Farewell to S'pore football's beacon of light

It is hard to believe that Mr N. Ganesan, who brought about the famous Kallang Roar, is no more ("The man who made Kallang Roar dies"; yesterday).

He was an extraordinary football administrator, with a genuine love for the beautiful game.

As Football Association of Singapore (FAS) chairman from 1974 to 1981, he served the office with immense distinction.

He formulated a major breakthrough in the National Football League, revamping it from 118 clubs to a strong 30, and also launched the Lion City Cup, an Under-16 tournament for budding young talent.

It was his bold vision and decision to shift Singapore's Malaysia Cup home matches from Jalan Besar Stadium to the new National Stadium in 1974 that led to 55,000 people flocking to the Grand Old Dame in Kallang to cheer on the Lions.

Gani, as he was always known, was also a successful criminal lawyer.

I feel blessed to have interacted with him when I visited him at his Central Building office in Havelock Road in 1984 to seek his advice on a particular case.

In between discussions, he regaled me with all the stories of the glorious days of Singapore football, particularly in 1977 and 1980, when Singapore won the Malaysia Cup.

A man of natural warmth, Mr Ganesan was hard-working, simple and good natured.

Nobody had a bad word to say about him, and that tells you how nice a man he was.

He was truly a beacon of light for Singapore football. The reality is we may never see his like again.

A. Thiyaga Raju

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2015, with the headline 'Farewell to S'pore football's beacon of light'. Print Edition | Subscribe