Football: Team ethos the priority for women candidates

Dr Teoh Chin Sim (left) and Annabel Pennefather are two of the four vice-presidential candidates on Bill Ng's team, the Game Changers, who will contest the FAS election on April 29.
Dr Teoh Chin Sim (above) and Annabel Pennefather are two of the four vice-presidential candidates on Bill Ng's team, the Game Changers, who will contest the FAS election on April 29.ST FILE PHOTOS

Pennefather, Teoh to offer fresh approach, saying football is also a part of their lives

They have no experience as football administrators but Annabel Pennefather and Dr Teoh Chin Sim believe they are well equipped to drag the ailing sport out of the doldrums.

Pennefather and Dr Teoh were named on Saturday as two of the four vice-presidential candidates on Bill Ng's team, the Game Changers, for the April 29 FAS election.

The Hougang United chairman scored a coup when he persuaded the Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president and Team Singapore chief medical officer at the 2015 SEA Games to be on his nine-man slate.

Pennefather, 68, pointed to Fifa's example of appointing Fatma Samoura, a Senegalese, as its first female secretary general last May as a case in point of a woman from outside the football scene who can be a breath of fresh air, in what is usually seen as a male-dominated sport.

The lawyer at leading firm Withers KhattarWong told The Straits Times: "That is exactly what I believe I can bring to the game: A fresh wind and new perspectives.

"I want to bring my sports administration and legal expertise to the table and to the ground to serve our footballers of both genders, and I believe that together with the Game Changers, we can make a meaningful and positive difference."


Annabel Pennefather. ST FILE PHOTOS

CHALLENGING PERCEPTIONS

We believe in bringing fresh perspectives, hearts, and minds, like Annabel and Dr Teoh, to the team... The perception that "only football people can serve football" is a relic.

BILL NG, explaining why his slate offers strong governance.

Dr Teoh, 52, the director and senior consultant of the sports medicine centre at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, hopes that she can offer more than just her expertise in medicine to Singapore football.

She said: "I think access to quality medical care, optimising sports performance through sports science and sports safety are areas that we can continue to improve upon, working with the FAS medical staff as well as FAS medical committee.

"It is sometimes not easy to get the buy-in and support of every stakeholder as each has his own priorities. However, I am a 'team' person and work on the premise that people are generally helpful, so it is important that I understand first what others want so that I can reach a place of synergy to get things done."

Pennefather and Dr Teoh pointed out that football had long been part of their sporting DNAs.

Pennefather's grandfather, Lancelot Maurice Pennefather, represented Singapore in the Malaysia Cup between 1922 to 1928, winning the trophy four times.

Born in Singapore, Dr Teoh was raised in Sarawak and played football in her childhood. During the Malaysia Cup days, she was on medical duty at the National Stadium while the likes of Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundramoorthy played. In the previous decade, she attended to the Home United women's team.

In the opposite camp, led by FAS provisional council president Lim Kia Tong, the female candidate is Sharda Parvin, a 32-year-old Tanjong Pagar United player. She was nominated to contest one of the six individual council seats.

Pennefather, who is currently a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) ethics commission, said: "Due to my heavy involvement in Singapore sports administration, I probably have the most experience of any candidate in terms of local NSA (national sports association) administration.

"Overall, I see myself contributing especially in governance and compliance matters, as I am very familiar with how NSAs are run, and I shall bring my range of both international and local experience to support the Game Changers in all respects needed to run a successful and well-managed NSA."

Dr Teoh added: "While I have no direct experience managing a national sports association, I believe that being in touch with the ground is very important as a starting point.

"And this is where I hope to begin, given the opportunity."

Ng, who is contesting the presidential seat in the council and is the leader of the Game Changers, has complete faith in his two female team-mates.

He said: "This may be unorthodox, but we believe in bringing fresh perspectives, hearts, and minds, like Annabel and Dr Teoh, to the team. I am sure that they can contribute to Singapore football in an electrifying way.

"The perception that 'only football people can serve football' is a relic. In today's modern sporting era, we need a combination of expertise, open minds, clear vision and communication to bring our beautiful game roaring into the new era."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2017, with the headline 'Team ethos their priority'. Print Edition | Subscribe