Many football fans are really saddened at the abysmal state of Singapore's football scene in recent years, as illustrated by our rapid fall in the Fifa world rankings. Then there are the repeated failings in various senior and age-group tournaments these past few years.
The sorry state of affairs was reinforced by the recent SEA Games disaster, epitomised by the unforgivable behaviour of nine footballers who broke curfew.
The Football Association of Singapore may be trying its best to revive our football, but I think that however good the structural changes and systemic programmes being rolled out, they would be rendered ineffective if the mindsets of the players do not change.
There have been anecdotes of our national and league footballers adopting a lifestyle that is unbefitting of a professional footballer. Keeping late nights, eating unhealthy food before and after matches, smoking, not putting in extra training hours and so on are not uncommon stories passed around the football circle here.
Lions captain Hariss Harun has shown that to be, and remain as, a top-notch professional footballer, lots of sacrifices and self-care are needed (The Professionals: Eking out a career in sports, Sept 14, 2019). It is hence no surprise to all that Hariss can achieve so much.
For this year and beyond, I can only wish and pray that all current and aspiring professional footballers can take a leaf out of Hariss' book to hopefully lift Singapore football out of the doldrums.