It is arguably the only sport that can draw 55,000 people to the National Stadium, but the state of football has got MPs concerned.
In a speech delivered in Parliament yesterday, Parliamentary Secretary (Culture, Community and Youth) Baey Yam Keng urged the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to hold its election of office bearers soon as the sport lies in limbo, awaiting a new set of leaders to chart its course.
As the football fraternity awaits the announcement of the date of the election, which has to be called by May 20, Mr Baey pointed out: "FAS has been under the guidance of a provisional council since Nov 16, 2016, after the term of (the) last council expired. Until the new leadership team is elected, the direction of FAS remains uncertain.
"We urge the FAS to conduct the election soon."
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Contacted last night, Mr Lim Kia Tong, president of FAS' interim council, told The Straits Times that the elections are "on the horizon".
The lawyer said: "We have been working feverishly to get this historic elections on the way.
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"We are moving very close to calling (for the elections) as FAS is receiving some final guidance from (world governing body) Fifa."
Responding to Mr Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC), Mr Baey outlined what the FAS should do to take the game, which he said "generates a lot of public interest", forward. He said its new leaders would need to "develop a multi-year strategic plan, which must address areas such as youth and coach development, community outreach and participation, and football excellence".
Read also: SportSG, FAS council must work together: Lim
The subject of football drew a hard-hitting speech from Nominated MP Ganesh Rajaram, who called on the sport's fraternity to elect strong leaders to drag it out of its current rut. He told the House: "In October last year, we sank to our lowest-ever world ranking of 171. Currently, we are at 164 and things don't look like they are going to get better any time soon.
"The S-League is dying a slow and painful death.
"Where did it all go wrong?"
He blamed "a lack of leadership and a lack of passion" for "this sad state of affairs" and expressed a hope that "real leaders with real passion and no hidden agendas step forward, and get the game back to where it should be".
Mr Baey replied that the need for good governance applies to all national sports associations, not just football.
"Our NSAs need leaders who can unite their fraternities around a sound strategic plan for the development of their sport," he said.
He urged them to "build organisational capabilities" which would enable them to govern their sports effectively.
This includes investing in and developing professional coaches and officials which would help enthusiasts and athletes improve, and creating a sustainable ecosystem for their respective sports. Mr Baey added: "With strong leadership, good governance, effective management and sound technical capabilities, the sport as a whole can develop and grow to its full potential."
This article was first published on Mar 10, 2017.
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