It may be just a matter of time before there is a good mix of Singaporeans in the national football team, said Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.
He was responding to a question on last week's Sunday Times interview with national under-23 coach Aide Iskandar, in which the former national skipper noted the dearth of Chinese and Indian professional footballers.
On Sunday, Mr Wong said: "Over time... if we continue the good development programme at an early age, reaching out to as many students as possible and there's a good pipeline of young people coming up in football, I'm sure that you will have more and more Singaporeans representing the different communities in our national team."
Noting, for instance, that there is a "good mix" of students of all races at the Singapore Sports School, he said such programmes encourage students to compete at the national level.
Mr Wong also urged those interested in sports and football to play competitively.
On the Lions needing greater drawing power to fill the new 55,000-seat National Stadium, compared with the current 7,500-seat Jalan Besar Stadium, Mr Wong said that he has encouraged the Football Association of Singapore to think of ways for players to further engage the community.
"The players themselves need to go out and engage the community and build that fan following," he said.
But he also hopes Singaporeans will come forward to cheer for the national team at the new stadium, just as they did at the old stadium during the heyday of the Malaysia Cup.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.