Football: S-League in quest to find new voice

The Football Association of Singapore is looking for new stadium announcers for the 2018 S-League season.
Farez Juraimi (right), a criminology student at the Singapore Institute of Technology, during his audition with FAS marketing manager Ravi Maan at the Jalan Besar Stadium last week. The FAS' plan is to assemble a pool of up to 20 announcers.
Farez Juraimi (right), a criminology student at the Singapore Institute of Technology, during his audition with FAS marketing manager Ravi Maan at the Jalan Besar Stadium last week. The FAS' plan is to assemble a pool of up to 20 announcers.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Stadium announcers to drum up match-day experience, generate more buzz in the stands

Change is in the air for the new S-League season, as the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) rolls out policies to inject youthful vigour as well as to get players fit.

Off the pitch, plans are afoot to jazz up the pre-game segment of matches through the personalities of its stadium announcers.

On Feb 10 and 13, 15 hopefuls attended two auditions at the Jalan Besar Stadium as the FAS sought to unearth new voices.

The trials were conducted by FAS marketing manager Ravi Maan.

He is a seasoned announcer himself, having hosted the 2015 South-east Asia Games on home soil as well as numerous Singapore international football matches and LionsXII clashes against Malaysian sides.

The S-League has suffered from poor attendance and declining playing standards in recent years.

REINVIGORATING FANS, PLAYERS

It's not just about announcing the starting XI, he has to build up the excitement to the moment these footballing gladiators come out of the tunnel. Also, we want to make the players feel like rock stars and they will be pumped up to perform.

RAVI MAAN, the FAS' marketing manager, on what is expected of a stadium announcer.

But Maan, a 33-year-old with a three-year-old beard, hopes to arrest the slide by rolling out what he terms as "match-day experience" at local stadiums to generate more buzz on the terraces.

He said: "This season, we hope to reinvigorate things and the fans will be key. The announcer has to treat it (pre-match entertainment) as a show, he is the conductor of an orchestra made up of fans.

"It's not just about announcing the starting XI, he has to build up the excitement to the moment these footballing gladiators come out of the tunnel.

"Also, we want to make the players feel like rock stars and they will be pumped up to perform."

Farez Juraimi, a 25-year-old criminology student at the Singapore Institute of Technology, was one of those who auditioned for the role.

He said: "I've always had a passion for hosting and my other love is local football. So this (becoming a stadium announcer) is a chance to give back to the sport."

Nicholas Yeo, who runs a private football academy, was once part of the Kallang Roar during the Malaysia Cup days and he yearns to see packed terraces during S-League matches.

The 38-year-old said: "Without fans, it is hard for the players to play well. A crowd that cheers for the team will make the players believe they can win.

"My family and I bonded during the 1994 Malaysia Cup as the atmosphere was so good. It is disappointing to see that dying out in the S-League, so it's good if I can help to create some hype in the stands."

According to Maan, announcers are not only expected to read out team line-ups with gusto and get the fans excited. He hopes they can also provide more value-add to the crowd through what he calls "a proper match-day experience".

That means doing research and providing statistics, form guides and data on players to watch. Other assets at the announcers' disposal are gizmos like the "fan cam" that zooms in on spectators and projects their images on big screens and noise meters to get them off their seats.

Playlists will also be curated to build up excitement in the stands and the songs need to reflect the identity of the home team.

The classic rock anthem Eye of the Tiger, springs to mind when it comes to Balestier Khalsa, who are nicknamed the Tigers.

"That will create more emotion and oomph even before the game starts," explained Maan, whose trademark beard came about because he was too exhausted to shave after hosting the 2015 SEA Games.

The plan is to assemble a pool of up to 20 announcers and Maan believes that having a good voice is not the only prerequisite.

He said: "I'm laid-back, some are more vibrant but, most importantly, the announcer's passion needs to shine through.

"You need to be able to translate your emotion to the fans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2018, with the headline 'S-League in quest to find new voice'. Print Edition | Subscribe