Upbeat Hougang ink physio deal, aim for maiden trophy

After twice leading the club to their highest Singapore Premier League (SPL) finish of third place in the last three seasons, Hougang United coach Clement Teo is gunning for a historic piece of silverware for the modest heartland club who are on the rise.

The 54-year-old said: "We finished third in 2019 and 2021 and must improve on that. We want to make a strong push for the Singapore Cup and make it past the group stage of the AFC Cup."

And the Cheetahs hope their three-year sponsorship deal with The Physio Circle will help them manage the rigours of playing in the three competitions. The deal, worth more than $100,000 annually, will see The Physio Circle's logo emblazoned on the front of the Hougang jersey as it provides sports recovery and rehabilitation services for the club.

During the signing ceremony at its Upper Serangoon Road outlet yesterday, Teo said: "It's challenging because we don't have the same resources, but we want to emulate (SPL champions) Lion City Sailors in terms of how a professional club should train and be run - we want our players to get proper care and recovery as we fight for honours on all three fronts."

The Physio Circle was co-founded by Maheen Gul and Shoban Rahulapaskaran last year, with satellite locations in Kallang and Bukit Timah. The 31-year-old Britons are football fans who also follow SPL action.

Gul said: "When we first started talking to the backroom staff about this partnership, it was clear how knowledgeable and passionate they are about their players not only in terms of their performance but also their overall health and well-being.

"This resonated with our core values and we hope to support them in their journey ahead."

Looking ahead, Teo shared that he has retained 90 per cent of their local roster and Japanese midfielder Kaishu Yamazaki. They have also signed Croatian midfielder Kristijan Krajcek from Balestier Khalsa and defender Artur Vieira and striker Pedro Bortoluzo from Brazil.

Even as they continue to look for creative and strategic partnerships to compete against the privatised Sailors, Hougang chairman Bill Ng hinted that it may not be long before his club follow suit.

While The Straits Times understands that there will not be a new privatised club for the coming season, Ng said: "If the authorities feel privatisation is the way forward, we have partners who are keen, and we are ready for it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2021, with the headline 'Upbeat Hougang ink physio deal, aim for maiden trophy'. Subscribe