Yoshida hails front-line workers as 'Lions'

National football coach Tatsuma Yoshida said Singapore will overcome the coronavirus crisis if it stays united like his Lions, whose World Cup qualifier against Palestine yesterday was cancelled because of the pandemic. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/FAS
National football coach Tatsuma Yoshida said Singapore will overcome the coronavirus crisis if it stays united like his Lions, whose World Cup qualifier against Palestine yesterday was cancelled because of the pandemic.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/FAS

Teamwork has been a hallmark of the Lions under his watch, and now national football coach Tatsuma Yoshida is urging Singaporeans to adopt the same mentality in the fight against the coronavirus.

With most of the world's sporting action grinding to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Japanese penned an open letter to Singapore fans and also recorded a video message on the Football Association of Singapore's Facebook page.

In the video released yesterday, the day the Lions were scheduled to visit Palestine for a World Cup qualifier, the 45-year-old said: "Since I arrived in Singapore last year, I have felt very welcomed by all of you. I am very proud when I hear all of you supporting us at the stadium.

"But now, I ask you to show your support for each other, especially our healthcare workers and all others on the front line.

"They are our Lions.

"They are our heroes."

He also believed that "we can overcome this challenge if we stay united".

"We are on the same team," he added, urging the fans to "follow the necessary measures and precautions, so we can be safe for our families and each other".

In his open letter, Yoshida backed world governing body Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation's decision to postpone the World Cup qualifiers.

He added: "The number one priority is the health and daily lives of our families, our loved ones and the people around us. The situation is very serious but I feel that in Singapore, the Government has handled it in a way that makes all of us feel that we will be okay."

He thanked Singaporeans for the support they have shown him and urged them to practise patience, show kindness to one another, and "rise to the bigger challenge that is affecting us and the world".

DO YOUR PART

The number one priority is the health and daily lives of our families, our loved ones and the people around us.

TATSUMA YOSHIDA, national coach, in an open letter to Singapore fans.

He is also looking forward to the day when athletes can train and play, and his team can don national colours again.

He said: "I look forward to the day when we will go onto the pitch again and represent all of you as the Lions. That will not only mean that football is back, but that the situation in the world is stable and safe again."

David Lee

• Read Tatsuma Yoshida's letter: bit.ly/tatsumaletter

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Yoshida hails front-line workers as 'Lions''. Print Edition | Subscribe