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Mindset Tweak To Stay Relevant For NFL Clubs ...

Despite calls from all corners to push the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to implement the promotion/relegation system between the professional S.League and the amateur National Football League (NFL) in order to inject the much-needed competitiveness among clubs, this blogger is still not in favour of this conventional practice commonly used in most football leagues around the world.

Those who bother can refer to this old entry to find out why this blog insisted the promotion/relegation system is not feasible in Singapore football.

Added on to the recent embarrassments (source 1, 2) that occurred in recent weeks did little to improve the image of the NFL either.

NFL sides would have to tweak their mindset to stay relevant (file picture)
NFL sides would have to tweak their mindset to stay relevant (file picture)

It is no secret that some of these NFL clubs harbouring thoughts of becoming part of the S.League one day but are being hamstrung by unfavourable climate of the game all along.

Perhaps, it is time to adopt a different approach to see how the NFL can contribute effectively to the growth of the game in the republic.

One of the ways is the establishment of a "farm system" in the ecosystem which, however, requires these amateur sides to give up their professional ambition for good and also to ensure good governance in their internal structure as well to complement what is going to suggest later in this entry.

The concept of a “farm system” will see a partnership forged between the S.League and NFL clubs similar to baseball's Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs have with their minor league affiliates in the United States.

The baseball "farm system" operates in a way that most new players drafted by MLB clubs do not usually start immediately in the big league but from the lower tiers of the minor leagues to hone their skills before they are ready for the big time.

It took years for baseball players to be ready to play in MLB (credit: Nick Jio on Unsplash)

In another word, the minor league is a "nursery" for the MLB clubs like how the collegiate system (i.e.: NCAA) is nurturing talents for basketball's NBA, etc.

Throughout the years, the fallout rate in the scene witnessed many raw talents not sustain long enough to see them reach the level to play in the S.League due to factors like academic pursuit and mandatory National Service.

Crippled by the "elitism" policy which had further eroded the already small talent pool, we might accidentally filter away some of those "later boomers" along the way and live with regret for not giving them a second chance.

A "farm system" program could serve as an option to put things in place to ensure the conveyor belt is working to churn out the talents if the NFL clubs are willing to fit into the proposed plan.

One suggestion this blog can offer is to have an S.League club pool its resources together with one or a few NFL affiliates to form a cluster that would see a bigger pool of players being formed out of it.

The roles within this cluster should be further defined as the NFL affiliates will see themselves as function as a "nursery" for rookies signed by the cluster for a minimum period of one year to prepare them for the professional game and in the meantime allow those injured professional S.League players to regain match fitness during their rehabilitation period by turning out in NFL matches, given the absence of Prime League.

Whereas the S.League club of the cluster will now be able to focus its role on being the main source for the national team and leaving the rest of the fundamental grooming in the hands of their NFL affiliates.

(L-R) Former Lions like Itimi Dickson and Ali Imran Lomri turned out for NFL side SRC in 2014
(L-R) Former Lions like Itimi Dickson and Ali Imran Lomri turned out for NFL side SRC in 2014

Both "Balestier" can work out something like forming a "cluster"
Both "Balestier" can work out something like forming a "cluster"

Not just the playing staff, this cluster arrangement should also allow the strengthening of the backroom support (eg: administration, etc.) among the affiliates by providing support for each other, when necessary.

The formation of the suggested cluster can be based on locality (eg: Balestier Khalsa working with its NFL namesake Balestier United) or S.League club Home United (who is associated with the Ministry of Home Affairs) to form a strategic partnership with its "distant cousins" - Police Sports Association.

To give up something they have been striving so hard for is a bitter pill to swallow but with the local game at its lowest point, this blogger would urge all stakeholders to look at things from a perspective of a bigger picture.

Any idea and proposal that come along the way now is nothing more than a gamble that is bound to meet with skepticism and doubts.

But at the end of the day, we shall not let the fear of uncertainty and unknown deter us from steering out of the tunnel, more importantly - never repeat the mistakes we made in the past.


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