Football: Venue, money mean double happiness for S-League

The S-League match between Albirex Niigata and Tampines Rovers on Feb 26 will be staged at the Singapore Sports Hub.
The S-League match between Albirex Niigata and Tampines Rovers on Feb 26 will be staged at the Singapore Sports Hub.PHOTO: ST FILE

The S-League enjoyed a twin boost yesterday when the Football Association of Singapore confirmed that a league match would be staged at the Singapore Sports Hub for the first time and that the competition's title sponsor would continue to back the event.

The iconic 55,000-seat National Stadium at Kallang will host the Feb 26 Community Shield between defending champions Albirex Niigata and last year's runners-up Tampines Rovers. The season opener also doubles as an S-League match.

Koh Mui Tee, vice-chairman of Albirex, said: "Our players and supporters are all excited to be involved in the first S-League game to be played at the National Stadium.

"We have 150 cheerleaders who have indicated their interest in performing before the kick-off and the numbers could go up to 200, a record for us."

S-League fan Kenneth Chong, 33, an administrative officer for a trading company, said: "It's a good initiative to draw greater attention to the S-League. I hope that when players play at a better facility and pitch, they will be motivated to put up an even better performance for fans."

The FAS also announced that Great Eastern has renewed its title sponsorship of the S-League for two years (2017-2018). It has been a co-title sponsor with Yeo's since 2009.

Lim Kia Tong, the FAS interim president, said: "The S-League is the apex of our football pyramid, and is hugely important to Singapore.

"While we have been working hard to expand the base of the pyramid, it is also essential for us to keep the top healthy."

Manu Sawhney, chief executive officer of the Sports Hub, added: "We look forward to more such opportunities to present local football at the Sports Hub in close collaboration with the FAS ."

A slew of fringe activities will take place on the same day at the Hub. A Football Fanzone will be set up at the OCBC Square where S-League players will make appearances from 2pm to 6pm.

There will also be a Community Shield kids' football tournament between 3pm and 5pm. Of the 12 teams participating in the tournament, eight are from the S-League clubs with the other four teams comprising 40 Under-12 children who are beneficiaries of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

Khor Hock Seng, Great Eastern's group chief executive officer, said: "On and off the field, everyone, including the 40 children, can expect a memorable time."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Venue, money mean double happiness for S-League'. Print Edition | Subscribe