Tue, Mar 24, 2009
The New Paper

FINALLY, a good start for sports facilities in this century.

In the first decade of the S-League after it was created in 1996, the public and the media were exposed to sub-par pitches (which The New Paper had been regularly highlighting since 2001), and low-quality floodlighting which resulted in poor grainy pictures in the newspapers.

Never mind how it looked on television.

The entire product - when compared to the bright and brilliant look of overseas football products like the English Premier League - paled in comparison.

Even with local playing standards and simple neighbourhood stadiums in mind, the S-League 'product' just wasn't enticing enough to lure more fans to watch the games.

But the S-League's 'Friday Night Football' games, introduced three years ago, started to change mindsets.

Live telecasts were concentrated there, with teams coming to play there.

To convince the TV-watching public, the S-League needed to jazz up what was seen in live telecasts of the games.

Once people like what they see on television, they might be tempted to come to the stadium, starting with Jalan Besar Stadium.

After three months of renovation - since December - the new $1 million artificial Jalan Besar pitch, together with floodlights finally good enough for live telecasts, lured someone like Jose Lim last Friday.

The 34-year-old private tutor said: 'This is my first-ever S-League game. I normally watch the national team, and the English Premier League. But I've been watching the S-League Friday Night matches on television for some time.

'The lighting and the presentation on TV have always looked quite attractive.

'But today, I thought, why not head down to Jalan Besar to see what it's like. And the lighting is bright, there's some atmosphere. It looks quite good.'

The new Jalan Besar pitch replaces the old artificial turf laid three years ago.

It was under the Fifa Goal Project, with part of the money coming from the world football body's Goal Bureau.

The Fifa Goal Project was set up in 1999 to help countries develop infrastructure and training programmes.

The cost of the new pitch has been covered entirely by Fifa, as part of the second Goal Project.

The Luzhniki Stadium's pitch - where Russia beat England to qualify for Euro08 - is rated Fifa 2 Star Recommended, the same grade as the one at Jalan Besar.

The New Paper took part in a kickabout last Friday, and asked national Under-16 coach R. Suriamurthi - who also played in the kickabout - for his feedback.


An ex-national, the master dribbler and passer said: 'The key complaint of the previous pitch was that there wasn't enough cushioning.

'Now, it's close to grass. The cushioning is much better.

'The consistency of the artificial pitch also means the passing of the ball will be close to perfect.'

The Singapore Sports Council upgraded the stadium's floodlights to 1,400 lux (a standard unit of measurement for the level of illumination).

Previously, it was only 700 lux, while the National Stadium floodlights are about 650 lux.

Last year, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) warned Singapore that the lighting in its football stadiums was not of 'broadcast quality', and that a minimum lux of 1,200 was needed.

Other neighbourhood stadiums like the Bishan and Choa Chu Kang Stadiums respectively, have lux levels of 500 each, but will be upgraded with next year's Youth Olympic Games coming round.

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