Looking forward to 2017: The sports desk's wishes

A new year of hopes and dreams


Sports fans, welcome to 2017.

Another 12 months of sporting action are before us, with new memories and moments to be forged.

From reviving football to greater support for local sports, from a legend's one last hurrah to remembering why we love sport, here's what The Sunday Times' Sports Desk is looking forward to this year.

Have fun but let's practise safe sport

Lee Yulin, Sports Editor

The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore is often a sight to behold. Tens of thousands of runners, united in a sweaty passion, gathering under the glittering lights on Orchard Road.

There is, rightfully, pride and celebration at the end of a fine effort. But this year, there was also sorrow. For an athlete felled in the prime of his life.

We do not yet know what caused Hong Kong-based Briton John Gibson, 29, to collapse about a kilometre from the finish line of the half-marathon. But we do know this: His death was the 10th in an endurance sports event here in 11 years (since 2005).


To see Messi and Ron on same side

Rohit Brijnath, Assistant Sports Editor

What's better than Nadal and Federer on the same side of the court, LeBron and Curry passing to each other, or Bolt and Gatlin in the same relay foursome?

Ronaldo and Messi playing for the same team in 2017.

It will be fun, it will be riveting, it will be controversial but it will work because their egos will ensure it does. They will mug defenders, hoodwink rivals and their best goal-scoring days together will be known as CriMe sprees.


More eye-popping moments, please

Chia Han Keong, Assistant Sports Editor

It's very easy to satisfy us sports junkies. All we crave each year are moments of jaw-dropping athletic feats which redefine what the human body is able to achieve.

These moments have us breaking into spontaneous applause, watching them repeatedly on YouTube and gushing incessantly to bemused friends for most of the next year.

It could be a monstrous slam dunk by any of those talented NBA players. It could be a flawless gymnastics floor routine by those pint-sized yet big-hearted girls. It could be a 50-stroke rally between two tennis players that leaves both gasping for air. Or it could be a simple lob by a footballer - from beyond the centre line into goal.


A new footballing son to emerge

Wang Meng Meng

The recent failure of the national football team, and the various developmental squads, shows that it could be years before Singapore football is back on an even keel. But we can hope, can't we, in 2017, for at least one dynamic player to come and bravely light up the game again.

Fandi Ahmad's Uefa Cup goal for Dutch club Groningen against Inter Milan in 1983 and Indra Sahdan's strikes against Manchester United (2001) and Japan (2004) were moments that saw fans celebrate together, regardless of which European club they supported. To us it was a local boy done good, a kid from the heartlands scoring against the superstars of the game.

No Singaporean has made an impact in Europe since Fandi returned from Holland in 1985 and Daniel Bennett's spell with Swindon Town in 2001. Hopefully, a player will make the grade in Europe this year, to earn a contract and a first-team place.


Return of the Tiger will be familiar feel

Jonathan Wong

I have been spoilt as a sports fan. As I grew up, my romance with sport coincided with the peak of Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer.

But now all have either retired or are in the twilight of their careers and it feels like the passing of a personal era. The legends are fading and I crave for one last hurrah from them.

Which is why I want nothing more than to see Tiger Woods win a golf Major in 2017.


Halt internal battles, fight for the athletes

May Chen

In 2016, we witnessed factions within national sports associations in Singapore and divisions between officials and athletes. There was plenty of fighting in the sporting arena, but just not enough of the kind that is needed.

This year has to be better.

Athletes pour the best years of their lives into their sport, competing for themselves and their country, never knowing if sweat will end in success. They are the reason we watch sport and they deserve our unwavering support in return.


Don't give short shrift to cricket

V.K. Santosh Kumar

The lack of a home ground for the national cricket team to train or play warm-up matches reflects a shocking state of affairs. It is plain indifference to a sport that could well garner a gold at August's SEA Games or a medal at the next Asian Games.

Not many know that national cricket leagues in Singapore feature nearly 110 teams and that Singapore is ranked 24th out of 105 sides in the world - a ranking that is probably bettered only by the netballers and the women's table tennis team.

Yet, the national Under-19 squad, who entered the Asia Cup for the first time last month, and the senior squad, who will be featuring in the World Cricket League Division 3 in May and then the SEA Games, do not have proper facilities to call their own.


More rivalry in F1 will reignite passion

David McMahon

New year, new season, new rules. And to top it all off, Formula One has new owners - Liberty Media. What I want to see is teams who can genuinely challenge the dominant Mercedes team. Let's have real, sustained competition across the grid.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg won a total of 19 out of 21 races last year, the other two being won by Red Bull. But a team or three to redefine that lopsided competition would breathe new life into the sport.

The best F1 seasons are those that encompass great rivalries and much in the manner of Alain Prost and the late Ayrton Senna, the quality of competition between Hamilton and Rosberg provided the central focus of seasons past.


Parents should push their kids to play

Chua Siang Yee

One of the most important takeaways from the success of Joseph Schooling and Yip Pin Xiu is that it is possible to excel as an athlete and a student.

Schooling is an economics major at the University of Texas and Yip a social sciences undergraduate at the Singapore Management University.

We often hear stories, especially from coaches, of how parents stop their children from training when examinations are around the corner. But that is a limiting approach and frankly, an unhealthy one.


Schools must stand up for sport

Alvin Chia

It was refreshing to witness Syed Hussein Aljunied become the fastest runner at the Schools National Cross-Country Championships last year.

Refreshing because the Pasir Ris Secondary 4 student, now at Victoria Junior College, had to submit a request to the school to allow him to take up running as a co-curricular activity since the sport was not offered as one.

It was heartening to know Tanjong Katong Secondary's (TKSS) football teacher-in-charge Roy Soh brought in four coaches, who eventually helped TKSS become the new B and C Division champions.


Let student-athletes have their soapbox

Nicole Chia

Following a year where Singapore's excellent student-athletes returned home from the 8th Asean Schools Games in Chiang Mai with 13 golds, 14 silvers and 30 bronzes, I'd like to see just one thing: for school officials to trust these athletes more.

Trust our young athletes in 2017 by letting them speak their minds. Trust them by letting them take responsibility for their words. Trust them by letting them learn from their own mistakes - both on and off the pitch.

These children may be young, but they are also far more intelligent, funny and resilient than people give them credit for. Teachers have to let them express their personalities. After all, in the competitive sporting arena only confidence will work, not timidity.


Fair play from all - from officials to fans

Lee Wai Khim

This Everton and Los Angeles Lakers fan won't waste his hopes on a Premier League or an NBA trophy. Won't happen. But there are only that many medals and trophies and really what counts most is heart, character, style and, above all, fair play.

Let's hope for that this year.

Let's also hope that athletes know that we're behind them all the way if they give their all - whether they are from Bedok or Beijing.


Patience the virtue that often pays off

Steven Pak

There might be plenty more failures and pain in Singapore football before things get better. And so I wish local fans would be more patient.

As important as the destination is, the journey - of passion and joy and hope and desperation - is fun too.

Fans grow old waiting for success and some never see it. But generations keep watching and some are eventually rewarded for their faith and devotion.


Getting more looks at sport's best side

Lin Xinyi

In a year that may bring about the first £100 million (S$179 million) footballer, and which will certainly see doping stay in the spotlight, I hope to witness moments that remind us why we love sport.

Moments that tell us winning is important but not everything. Moments that tell us being a sports fan is priceless - even if we disagree with football transfer fees and wages inflated to surreal levels and sport becoming too commercialised.

I would like to see Ronaldinho and Juan Roman Riquelme get the chance to play for the stricken Chapecoense football club. Both have offered to play for free after the air tragedy that killed 19 players from the Brazilian team.


Let sport be platform for goodwill & hope

Lok Jian Wen

After a rather fractious year, sport appeared to be one of the few things that, for those few dazzling seconds, allowed the world to celebrate more than denigrate the acts of our fellow man.

Leicester rolled up their sleeves, put their heads down and showed us how hard work, and not just oil money, can lead to championships. In Singapore, it was a kid who beat the king that brought a nation to cheer in unison in front of their screens (live, thankfully).

In the coming year, I hope for sport to once more provide that platform for goodwill and hope.


Time for football to get with the times

Andy Ng

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said he is a fan of it while Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane feels it will complicate the game.

But like it or not, the video assistant referees (VARs) Fifa experimented with last month are meant to ensure fair play. And it should be encouraged.

While there may be concerns that the new technology may create confusion or disrupt the flow of play, it should still be implemented. Especially since there are innumerable contentious decisions - red cards, penalties, offsides, whether a ball has crossed the goal-line - every week in the English Premier League and beyond.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 01, 2017, with the headline 'Looking forward to 2017: The Sunday Times' Sports Desk's wishes'. Print Edition | Subscribe