Football: Winners reflect Pentagon Awards' unique nature

(Foreground from left) Tampines Rovers FC players Jordan Webb and Jermaine Pennant pictured at the Pentagon Awards.
(Foreground from left) Tampines Rovers FC players Jordan Webb and Jermaine Pennant pictured at the Pentagon Awards. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Pentagon Awards honour contributions on and off pitch, set to become annual affair

A glitzy black-tie event at the swanky Fullerton Bay Hotel, complete with a high-profile guest list sprinkled with a dash of royalty.

Hardly an occasion one would associate with local - or regional - football, but that was what the Pentagon Awards, conceived by Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra, delivered last night.

The awards, supported by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), aim to recognise men and women in South-east Asia who have contributed to the sport both on and off the pitch on top of sporting excellence.

In attendance were Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck, Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and Johor Princess Tunku Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

 

Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin and Winston Lee, FAS general secretary and AFC vice-president, were also present.

The awards' uniqueness was evident in the night's five main winners, which included two former players, a club chairman, a referee and a budding footballer.

  • PENTAGON AWARDS ROLL

  • The Leaders' Leader Award: Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim

  • (Above, left) R. Sasikumar receiving his award from Tampines Rovers vice-chairman Leon Yee

    The Entrepreneurial Footballer Award: R. Sasikumar

  • The Inspiring Referee Award: Muhammad Taqi Aljaafari

  • The Up-and-Coming Footballer Award: Hami Syahin (above)

  • The Health and Fitness Award: Aleksandar Duric

Tunku Ismail, chairman of Malaysian Super League club Johor Darul Takzim (JDT), won the Leaders' Leader award for his contributions to Malaysian football.

Under his leadership, JDT won the AFC Cup - Asia's second-tier club competition - last year.

In his acceptance speech, he said: "Once you do everything right, put the right energy and passion in it, everything is possible. This is only the beginning for JDT."

While organising the event took up a lot of his time, Krishna, a corporate lawyer by profession, restated his desire to make this an annual affair.

"Human beings by nature need to be acknowledged and endorsed for the great work they do," he said.

"The subsequent years will certainly run efficiently and we can learn from some of the things we missed out this time around."

With four of the five winners hailing from Singapore, Krishna said he is working towards greater representation from South-east Asian countries for next year's edition. He said: "We now have a head start for the 2017 awards so hopefully winners can come from further afield."

The ceremony doubled as a fund-raiser for Tampines. A charity auction was held and more than $100,000 was raised for Beyond Social Services, an organisation that works with disadvantaged youths.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline 'WINNERS REFLECT UNIQUENESS'. Print Edition | Subscribe