Friday, August 19, 2011


Challenging The Perceived Wisdom In Singapore

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good wholesome rant about football in Singapore. I find it very therapeutic to lash out once in a while from the anonymity of a keyboard and decry the faults so evident in others while I am never called to task on my opines!

Personally speaking I find Singapore football to be exciting. In fact the SLeague is the most exciting league in south east Asia. No ifs, buts or maybes.

Take a look at this current season where perhaps three or four teams are serious title contenders. But look at the intriguing sub plots lower down the ladder. The resurgence of Hougang United, Geylang’s fine unbeaten ru, Etoile’s bounce back from the five point deduction, Balestier’s switch from cellar dweller to mid table, Tanjong Pagar’s youth and ability to give the big boys a run for their money.

And there’s more. Hougang fans attempting to create an atmosphere at SLeague games, young players making an impression on the national team, Harris’ growing maturity, Home United’s fine form, Jordan Webb making an impression, Fazrul Nawaz netting consistently.

I could go on but that will do for now.

The head of the Football Association of Singapore has decided that next season they will do more about attracting fans to games and he has set up a committee to find ways of doing this. I have no idea who is on this committee, I imagine a bunch of time servers and the usual faces who have their boats in the papers but I tell you who should be on any gob fest looking to revitalize Singapore football.

The lads behind Lions All The Way who have taken to following the Lions and giving them a bit of a cheer. United 4 United, a group of lads who have taken to following Hougang United and are trying to have a bit of a laugh at home and away games. The lads behind Bola Sepak and Liga Singapura plus the other bloggers who write at great length about a game all but ignored by the national media,

I guess though the panel will be stuffed with people who are called stake holders, a term which worries me. I guess it includes sponsors and let’s face it don’t they do a great job of both promoting the league and their products? There is a beer sponsor yet you can’t buy beer! One sponsor delights in giving away free ice cream! Hands up if free ice cream has ever enticed you to a football match? Seriously, until now they have contributed little, what makes us think they can do so in the future?

One suggestion to bring back the fans is to improve the quality of football as if all it takes is Harry Potter waving a wand! The football ain’t that bad and yes, there are dull games just as there are dull games in the English Premier League involving Singaporean’s favourite football teams, Liverpool and Manchester United. Hell, maybe even Barcelona have been involved in crap games.

Did you know the population of Tampines is reckoned to be 216,000? Bigger than the combined populations of Blackburn and Wigan in England! Two of the smaller teams in England yet Blackburn attract over 20,000 every home game while maybe 15,000. Tampines Rovers? In the low hundreds!

You could say the same about Jurong, which doesn’t even have a team anymore, Geylang and Woodlands. Why are crowds so risible? What have the FA done about correcting the slide to anonymity? What have the clubs done to get out in the community? How do week day evening kick offs encourage kids to attend football matches?

Attracting more people to football matches in Singapore is’t easy and I don’t mean to imply it is. It involves changing the mindset of the whole population who despite their flag waving on 9th August still feel the pull of the old colonial power. Everything foreign, goes their logic, is good while everything local is crap. Except the government of course who are brilliant!

Change the mindset and we’re on our way!

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The combined attendance of all the teams in the S-League does not match the attendances once achieved by the unified Singaporean team in the Malaysian League, and that is before you start using real attendance figures rather than those published by the S-League. (I am assuming this has not changed).

My feeling is the problem is that locals do not consider themselves to be within the communities of Hugang, Tampines, Jurong or Geylang, but simply as Singaporean citizens. They can easily get to any of the clubs, but they have no reaon to give allegance to one.

Quite a few clubs do not have a geographic name anyway.

One thing clubs need to do in order is to increase their local profile, making the locals proud of their local club.
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