Teams' response

S-League clubs back move to stub out unhealthy habit

Home United coach Aidil Sharin (left) and Hougang United coach Philippe Aw. Both have their own club rules regarding smoking. PHOTOS: BERITA HARIAN / THE NEW PAPER

S-League clubs have come out to back the hard stance that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has taken against smoking within the Young Lions.

While the six other local clubs are only encouraged to follow suit, several already have rules established, some even harsher than what the FAS has enacted.

Home United coach Aidil Sharin said: "We have had a rule in place since 2013 that if a member of staff - player, coach or even administrative staff - is caught smoking, they would be sacked, but we've never had any issues at all."

Clubs were unanimous in agreeing that while it would be impossible to police players outside of their time at training venues, and that it would be harsh to demand a smoker quit immediately, they feel that the FAS' strong anti-smoking guidelines is to be lauded.

"We have a problem among of young footballers, and smoking is just one of the symptoms of this lack of professional behaviour," said Hougang United coach Philippe Aw.

"We have to draw the line somewhere."

Like Home, Hougang also have their own club rules regarding smoking.

A player caught for the first time will be warned, with incremental fines being imposed for further offences. The first fine is 10 per cent of a player's monthly wages, with the fine for the second offence going up to 20 per cent.

Warriors FC general manager Paul Poh said that FAS has been in discussion with clubs over the matter, with his side having already taken action.

"We caught three of our young players smoking outside the stadium, and we've already warned them over their behaviour," he said.

"But we must be fair to them and offer counselling, it is impossible for smokers to quit overnight."

Balestier Khalsa pay strict attention to smoking, particularly for their youth teams.

"We fully accept that smoking has become a big problem for football, especially with young players. We've made it known that smoking is a big 'no no' in our youth teams," said club chairman S. Thavaneson.

"I would support any measure however harsh, because we need to eradicate the problem from the sport, and we have to start with the young ones."

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline S-League clubs back move to stub out unhealthy habit. Subscribe