When I read that the Singapore Sports School (SSP) thrashed Assumption Pathway School (APS) 32-0 in a preliminary-round B Division boys' football game last week, it shed more light on why our national football standards are not improving (Lopsided 32-0 score in National School Games football match stirs debate, Jan 25).
For more than 10 years, I was part of Jakarta's biggest school football league involving more than 300 schools. I was also chairman of a less competitive league with about 200 players.
We had one mission: Keep it competitive but enjoyable. Players learnt about teamwork and fair play and to persevere, while developing themselves physically and mentally.
We had some very basic rules around teams racking up points. Let me share a few.
In the competitive league, the maximum score counted in each game was a goal difference of five. Additional goals beyond that would not be counted, which meant there was really no benefit in racking up goals against a weaker opponent.
In the non-competitive league, if a team scored more than five, it would have to take a player off for each additional goal. Balance was usually found after the stronger team had taken a few players off. That team would have to pass the ball far more effectively, and everyone could learn.
Coaches of stronger teams were encouraged to try different ideas if they were winning by a large margin, such as instructing their players to string together at least five consecutive passes before scoring, which trained passing techniques, or switching attacking players to defence and vice versa, so that players understood the pressures of different positions.
We look to our schools, especially the SSP, to help raise our football standards. What did they learn from hammering a team 32-0?
A local coach told The Straits Times that the schools format is organised by the Ministry of Education and not the Football Association of Singapore. Why is the ministry playing this role when it knows little about football and what is needed on the field?
Can't organisations here work together to help raise the standards of football in this country?
To APS, which was down 20-0 at half time and continued to play to the final score of 32-0, you are the real winners in my book. I laud the school for teaching the young the true value of sports.
Jaspal Singh Sidhu