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Youth and Grassroots dominated the "Ideas For Change"

Mr Bernard Tan (standing) opens the session
Mr Bernard Tan (standing) opens the session

"Ideas For Change" is a new initiative spearheaded by Mr Bernard Tan, vice-president of FAS Provisional Council, and had its first session at NYSI Satellite @ Kallang, it is modeled after the concept of TED Talks where speakers are given ten minutes each to speak on the topic of their choice.

Making their presence at this maiden session included the likes of FAS General-Secretary Winston Lee, outgoing S.League CEO Lim Chin, former national players Goh Tat Chuan and Aleksandar Duric, who was one of the nine speakers who took turns to share their views on the local game with the audience.


Dr Swarup Mukherjee from Nanyang Technological University was the first speaker to kick start the evening when he suggested a "mindset shift" over the years resulted in having a lesser number of kids playing football these days.

Dr Mukherjee kicked start the evening
Dr Mukherjee kicked start the evening 

Rather than discourage kids from taking up the game, Dr Mukherjee believes football should be seen as a useful tool in teaching skills like problem-solving, the spirit of competitiveness, etc. while playing the game, and added involvement from parents is something crucial along the process as well.

“The game is the best teacher ... the game of football is to let the kids enjoy.” concluded the man who once served as a Medical Officer in the Indian Army.

Echoed the thoughts of Dr Mukherjee was Mr Colin Braberry, the President of St Michael's Soccer Association, who shared with the audience how important parental involvement is in his setup with some of them actively volunteering themselves in various aspects of the organization on top of imparting values like character building and creating a conducive environment which helps to foster bonding among peers with their parents.

Prior to that, Mr Braberry gave the floor an insight on how his organization started off from “an initiative of the SJI Old Boys’ Association” back in 2007 on an informal basis before being formally registered as an organization with the Registry of Societies in March 2015.

Both Dr Mukherjee and Mr Braberry agree with each other that there should a “fun” element in kids' football that is prioritized over the outcome of whether who wins or lose the game.

Mr Bernard Teo talks passionately about the SJI football revival
Mr Bernard Teo talks passionately about the SJI football revival

As such, it was that joy of kicking a plastic ball in his younger days had the second speaker of the night – Mr Tan Teck Hock, the principal of Singapore Sports School, opined that it isn't necessary to play the game on a grass surface like he did in his childhood days which he described it was played in an “unstructured” manner.


Adding to that sense of nostalgia was Mr Bernard Teo who was responsible for the revival of the football program at his alma mater St Joseph's Institution (SJI) after twelve years hiatus in 2012 before saw former national defender Kadir Yahaya lead the school's football team to their first football title in 30 years in 2015 by clinching the National Schools’ South Zone B Division Football Championship.

In his opening statement of his ten-minute allocation, Mr Teo revealed the passion and excitement back in 1973 when he and his classmates went to the old Jalan Besar Stadium to cheer their seniors on in their quest for the national title and stated it was “sense of belonging” fuelled that adrenaline rush and he asked if it would be possible to see such sentiment replicate on a broader base like in the S.League?

Coach Yeong pointed out the problems of the women's game
Coach Yeong pointed out the problems of the women's game 


Just before the session adjourned for a short recess, the talk by National Women's Team Head Coach Yeong Sheau Shyan protruded the critical lack of support for the ladies' game as compared to their male counterparts, she believes women's football deserves the equality enjoyed by the men if people are willing to have a “change of mindset” on how they view women playing the beautiful game. Having witnessed significant corporate support behind the netball fraternity, the former school teacher hopes to see similar backing in the women's game in near future.

Following the session of Mr Joe Keiser of AC Milan Academy Scuola Calcio, the focus of the evening shifted to grassroots football which both Mr Tan and Duric opined with the large number of (soccer) schools operating around the island, there should be a way to consolidate the promotion of grassroots football.


Citing the importance of having good coaches in those formative years, Duric, who is now the principal of ActiveSG Football Academy, felt there are many so-called coaches in some academies who are “not qualified” and do not coach the kids in “a proper way”, therefore, he hopes to see measures in place to correct this situation with the Football Association of Singapore.


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