All-round calibre is key for new awards

Five core values to govern Pentagon Awards, which enshrine unique method of recognition

South-east Asian football is set to enjoy another set of honours, albeit slightly different in concept.

The Pentagon Awards will recognise men and women who have contributed to the sport both on and off the pitch, in addition to sporting excellence.

They are the brainchild of Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra, who said he felt that football in the region, and especially in Singapore, needed to "start reclaiming the stature and recognition it used to enjoy".

He added: "We need to institutionalise sporting icons... to recognise all the stakeholders in the game."

Four awards - The Leaders' Leader, The Inspiring Referee, The Up and Coming Footballer and The Health and Fitness title - will be given out. A fifth, The Entrepreneurial Footballer, will be launched.

Nominees are judged based on the awards' five core values - innovation, honour, enterprise, leadership and responsibility.

  • Pentagon Awards

  • The Leaders' Leader Award

    Recognises the leader of a football institution who has made an innovative, inspiring and positive impact on football in their country.

  • The Entrepreneurial Footballer Award

    Seed funding for a selected business venture conceptualised by a retiring or recently-retired Singaporean professional footballer.

    Applications will open after the awards night. Details to come.

  • The Inspiring Referee Award

    To recognise a referee who has positively transformed the image of the men in black and is seen as a role model for aspiring referees.

  • The Up and Coming Footballer Award

    Given to a male or female teenage footballer who not only displays the talent and skills to be a future star but also possesses the attitude and virtues needed to be a success on and off the pitch.

  • The Health and Fitness Award

    Given to a professional footballer who is able to maintain the same demanding health and fitness regimen after his or her career.

The panel of judges includes national coaches, a national technical director, referee commissioners and S-League club chairmen.

The awards ceremony will be held on April 9 at the Fullerton Bay Hotel. On the guest list are Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck, Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and Johor Princess Tunku Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

The Asian Football Confederation will be represented by its vice-president Winston Lee, who is also general secretary of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

Ramachandra, a corporate lawyer, explained that he wanted to move away from traditional football awards, which typically honour the best players, coaches, goals etc.

"The Pentagon awards are unique as they do not seek out traditional award winners but rather... cornerstone values, initiatives and stakeholders which contribute to the game and the fraternity," said Ramachandra, managing director at Duane Morris & Selvam LLP.

An example of the awards' distinctive approach is a cash subsidy for a retiring or recently-retired local footballer's business venture.

He or she will receive seed funding and mentoring from Vinod Nair, a former fund manager who is sponsoring this award.

"Instead of retraining footballers into another vocation, why not encourage them to start something new, especially since they are already equipped with some entrepreneurial skills from sports, like managing people, public relations and self-promotion," said Nair.

Former S-League and national footballer Jeremy Chiang, who co-owns a food and beverage business with his wife, welcomed the innovative awards.

The 30-year-old said: "It's refreshing that the awards will recognise different aspects of the game.

"I'm excited by the business award. It pushes footballers to really think about the future and come up with ideas.

"You never know what you can come up with."

The ceremony doubles up as a fund-raiser for Tampines. There will also be a charity auction held, with the proceeds going to Beyond Social Services, an organisation that works with disadvantaged youths.

Ramachandra aims to give out the awards every year, although he is happy to let other club chairmen or organisations run the show in the future.

He said: "In essence, the awards are designed to have individuals and teams set high goals and keep up the pursuit of excellence until the goals are reached.

"We hope it will galvanise the entire football community and create region-wide camaraderie in the sport of football, where Singapore takes the lead."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'ALL-ROUND CALIBRE IS KEY FOR NEW AWARDS'. Subscribe