THE Young Lions crashing out of the group stage of the SEA Games is a good reflection of the level of football in Singapore, both in terms of player capability and our country's efforts to take the sport to the next level ("A football dream that imploded"; last Saturday).
Allowing coach Aide Iskandar to quit will not answer the question of why we are still lagging behind our neighbours despite making so much effort over the past few years.
The Football Association of Singapore adopts the management style of famous footballing nations in Europe, where several teams and managers engage in different tournaments.
However, in Singapore, where active support is weak, we do not have such luxury. We should, instead, have one key manager, with several coaches managing one team consisting of 50 to 60 players in the national squad.
This team will compete in all events and the team of coaches will have the opportunity to try out various tactics and combinations with the pool of players.
The national team should engage in at least one game a week.
The employment of top coaches has to be for a longer term, to enable lessons learnt from the practice matches to be tweaked.
Next, we need to address how we can increase the talent pool.
Foreign imports are definitely not the way to go.
Football is also not a sport where individual players can win gold medals. It is a team sport and we need 11 top players to win matches. There is still room for local talent to be nurtured if we engage schools properly.
Meanwhile, friendlies with top Asian league teams should be organised to increase our national team's competitiveness.
None of the national players should be engaged in S-League competitions. In fact, this league should be the feeder league for the national squad.
At the end of the day, the national players need recognition as well as monetary rewards. After all, there is a price to pay for their sacrifice and ability.
A proper benchmarking of salaries against abilities should be done. Perhaps national players could be given at least a five-figure monthly salary.
This may be very costly, so the question we must ask ourselves is whether this sport is worth the money.
Choo Swee Hock