Football: Fresh views sought from new members

First-time FAS council members (clockwise from top) Rizal Rasudin, Yakob Hashim, Sharda Parvin and Darwin Jalil are keen to form much closer ties with the local grassroots and women's football scenes.
First-time FAS council members (clockwise from top) Rizal Rasudin, Yakob Hashim, Sharda Parvin and Darwin Jalil are keen to form much closer ties with the local grassroots and women's football scenes.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

They contribute with new ideas, networks as FAS seeks to lift S-League, grassroots scene

The new FAS council is looking at case studies of other leagues as it weighs up how to revamp the S-League.

This was revealed by new council member Forrest Li yesterday. Li, together with vice-presidents S. Thavaneson and Teo Hock Seng, is part of a trio from within the newly- elected council tasked with reviving the ailing domestic league.

The 39-year-old - who is the founder and chairman of online gaming portal and Young Lions sponsor Garena - told The Straits Times yesterday: "From an outsider's perspective, it's not healthy when the stadiums are empty. It shows that people don't really care and something must be wrong.

"We're looking at how to revamp the league through case studies of how other countries run their leagues. The Japan and Korea model might not work so well, but we can perhaps learn from the Chinese Super League model.

"We've got to figure out what we can take and learn from these case studies, and then see what could work here."


  • ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

  • FAS' freshmen

  • FORREST LI (above), 39

    Occupation: Founder and chairman of online gaming portal Garena. Garena pumped in a record $4 million, two-year sponsorship deal with the FAS last year to sponsor S-League club Young Lions.

    What I can offer: "From a commercial perspective, I can help in areas such as attracting more sponsors to sponsor the leagues and the teams. I can probably help our local teams to understand expectations from a sponsor's perspective, what's in their minds, and how we can convince them to come forward because I am familiar with businesses."

  • SHARDA PARVIN, 32

    Occupation: Teacher at Pathlight School, played for ITE (Bishan), Commonwealth Palace, Nanyang Technological University, Police Sports Association. Former team manager of the H-Two-O Women's Dream Team. Will be playing for Tanjong Pagar United in the Women's Premier League this season.

    What I can offer: "I have sat in the women's team managers' meetings and I know a lot of the concerns they have. I'll bring it up to the council and come up with solutions too. I'll also work closely with the national team staff and players, and I would like to get people who have more experience and expertise than me to work alongside me to help."

  • YAKOB HASHIM, 57

    Occupation: Retired policeman. Now a coach at Anza Soccer, a non-profit youth academy. Former Home United youth development and goalkeeper coach, former national goalkeeper. Head coach of NFL Division One team Yishun Sentek Mariners

    What I can offer: "Insight into youth development. The FAS must not stint on the development of youth players. We need to take care of their welfare like making sure they are paid a proper allowance. So that they know that there's a future in football and they can stay on playing in the game."

  • DARWIN JALIL, 33

    Occupation: Executive director of Project Vaults Group. General manager of reigning NFL champions Eunos Crescent.

    What I can offer: "As a person who delivered a lot of international football events at youth level, I feel that I can provide a strong input on how we can grow the grassroots and get the community more involved in football . I would be looking at how we can brush up the competition experience for affiliates and also getting more FA-organised football events to achieve mass participation."

  • RIZAL RASUDIN, 37

    Occupation: Property manager and town council board member for Sembawang GRC. Started playing for Gibraltar Crescent and then Sembawang Rangers. Currently the chairman of NFL Division Two club Admiralty Community Sports Club

    What I can offer: "I'm attached to the grassroots. I will be doing a lot of on-the-ground work like attending game sessions on a national, S-League, or youth level. If any club organises any tournament and invites us to go down for it, I'm willing to be there. I will spend time to go down to talk to the people. I'm not the type of person who likes to sit in the office and wait for people to report to me. I am a 'ground man'."

Li did not elaborate why the Chinese Super League model, where clubs are owned by corporations with enough financial muscle to sign top foreign talents, would work better for the S-League.

Still, the FAS will be drawing on his business expertise to convince more sponsors to support the S-League and the football scene. Li's Singapore-based company is reportedly valued at more than US$3.75 billion (S$5.23 billion).

He said: "What I can offer is from a commercial perspective, to attract more sponsors to sponsor the leagues and the teams.

"I can probably help our local teams to understand expectations from a sponsor's perspective, what's in their minds, and how we can convince them to come forward because I am familiar with businesses.

"Ultimately, we need an attractive product to draw sponsors in."

Li is one of five first-time council members. Darwin Jalil, Yakob Hashim, Rizal Rasudin and Sharda Parvin are also sitting in the sport's 15-member decision-making body for the first time.

Darwin, Yakob and Rizal are involved in the amateur National Football League (NFL) teams. Sharda, the only female council member, plays in the Women's Premier League.

One of the criticisms of the old management was that lower-division clubs playing in the NFL were neglected. Now, with three new office bearers representing the NFL clubs, the FAS council will seek to establish a closer link between the leadership and the social footballer.

Said Rizal, chairman of NFL Division 2 club Admiralty Community Sports Club: "Previously, people might say that the council did not support the grassroots.

"But now even if any club organises any tournament and invites us to go down for it, I'm willing to be there. I will spend time to go down to talk to the people."

NFL club Yishun Sentek Mariners' head coach Yakob added that he is keen to be part of a team that solves issues.

He said: "I have always been critical of the FAS. It's easy for everyone to be a critic from the outside. But it's time we are part of solving the problem."

He stressed the importance of youth development: "I'm a players' man, I play and coach the game. The FAS must not stint on the development of youth players. We need to take care of their welfare like making sure they are paid a decent allowance. So that they know that there's a future in football and they will continue to play in the game."

Darwin, team manager of reigning NFL champions Eunos Crescent, felt that there is finally a diverse mix of voices within the management. He said: "This isn't exactly a new experience for me. I've always been in the fraternity, but just not in the council."

Singapore Recreation Club (SRC), a FAS affiliate, is supportive of the new appointments. Its games control board chairman Ronnie Chua added that the club could consider returning to participate in the NFL. The club last played in the competition in 2015.

He said: "Previously, (FAS) has been accused of not listening to the ground. So it's good that it has many of these people who are from the grassroots. They can contribute ideas and give feedback to the old hands."

Besides the NFL, women's football is also set to be given a greater level of attention through Sharda's seat in the FAS council.

And she is aware that she has to know the women's football community more intimately now.

She said: "I would always be there to support the national team during their matches because I know the players.

"But now, I cannot sit at one corner of the stadium anymore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Fresh views sought from new members'. Print Edition | Subscribe