Football: We have waited a long time for longer contracts, say local footballers

Tampines Rovers striker Khairul Amri celebrates with his teammate during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup opening group match against Felda United on Feb 21, 2017.
Tampines Rovers striker Khairul Amri celebrates with his teammate during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup opening group match against Felda United on Feb 21, 2017. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Khairul Amri has had a storied career in football. He has amassed 120 caps for Singapore and scored 32 times for his country, including in three AFF Suzuki Cup finals which the Lions won.

But earlier this month, the striker, who turns 33 next March, did something he has never done before: sign a three-year S-League contract.

His deal with Tampines Rovers is being heralded by some as a shift in the mentality of local clubs.

He said: "It's good to have the security that comes with a long-term contract.

"For the team, it helps to build the understanding. For the individual, it helps with the financial planning.

"I have two sons, eight and four, and my wife and I are planning to try for a daughter.


Tampines Rovers striker Khairul Amri feels that the security from a three-year contract can help him better plan his finances as he and his wife Eva Nooraliffiah are trying for a daughter. With them are elder son Rif'al Matin, 8, and younger son Khaliesh Wafi, 4. PHOTO COURTESY OF KHAIRUL AMRI

"So I was advised by our chairman (Desmond Ong) to plan our finances and also think about life after football by going for courses.

"I already have an AFC (Asian Football Confederation) C Coaching Licence and may take the B Licence next year."

Veterans like Amri and Tampines and Lions team-mate Daniel Bennett, who turns 40 next month and has agreed to a two-year contract, earn between $5,000 and $10,000 a month.

The peace of mind that comes from these extended deals also translates into better performances on the field, noted Balestier Khalsa goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.

"In games, you feel pressure and fear, not of losing the match but of performing for a contract. Your concentration is affected, and some players overdo it."

The 30-year-old Tigers skipper recently signed a two-year extension to his previous deal with Balestier, which was also for two years. He turned professional in 2009 at Gombak United and recalled living in a constant state of worry throughout his early career.

The father of two toddlers noted: "When you are on a one-year contract, you start to worry halfway through the season. Is the club going to talk to me?

  • S-LEAGUE MONTHLY SALARIES

  • UNDER-23 LOCAL PLAYER

    $0.5-2.5k

    LOCAL PLAYER (NON-NATIONAL TEAM)

    $2-3.5k

    SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL

    $5-10k

    FOREIGN PLAYER

    $4-$10k

"And you get even more worried about picking up a serious injury, because the club might not renew your contract and no other clubs would want to sign an injured player.

"So, for me, longer contracts are a positive thing for local football. Us players have waited a long time for this."


Sazali Abdul Aziz and David Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 31, 2017, with the headline 'We have waited a long time for longer contracts, say players'. Print Edition | Subscribe