Key to reviving Singapore football

Last Thursday, Sport Singapore (SportSG) revealed that it will be administering the Tote Board's funding to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS). The amount, reportedly $25 million annually, will be disbursed over the next financial year starting from April.

SportSG's move is significant.

The FAS will have to account for and justify the use of the funds. At a time when the sport is ailing, perhaps a second opinion is needed to decide what is the best way to use that $25 million. After all, the bulk of that sum goes towards high performance, which has underperformed in recent years. Some $16 million is for the S-League, which has been struggling to gain traction with fans, while the Lions' and various age-group teams - which receive about $8 million - have turned in poor results lately.

There have also been accusations that the FAS has not focused enough on the grassroots.

Previously, the FAS was the only national sports association (NSA) to manage its own money. The move helps the Tote Board streamline its practices as its funds to other NSAs are disbursed by SportSG, a tried and trusted gatekeeper of public money.

Some also feel that with the fraternity due to elect its leaders, instead of having the Government appoint them, having SportSG hold the purse strings is a good safeguard.

It also puts the FAS on par with other NSAs, which are overseen by SportsSG.

The agency has also made good progress with its ActiveSG initiative, the national movement for sport. Its football school, helmed by former national striker Aleksandar Duric, has more than 750 children under its wing since its launch last May.

By working hand in hand with the FAS on its funding, this could lead to greater synergy between the association's youth development programme and the ActiveSG Football Academy.

Perhaps, with SportSG now controlling access to the funds, the foundations of Singapore football will be better nourished, and hopefully, churn out better players to get the sport back on its feet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Key to reviving S'pore football'. Print Edition | Subscribe