete evenly in each contest so that we can move on to winning all the other contests we are trying to take part in at the same time.

    Kind of like a small man complex, whatever the technical term for it is. Signs of insecurity.

    If we give the people who can really play more incentives that will allow them to safely play without having to worry what they will be doing after sports, then we can let our own talent grow.

    Until then, football, like other local sports, will be the province of youths, amateurs and wannabes, and we'll always have to hire foreigners to build a team we will be proud of - because there is no other team we can be proud of except Team Singapore, right?

    Well, judging from the reaction to Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka in the "last match at Kallang" in comparison to the reception the entire Singapore team got that night, we know how most of Singapore identifies with their national team.

    (I'm not saying don't cheer your heroes, I'm saying pay more attention to your local team, they're also pretty good.)

  4. Thks for the review of 2009 season

  5. No personal issue this time, but since I've decided to take a backseat from, the league would always carry on without me, so as long it is running..
    Some of the old mentality and current people must change and be moved on.
    Not that Singapore football would improve, or get into a first World Cup in the next 100 years, nor move forward if there's no mutual respect within sections of the fraternity for a start..

  6. Hi "Anonymous",

    Thanks for your support, however, please refrain from comment something irrelevant pertaining to THIS entry.

    But I would like to add this - "RESPECT is something we need to earn" and is something I'm trying to earn as well.


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Ko Po Hui

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