Death knell for S-League?

Singapore Under-23 players celebrate the goal scored by Shafiq Ghani in the international friendly match against the Indonesia Under-21 held at the Hougang Stadium on 2 April 2014.

The S-League chief appears to be barking up the wrong tree by imposing an age restriction on local players over the age of 30 ("Changes have to be made: S-League CEO"; last Thursday).

The aim is supposedly to "inject more youth and talent into the league".

The youthful Under-23 Courts Young Lions have been languishing at the bottom of the S-League for years. So the assumption that youth will bring "talent" to the league is flawed.

While there is a platform for younger players to perform and, perhaps, be spotted for the national team or other S-League clubs, has the outcome been successful so far?

Aleksandar Duric was still playing good football for the national team in his 40s, disproving the idea that one is over the hill once one is over 30.

Age should not be a barrier in football. If an older footballer is still playing well and adding value to his club, why should he face the axe?

Leave it to the clubs to exercise their discretion to retain or discard older players. After all, they reap what they sow. And which club would not want to top the table if fielding a team of older players clinches it for them?

Imposing an age restriction will turn off aspiring players who wish to play professional football, given the risk of joining the ranks of the unemployed once they turn 30. It could end up being the death knell for the S-League and national football development programmes at the youth level.

The adage that a country's national team is only as good as its national league could then hold true if there is a dearth of youths taking up the route of professional football in Singapore.

George Pasqual

The writer is a former president of Tampines Rovers, and a former Football Association of Singapore council member.

This article was first published on Nov 20, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.