Scrapping S-League will weaken S'pore football

WHILE there is no doubt that the S-League may not be as popular as the Malaysia Cup and the Malaysia Super League, we should consider the ramifications on Singapore football if we were to scrap it ("Scrap the S-League and challenge the world" by Mr Tay Hong Yi; Forum Online, last Saturday).

Scrapping the S-League is likely to lead to a shrinking of Singapore's already small pool of football talent.

In order to convince athletes to take up football professionally, there must be avenues for individuals to make a decent living out of it. The S-League provides this.

Getting rid of the S-League in favour of the LionsXII will not be beneficial in this respect.

There is a limited number of places in the LionsXII, which means there would be less opportunity for talented individuals to play professional football.

It could further discourage individuals from pursuing a football career, as the chances of success will decrease.

Many are already discouraged from pursuing a football career, as they see football as a risky, winner-takes-all game, where only a small pool of players can succeed in making a viable career for themselves.

With fewer places open, the already risk-averse Singaporeans will be further discouraged from playing the game, and will switch to other, less risky professions.

This will, thus, serve to reduce the talent pool of Singapore football considerably, weakening the national team.

As much as Singaporeans feel a greater loyalty to the national team than the S-League clubs, the latter still has a role to play to maintain the size of Singapore's football talent pool.

Perhaps, instead, we should attempt to increase sponsorship from wealthy corporations for S-League clubs to make the league more commercially viable, and improve incentives for players.

This may go some way to improve the quality of the game, thus attracting a wider audience.

Singaporeans used to have a great interest in the S-League and supported their clubs with gusto. We should continue to give our S-League a chance.

Ng Qi Siang

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