Football: SLA sets new operating hours for Home United Youth Football Academy, club hails 'positive development'

The two main pitches at the Home United Youth Football Academy (HYFA) in Mattar Road.
The two main pitches at the Home United Youth Football Academy (HYFA) in Mattar Road.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has set new operating hours for the two football pitches at the Home United Youth Football Academy (HYFA) along Mattar Road.

The new operating hours, which will take effect from Saturday (Feb 11), were decided after discussions with the S-League club, following feedback from residents in the area. They had been complaining about the noise generated by users of the facility since last year.

According to a statement from the SLA on Friday (Feb 10), the new arrangements "seek to balance support for the development of HUFC's youth football activities and addressing the concerns of residents".

Under the new operating hours, HUFC may conduct youth training activities on the two football pitches from 7pm to 9pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.

On weekends, Home may operate the football pitches from 9am to 6pm on Saturdays, and from 4pm to 7pm on Sundays, for training and community engagement programmes organised by the the club.

These are in addition to the current operating hours of 9am to 7pm on weekdays, for which public bookings are allowed.

HUFC chief executive Azrulnizam Shah Sohaimi said: "The revised operating hours is a positive development, and will still allow the Home United Youth Football Academy (HYFA) to continue to organise some of its community as well as youth training activities.

"The HYFA is part of the MacPherson community. Home United Football Club will ensure that our activities do not excessively inconvenience residents, while we continue to pursue HYFA's mission of developing local football talent and developing character in youths.

"We appreciate and thank our residents and the agencies for their understanding,"

Tin Pei Ling, the MP for MacPherson and adviser to MacPherson Grassroots Organisation said: "I appreciate the efforts of the SLA and Home United Football Club in listening to local feedback.

"Residents have always understood the importance of coexistence and the need for give and take in a diverse and built-up community like ours. They appreciate a compromise that balances the needs of residents, whose homes and families are built here, and the broader sporting community."

Despite the new operating hours, some affected residents are dreading the return of the noise arising from the football activities.

One resident, a father of two young children who lives in Block 126, which is nearest to HYFA, told The Straits Times that he is thinking of moving out of the block.

He said: "I'm disappointed because in the first place, the issue is that the usage of the land is wrong. Using it for one day, two days or three days is still loudness. It's just how much lesser I am disturbed by the noise.

"Am I happier? I think so.

"But am I satisfied? No, I am not.

"I can only hope that when it's 2020, when the lease is up, the SLA will not renew it."

But another resident living in the same block, Alan Hoong, 56, took a more conciliatory tone, saying he is "willing to give them (HYFA) a chance".

He said: "This is a step forward for us.

"I hope that now, they have realised how bad things can be if the noise is not controlled. Now that they can use the space, it's up to them to plan their activities bearing in mind that they should not make too much noise.

"Our concern is that over time, the noise will go back to how bad it was previously.

"We hope that the SLA will continue to monitor the noise levels after this, and not say that this is the conclusion."

On Nov 24, the SLA had slapped an injunction on the facility, ordering Home to cease its activities at the two football pitches on weekends and after 7pm on weekdays. This was in response to residents' complaints about noise and inconvenience stemming from the activities on the football pitches.

Following the injunction, football academy JSSL Singapore, one of the major users of the facility, was forced to find a new venue to conduct its programmes. It has since relocated to The Arena at Woodleigh Park.

HYFA, a 25-ha facility, opened in February 2013 and it signed a new three-year lease last April.