Why It Matters

Goal: Football's diverse voices

Judging from the column inches devoted to it, election fever is indeed in the air as the fraternity gears up for the inaugural Football Association of Singapore (FAS) polls.

And there is a real sense that times are indeed a-changing as the composition of the two competing slates, Team LKT headed by lawyer Lim Kia Tong and the Game Changers fronted by Hougang United chairman Bill Ng, shows that the sport now wants to hear from a greater diversity of voices.

In the previous government-appointed FAS council, there was not a single voice from the grassroots or women's football scene.

But Singapore football's first election in over 30 years, which will be held on April 29, will see greater representation from across the sport's spectrum.

The election will still feature candidates who are household names in the sports fraternity, such as Mr Teo Hock Seng, the respected former chairman of S-League club Tampines Rovers, and Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president Annabel Pennefather, a legal eagle with Withers KhattarWong who holds positions with the international athletics and hockey federations.

But there will also be candidates representing the grassroots, such as Mr Zaki Ma'arof, president of National Football League side Kaki Bukit (Game Changers) and woman footballer Sharda Parvin (Team LKT).

In a small country like Singapore, no stone should be left unturned in the effort to widen the talent pool.

And the cornerstone of any successful talent scouting and development programme is the grassroots, which form the base of the talent pyramid.

Paying attention to this group, understanding and dealing with their concerns such as access to facilities and funding, is key to raising the overall standard of football in the country.

After all, the new FAS council, regardless of which team wins, is being elected to represent all of football, not just the elite parts of it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'Goal: Football's diverse voices'. Print Edition | Subscribe