Football: FAS revamps league to boost women's game

Warriors FC's Sitianiwati Rosielin (No. 8) is simply ecstatic as she celebrated her second goal with fellow midfielder Azima Ahmad, in the FAS Women's Challenge Cup final against Woodlands Wellington earlier this month at the National Stadium. Warrio
Warriors FC's Sitianiwati Rosielin (No. 8) is simply ecstatic as she celebrated her second goal with fellow midfielder Azima Ahmad, in the FAS Women's Challenge Cup final against Woodlands Wellington earlier this month at the National Stadium. Warriors won 2-0.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Football league will be split into two divisions, making games less one-sided

In a bid to make women's football more competitive and attractive, the existing Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Women's Premier League (WPL) will be split into two divisions from next year.

The top six teams who finished in this year's 11-team league will remain in the WPL, while the remaining teams will form the new second-tier Women's National League (WNL).

The FAS hopes that creating two divisions will make the matches less one-sided. This year in the WPL, one match produced a winning margin of 14 goals.

Julie Teo, the FAS' general manager of grassroots and women's football, said: "We want to make it a more attractive league.

"We saw the big difference in some of the results. If you turn up for a game and then win 10-0 against the beginner teams, then it might not be that competitive for the better players because of the big difference in playing standards. So we want to give the top teams the chance to play in more competitive matches.

"And for the beginners, we hope that more of them will join the league so we want to encourage them so that they will not be so frightened to join the league."

Arion Football Academy defender Sharon Tan, 34, said: "When it's done this way, the matches are going to be more exciting because the teams are more evenly matched.

"Every match is going to be hard-fought.

"Having two divisions is also going to be better for the development of the weaker teams, because when you are constantly overpowered by stronger teams, you might not be given a chance to really showcase your football."

The new format will also make the league season more compact. This year, the league stretched from March to October, followed by the Women's Challenge Cup which ended last month.

But next year, the WNL will run from February to May while the WPL will kick off only in April but end in July.

Teams will play each other twice.

Teo, who is expecting about four to six teams for each of the two leagues, noted: "We felt that the league has been too long and draggy.

"We've planned to revamp the league, something which we have not done in more than five years.

"And I think we're able to do it now because we saw that this year, there are 11 teams who joined the league whereas there were eight teams in previous years."

Due to the growing number of young female footballers, the Women's Youth League will be reinstated in the calendar next year after taking a hiatus this year.

The competition is open to players from 15 to 21 years, with a maximum of three players between the ages of 22 and 25.

Teo said: "We are seeing more students, from secondary school to polytechnic and universities, getting better. So we want to create more opportunities for them to play."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2016, with the headline 'Revamp to boost women's game'. Print Edition | Subscribe