Your move, S. League

Your move, S. League

BETTER PITCHES

The patchy turfs at Bishan Stadium and Choa Chu Kang Stadium are clearly not up to scratch.

Even Hougang Stadium, widely recognised as having one of the best pitches in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, was criticised by Hong Kong during a recent international friendly.

If the pitches are uneven, even top footballers who play a quick passing game will be affected.

Teams will then adopt a hoof-and-hope approach and the quality of football drops.

Next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, where different sports will be played at stadiums across the island, presents the perfect opportunity to improve the situation.

After the recent National Stadium brouhaha, Singapore will be keen to get this right, and the S.League should work with Sport Singapore to get the pitches in order.

LESS IS MORE

It's killing three birds with one stone. Cut the number of foreign players, from five to three for example, and cost will come down, funds will be freed up for a genuine star player, and more local players can feature in the starting 11.

From 2009 to 2011, the Football Association of Malaysia banned the hiring of foreign footballers, which helped the rise of young local talents like the Abdul Razak twins, Safiq Rahim and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha.

During that period, Malaysia won two SEA Games gold medals (2009 and 2011) and the Suzuki Cup in 2010.

The re-introduction of imports from 2012, on the other hand, coincided with a slump in the national team's fortunes.

The S.League can go even further and impose a one-foreign-striker rule on local clubs to address the dearth of good local forwards coming through.

ALBIREX EXCHANGE

The Japanese outfit has been part of the S.League since 2004, and have been lauded for their professionalism.

Perhaps our young footballers can learn more by playing alongside them, instead of just against them.

Why not attach a few Singaporeans to the team?

The guest players can learn first-hand about Japanese discipline and playing style.

On the other hand, the White Swans can also get to know about local culture.

FREE ADMISSION

Brunei DPMM tried this initiative for their home games during the exciting final stretch and attracted close to 10,000 fans per match. For most clubs, ticket prices are currently set at $5 for adults and $1 for concession pass holders.

While attendances can be more than 1,000 at an average match, many in the crowd hold complimentary tickets.

As the income from ticket sales seems negligible, why not remove all barriers of entry?

Freebies like ice cream can continue to be given out in goodwill in the hope of drawing even more bums on seats.

DECIDE AWARDS LATER

Typically, the awards panel meet a few games before the end of the season to decide the individual honours.

But that would rule out any potential Goal of the Year candidates in the final few matches, or fail to take into the account any exploits by coaches or players in the latter stages.

There is usually more than a week between the end of the league season and the awards night, enough time for the panel to meet and for the trophies to be engraved.

FEWER TWEAKS

The Fifa dates for international matches are usually out early.

The national teams department and the S.League should meet and de-conflict to avoid disruption to fixtures.

PRIME LEAGUE

While the five-over-30 age-restriction is implemented with the best of intentions, that cannot be the only way to increase involvement of younger players.

The Prime League needs a lift as much as the S.League does.

Young footballers who are not part of the National Football Academy/Young Lions set-up but show enough potential to suggest they could be late bloomers should be encouraged to stay in football. The S.League should consider increasing their monthly allowance from the average of $300, and get local clubs to include at least two young players aged 18 to 21 in their senior squad.

SUPPORT OUR PLAYERS

The restriction on the number of players above 30 years old, pullout of Tanjong Pagar, and merger of Hougang United and Woodlands Wellington mean that a significant number of footballers and staff may lose their jobs.

The S.League should provide assistance in terms of career counselling to help those affected cope with life after football.

davidlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 09, 2014.
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