FAS election 2017

Football: A revamp of S'pore football not needed but Team LKT will change all facets of the game

Bernard Tan
Bernard Tan
Lim Tong Hai
Lim Tong Hai

With broad strokes aimed at the full spectrum of Singapore football, Team LKT hopes it can paint the masterpiece that will revive the floundering sport, should it win the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election.

Headed by FAS presidential hopeful Lim Kia Tong, the team released its election manifesto yesterday evening. Based on three key principles - change, inclusiveness and integrity - a 10-point plan was laid out (in a 4-4-2 formation) to transform every facet of the game: elite level, cerebral palsy, grassroots, social, and women's football.

It shares several similar points with the Strategic Plan, launched in 2010, which mapped out a route to success through elite development, the building of a National Training Centre (NTC) and tapping into sports science.

Said Lim: "We cannot act like a new sheriff in town and tear down everything. The Strategic Plan earned a lot of accolades, including praise from Fifa. When you have respect from that level, the new team has to look into it. Then, the plan is good but perhaps, the manner of execution wasn't.

"There is no need for a full revamp (of Singapore football) but there is an absolute need for change."

The national team and its various age-group sides' recent failings have been blamed on a top-heavy pyramid structure, where resources have been largely channelled to the elite squads, while the grassroots has been neglected.

BUILD FROM BOTTOM UP

The way the game is played, we need to move to a Singapore style of football which is higher in tempo and intensity. The FAS cannot do it alone, we have to create an FAS that works with the entire community.

BERNARD TAN, Team LKT nominee to be deputy president, on the need to engage the grassroots football in Singapore

SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE

Having played the game and also having the knowledge of handling various teams, we’re looking at how best we can add value to the youth developmental side.

LIM TONG HAI, Team LKT member, on how former international players can help develop local football

According to the FAS' 2015-16 financial report, its total revenue was $35.8 million and more than $16 million was spent on the S-League and another $8 million on the national teams' training.

The total organising expenses for domestic grassroots competitions was about $112,000, before $41,500 of income from registration fees was included.

"We all need to make a real change, especially the grassoots," intoned Bernard Tan, who is the team's candidate for the deputy president post.

"The way the game is played, we need to move to a Singapore style of football which is higher in tempo and intensity. The FAS cannot do it alone, we have to create an FAS that works with the entire community - past, present and future."

To effect change, Team LKT wants to rebuild the pyramid, brick by brick, and with a bigger and better foundation where players can see clear pathways leading to the apex.

There will be work to create greater harmony between public and private academies, and collaboration with more schools, to increase the number of kids and youths playing football as they form the basic building blocks of the football community.

Moving up, Team LKT wants to pay more attention to the weekend warriors that play social football, even veteran players, by creating more competitions.

At the competitive level, the struggling S-League will be reviewed while the amateur National Football League (NFL) will be reorganised and expanded.

And running through this spine of youth, social, amateur and professional levels will be clear pathways for players aged 10 to 19 to follow.

With more competitions and greater support from sports science which backed by an FAS adminstration that values transparency and accountability, it is hoped the nation's talent pool will grow.

But Team LKT will also revisit certain projects and ideas that did not came into fruition.

For example, the NTC, a dedicated facility with at least five pitches and sports science support for the FAS' various squads, had been mooted in the Strategic Plan and remains on the drawing board.

Tan recognises that, saying: "Things take time and we cannot promise (building the NTC) because we are not the land authority. But if we want to succeed, the NTC is important."

But Lim added that work has already been undertaken to realise this vision.

He said: "This new team, if we say something, we will work very fast towards it.

"The provisional council has already started talking to the revelvant people. If we come on board (as the elected council), you will see action and you can see the fruits pretty soon."

With these structures in place and driven by the team's ethos, it is envisaged that the Lions can consistently win at the South-east Asian level while qualifying regularly for the Asian Cup finals and the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.

Other targets were also set for the various age-group squads as well as the women's and cerebral palsy teams.

But the team is not zeroing in on climbing up the Fifa world rankings table, where Singapore are 163rd, as ranking points can be chalked up by playing friendlies against lesser nations.

"If we can achieve those targets, we will be a top-100 team," Tan said.

Teams contesting in a slate will need a minimum of two-thirds - or 30 - of the 44 votes to win. Individual candidates need a simple majority to win.

The election will be held at the Sports Hub on April 29.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'A 4-4-2 system for change'. Print Edition | Subscribe