Former Woodlands Wellington general manager R. Vengadasalam thinks he knows what has gone wrong with Singapore football.
As the 56-year-old assembles a team to contest the upcoming Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election of its council members, the hopefuls are targeting a revival of the grassroots scene to garner his team the votes.
Speaking at a meeting he called with a total of 19 National Football League (NFL) and Islandwide League (IWL) club representatives last night at the Metropolitan YMCA, Venga, flanked by lawyer Alfred Dodwell and football management consultant Ronnie Lee, spelt out his team's vision under the manifesto "For the betterment of Singapore Football".
Venga, a landscape contractor who is the team's campaign manager, said: "The team want to look at the base of Singapore football. I do not just want to see 200 players playing in the Under-14 tournament, I want it to be 2,000 youths. We hope that thousands of players, masses, will play in the leagues."
Several clubs, including the Women's Premier League representatives, took turns to air their grievances about the lack of support given to them by the FAS, which include having to resort to sharing a field when there is a clash in pitch bookings.
Eunos Crescent Football Club's team manager Darwin Jalil, 32, has already been won over by Venga's presentation.
Stags confident despite defeat
Tampines Rovers' task of advancing to the semi-finals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup suffered a setback as they lost 0-1 to India's Bengaluru FC in their quarter-final first-leg clash yesterday.
Stags' coach Akbar Nawas lamented his players' sluggish start to the game, which allowed C.K. Vineeth to score an early goal for Bengaluru.
He noted: "We allowed our opponents to go past us too easily. Defensively, we were not compact enough."
But he is confident that his players will overturn the deficit when the two sides meet at the return leg at Jalan Besar next Wednesday.
Akbar said: "We have to turn up from the very start of the next game. We need to start brighter and step up for the game."
He said: "They (the FAS) need to engage us - the stakeholders. It's not just about giving us a voice, but it's about us being represented.
"We hope that they can engage us more in ideas, and to be more involved in the grassroots level on the ground. We also hope to see more teams in the IWL and NFL."
Venga remains coy on revealing his team's line-up in an election that is shaping up to be a four-cornered contest.
FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong is believed to be leading a team from the association that includes fellow vice-president Bernard Tan and Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson. Hougang United chairman Bill Ng has declared his intention to run as well. A fourth team, yet to be named, is also in the mix.
The FAS is set to hold an open and full election for the first time in over 30 years. At next Saturday's annual general meeting, the association's constitution will be amended to allow for a full election of its council members, including its president.