Forum: Instil discipline among national footballers

I worry about the state of indiscipline which continues to drag Singapore football down (Nine Singapore footballers fined by SNOC for breaking curfew at 2019 SEA Games, ST Online, March 7).

Any form of disrespectful behaviour stemming from player ego can have dire consequences on the players as well as team spirit. Left unchecked, this attitude destroys everything a team represents.

What I find worrisome is that with the exception of the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) token slap on the wrist, no other punitive action was taken, especially by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), against the rule breakers.

But it is not just the players who should be castigated - some senior FAS officials should also share the blame.

I have raised this matter privately with some senior FAS officials over the past few years, but little has changed.

I salute former FAS president Zainudin Nordin for working to tackle this problem and hope that incumbent boss Lim Kia Tong (who was in Manila during the SEA Games debacle) will do likewise.

As an Asian Football Confederation-licensed coach and an AFC referee instructor, I know that when it comes to discipline, coaching is similar to teaching and parenting.

The players are very impressionable and a sensitive approach is crucial to maintaining a positive experience on the team.

That said, it is equally important to instil genuine values of hard work, focus and determination by establishing a routine and expectations for players to meet.

But never compromise on discipline.

Suresh Nair

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2020, with the headline 'Instil discipline among national footballers'. Print Edition | Subscribe