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S.League

President's Message

FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE
28TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, 29 MARCH 2010
JALAN BESAR SWIMMING COMPLEX OFFICE BLOCK, 3RD CONFERENCE ROOM

Address by Mr Zainudin Nordin, 
President FAS and Mayor, Central Singapore District


Introduction 

1. A very good evening, Council Members, Club Representatives and Affiliates, Sponsors, Members of the Media, Friends of Singapore Football, Ladies & Gentlemen. 

2. Welcome to the 28th Annual General Meeting of the Football Association of Singapore. 

3. First let me thank all of you for contributing to the development and support for Singapore football. I appreciate your efforts and continued support. As you can see from the FAS Annual Report, we are making progress. Despite some setbacks, we had a good year and Singapore football is on the right track. Of course, there is still a lot of hard work ahead. 

4. A year has passed since I took over the helm as FAS President from A/P Ho Peng Kee and I am confident that with the continued support of all of you, our stakeholders and partners, Singapore football will continue to develop and progress to greater heights in the coming years. 

National Teams 

5. Our various National Teams participated in several international competitions held overseas as well as in Singapore. 

Senior “A” Team 

6. The Lions participated in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup Final Qualification matches. They were drawn with Asian giants I.R. Iran, as well as Jordan and Thailand. The matches were played on a home and away basis and the Lions were determined to qualify for the final round for the first time in their history and went into battle with confidence under the stewardship of Coach Raddy. 

7. There is now breadth and depth to the quality of our Lions and this was evident when the team was still able to compete with their opponents even when a number of key players were either injured or suspended during certain matches and were unavailable for selection. 

8. Unfortunately, despite putting in some determined performances they missed out on qualification for the final round of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, by a single point. 

9. While non-qualification for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup was a setback, the results also shows that Singapore are no longer the whipping boys in Asia but a team that can compete with the best on the continent. There is still room for improvement and more work to do, but we are getting there as the gap is definitely narrowing between the top Asian football nations and Singapore. 

10. FIFA’s official website, FIFA.Com also recognised the Lions in an article published on 3rd December 2009, noting that Singapore was the biggest mover and the most improved team in Asia for November and said that “the Lions progress in recent years is something that cannot be underestimated. The concerted push for achievement was underlined in the latest FIFA /Coca-Cola World Ranking as they soared eight places to 111 on the global ladder. By doing so the South-East Asian nation drew level with 1990 FIFATM World Cup finalist United Arab Emirates”. 

Allegations of Indiscipline by Lions in Jordan 

11. I would like to address members on allegations made by media reports that have inadvertently created an impression of gross indiscipline among the Lions, in particular during their recent game against Jordan in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifier on 3 March 2010. 

12. I am sure that all Singaporeans were naturally disappointed that the Lions failed to collect the point that was required to qualify for the 2010 AFC Asian Cup Finals. The fact remains that on 3 March 2010, the Lions fell short despite equalising early in the second half to level the score 1-1 and silencing the crowd. However, on the day, the Jordanians deserved the win as they took their chances better than the Lions. 

13. Playing before a capacity crowd of 20,000, who were totally behind their team, the Jordanians played one of their best games in this competition. It should also be noted that in the same stadium in November 2009, the Jordanians also beat Group winners I.R. Iran 1-0, with an equally determined performance. 

14. We should also acknowledge that Coach Raddy had to work around injuries to first team players, Khairul Amri, Shaiful Esah and John Wilkinson who were injured a few days before the team left for Jordan, as well as Agu Casmir who was recovering from a serious injury. Fahrudin Mustafic was suspended for the game. For the record Coach Raddy did not use this as an excuse in his report to FAS Council. 

15. Coach Raddy has given me his written report and also addressed FAS Council personally to give his analysis on the entire campaign. The fact remains that out of our three home matches the Lions only won one of them and incidentally it was against Jordan by the same scoreline of 2-1. This meant that they lost six points at home. This becomes all the more significant when you consider that they required only one more point to qualify for the finals. 

16. I must state that the reason why the Lions lost to Jordan on the night was not because two players were “Late boarding team bus” nor because some players were alleged to be “Smoking in dressing room at half-time” or as alleged that some players were “Refusing to take training seriously” has suggested in an article published in a local newspaper on 10 March 2010. 

Late Boarding Team Bus 

17. Two players were indeed seven minutes late boarding the team bus on match day – the only occasion throughout our stay in Jordan where any player was late for anything – be it team meetings or training. 

18. FAS has received and studied the National Coach’s and Team Manager’s reports and have referred both players to the FAS Disciplinary Committee for breaching the National Players’ Code of Conduct in particular for reporting seven minutes late to the team bus on 3 March 2010. 

Smoking in dressing room at half-time 

19. It is also factually inaccurate to state as a matter of fact, as reported in the media article published on 10 March 2010 that at half-time, with Singapore trailing 0-1 to Jordan in the Asian Cup qualifying decider, a couple of players were smoking in the dressing room. 

20. This is not true and has created an inaccurate and false impression of the Lions to be grossly indisciplined and that Coach Raddy was not able to instill discipline in the dressing room and had lost control of the team. 

21. In fact, Coach Raddy confirmed in person to the reporter who wrote the article on 10 March 2010 and through the FAS Media Information that was issued thereafter that neither he nor any FAS officials who were in the dressing room during the material time witnessed any player smoking in the dressing room. 

22. Coach Raddy said that “In all my time as a coach, I have never seen any player openly smoke in front of me, especially inside the dressing room. On that day, none of us saw any player smoke at any time in the dressing room.” 

FAS Stand on Smoking 

23. On the issue of smoking, Coach Raddy was clear on where he stood on the habit which mirrors that of FAS. 

24. Coach Raddy told the media that “We discourage our players from smoking. In fact, we have organised educational talks and advised players from a young age not to start smoking. “We try to educate from the Young Lions and the NFA on all aspects of being professional sportsmen, from various aspects such as nutrition to hydration. Players must realise that if they smoke, their playing age and time will be shortened. That is a good enough reason not to smoke.” 

25. The Lions who were in Jordan have informed us that none of them smoked anywhere in the dressing room. Our two security officers, who were with the team, have also confirmed that they were not aware of or saw any player stealing a puff anytime during the break or at any other time when they were in the dressing room. 

26. We have asked the media that published this that if they maintain that players were indeed smoking in the confines of the dressing room or toilet within the dressing room, we seek their immediate cooperation and assistance to provide the names of these players that they have alleged to have smoked in the confines of the dressing room so that these players will be immediately referred to the FAS Disciplinary Committee to answer charges of breaching the National Team Code of Conduct. 

27. Please let me assure members that the there isn’t a prevalent smoking culture among the Lions. FAS are aware that some of the players have picked up the bad habit of smoking and we will engage the Health Promotion Board to conduct talks and workshops for the players regularly to assist the players to stamp out this habit as part of our planned football sciences and medicine programme. 

"Refusing to take training seriously" 

28. Coach Raddy has also put on record that the comments attributed to him in the said media article published on 10 March 2010 regarding the players’ attitude to training in Singapore and Jordan in preparation for the match on 3 March 2010 were taken totally out of context and did not reflect the true position and fact that he had informed the media on more than one occasion (in Jordan) that he had no issues or complaints with the team’s attitude and commitment to training either in Singapore or in Jordan in preparation for the said match on 3 March 2010. 

29. In particular, Coach Raddy informed the two reporters present in Jordan that and I quote “I was disappointed with our performance and the result on the day itself but I cannot fault the players’ attitude and commitment in training. I had no issue with the discipline and attitude of the players in our time in Jordan preparing for the game. There were no complaints at all from the players about training or any of the team meetings.” He added that “The team conducted themselves well in difficult conditions with the weather and unprofessional treatment from the hosts and I was generally very happy. Nobody was late for any of the training sessions or team meetings.” 

30. The quote attributed to Raddy in the media article published on 10 March 2010, “Some players complained that the training sessions were too tough.” was made in reference to a particular player about three or four years ago and not of a complaint during the team’s preparation for the match against Jordan on 3 March 2010. 

Team Discipline 

31. Let me assure all members that team discipline was strictly observed throughout the entire period the Lions were in Jordan. 

32. FAS’ stand on team discipline is very clear and all national players have signed the FAS National Team Code of Conduct and are aware of their responsibilities and duties. In addition, they have been thoroughly briefed on their expected behaviour while on national duty. 

33. The fact remains that team discipline and morale were indeed high and that the entire team was in actual fact focused on the game against Jordan. 

34. Let me bring you better news. 

National U-23 

35. Our Young Lions (National U-23) participated in the 2009 Laos SEA Games. The team with an average age of 19.8 was the youngest team in the football competition. The majority of the players will be eligible to participate in the 2012 Olympic Games Asian Qualification matches and the next two SEA Games (2011 & 2013) campaigns. 

36. Our Young Lions carried Singapore’s flag high, battling it out and giving a good account of themselves in Laos. They played some good passing football as a team and rarely found themselves on the back foot throughout the competition. They gave local fans much to cheer about when they won the 2009 Laos SEA Games bronze medal adding to the bronze they won in the 2007 SEA Games. 

Youth Development 

37. FAS continued to invest significant resources towards our various youth development programmes. We have a very good relationship with the respective stakeholders involved in youth development and have worked in particular with the Co-Curricular Activities Branch (CCAB) and the Singapore Sports School (SSS). Our various programmes have continued to fuel the upward flow of talent from grassroots to schools to SSS, COEs to NFA to the Young Lions, the Prime League and S.League and finally to the National “A” team as part of a working eco-system which continues to unearth promising young talents. 

National Football Syllabus 

38. The development of the strongest, fittest, most skilful, tactically-smart and well-adjusted players on a national basis is our priority. In this regard, a significant milestone was achieved with the completion of a comprehensive National Football Syllabus designed by our Technical Director Slobodan Pavkovic and the FAS Technical Department, for Singapore based on the best practices of leading football nations in the world. 

39. This National Football Syllabus has been specifically tailored to suit Singapore football and in particular for players U-8 to U-18 in order to systematically develop and groom our youth. It also serves as a coaching guide for all coaches involved in the development of youth players in Singapore and the National Football Syllabus will be the main coaching manual for all elite youth football teams in Singapore. In fact, the National Football Syllabus was endorsed by both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur when we presented it to some of their technical staff and they commended it for its comprehensiveness. 

Junior Centres of Excellence 

40. Another significant milestone was achieved when FAS established the first Junior Centre of Excellence (JCOE) for boys U-8, U-10 and U-12 as part of the long term player development pathway. 

41. There was an overwhelming response during the trials and 800 boys were put through their paces. Eventually 97 players were identified by our technical team and were selected for the respective development squads. 

42. The respective JCOE development squads train once a week at the Yio Chu Kang Primary School and FAS intends to increase the number of JCOEs to reach out to more young talents and to groom them from a young age as part of the long term player development pathway. 

National Football Academy 

43. The National Under-14 team participated in the inaugural Asian Youth Games which Singapore had the honour to host in June – July 2009. Hosting this international event, with top Asian U-14 teams including Korea Republic, DPR Korea, P.R. China, Saudi Arabia and I.R. Iran participating, brought kudos to Singapore. 

44. Drawn with Asian giants I.R. Iran and P.R. China, our Cubs chalked up credible performances which augur well for the future as they prepare for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games that would be held in Singapore in August 2010. 

45. Two members of the team, Jeffrey Adam Lightfoot and Mohd Hanafi were included in Straits Times’ 2009 Asian Youth Games Best XI All-Stars team highlighting their future prospects in football as potential Lions. 

46. Another positive in 2009 was the knowledge that the NFA continues to produce young talents for the various National teams. 

47. In particular, 4 players from the NFA U-17 team were selected to represent the National U-21 team in the 3rd Vietnam Newspaper Cup. The National U-21 team are preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games, Asian Qualification competition that will commence in early 2011. 

48. The NFA U-17 contributed 1 player while the NFA U-18 team contributed 3 players to the National U-23 team that participated in the Laos SEA Games, where the team won a bronze medal. The 2010 Young Lions squad playing in the S.League in preparation for the 2010 Asian Games as well as the 2011 SEA Games comprises of 7 graduates from the 2009 NFA U-18 team. 

Coach Sivalingam 

49. We were all shocked to hear of the passing of our NFA U-14 Head Coach V. Sivalingam on 1 November 2009. He collapsed during a charity match at the Indian Association field for former footballer S Anthonysamy which was arranged by close friends of Anthonysamy including Sivalingam. He was well loved by all of his players and by the football fraternity and he will sorely be missed. 

Coach Education 

50. Quality coaching is an integral part of Football Development and that is why Coach Education is vital in continuing to ensure our players receive quality coaching. 

51. FAS Technical Director Slobodan Pavkovic has been conducting weekly Coaches Morning sessions designed to upgrade the coaching abilities, knowledge and techniques of all NFA, COE, and SSS youth coaches. FAS Coaching Instructors were also invited to attend these sessions and the FAS National Football Syllabus was the main coaching manual for all sessions. 

52. As part of our efforts to improve the technical standard of local football, FAS conducted Technical Seminars focusing on football fitness of all elite players and introducing new technologies that would assist all Head Coaches of elite teams to further improve the standard and competitiveness of their various teams. These Seminars were conducted by National Coach, Radojko Avramovic, Technical Director, Slobodan Pavkovic and National Fitness Coach, Aleksandar Bozenko. The participants were Head Coaches and Managers of all S.League Clubs including NFA and COE coaches. 

53. FAS also organised talks conducted by experts to familiarise all elite Head Coaches on the available football match analysis software in order to assist them to more effectively coach their various teams to achieve their respective performance targets. 

54. Representatives from ProZone (match analysis software used by EPL Clubs) and SportsCode (more affordable match analysis software used by FAS) gave a presentation that was attended by Head Coaches and Managers of all S.League Clubs including NFA, COE and Women’s coaches. 

55. FAS also conduct coaching courses annually and the number of qualified coaches has risen significantly, from 143 in 1999 to the current 483. There are currently 7 AFC Pro-Diploma Coaches, 25 AFC “A” Certificate Coaches, 138 AFC “B” Certificate Coaches and 313 AFC “C” Certificate Coaches. We also note that more former Lions and S.League players are taking up coaching courses and upgrading their coaching qualifications. 

Referees 

56. We will continue to nurture our local referees. Our FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees have maintained their consistent performances in all of their overseas appointments and accordingly FIFA and AFC continue to give recognition to our FIFA Referees/ Assistant Referees by regularly appointing them for International competitions. 

57. A milestone was achieved when Ms Abirami Naidu became the first female Singapore Referee to be registered as a FIFA Women’s Referee. Congratulations Abi. 

58. After a year of good performance in various FIFA and AFC competitions and matches, I would like to congratulate Assistant Referee Jeffrey Goh who has been selected by FIFA for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. I am confident that he will fly our Singapore flag prominently in South Africa. 

Women’s Football 

59. FAS expanded our women’s football programmes in 2009 to meet the growing demand for women’s football. These included competitions at adult and school levels, coaching clinics, promotions, publicity, training and educational courses. 

60. There was a good turnout in tournaments such as the Police Cup 5s, SPSS/FAS U-9 Football Carnival, FAS Women’s Football Challenge Cup, Women’s Premier League and Pesta Sukan Women’s 7s. 

61. A significant achievement in 2009 was the organisation of separate “C” Division (U-14) and “B” Division (U-17) girls football competitions in collaboration with CCAB. 

Grassroots & Community Outreach 

62. Football is not just a game, but also a means of community bonding, a social glue that uplifts the lives of less fortunate Singaporeans. 

63. FAS continued to work closely with key partners such as PA, SSC and CCAB to increase the active participation in the game as well as developing our all-inclusive grassroots and community outreach programme which caters to youngsters, youth and working adults including women. 

64. FAS also provided technical advice to organisations that promote football as part of our grassroots and community outreach programme in order to reach out to more Singaporeans and residents. 

65. Participants of the various grassroots and community outreach programmes were also invited to attend and support S.League and Lions international matches and to enjoy the experience of “LIVE” football matches with members of their families and friends and response to these invitations have been encouraging. 

Captains Advisory Committee 

66. The FAS Captains’ Advisory Panel was officially launched on 19 November 2009. The Panel consists of 12 former Captains of the Lions, from Quah Kim Lye to Aide Iskandar. Including six members of the Lions’ Century Club, they represent four decades of Singapore football from 1966 to 2007. 

67. The FAS Captains’ Advisory Panel was one of my first initiatives that I was working on with our FAS Council Member, Leong Kok Fann when I took over the FAS Presidency. With the FAS Strategic Plan in mind and to further the goals and mission for FAS, I decided that it was appropriate to form the CAP to tap on the experience, leadership qualities, knowledge and ideas of these legends of Singapore football that will complement the work of my Football Excellence and Grassroots & Community Outreach Committees. 

S.League 

68. The S.League celebrated its 14th Season in 2009 and continues to be a vital platform for local football talents to hone their skills and prepare for international football. The improved standard of play and fitness generated a greater level of excitement and there were a number of memorable matches and goals. The S.League in 2009 attracted over 395,000 fans to the stadiums and 2.2 million television viewers. 

69. The S.League’s third foreign team, Brunei DPMM FC created a buzz and captured the imagination of local fans as they strung together a series of impressive victories with their never-say-die attitude and performances on the pitch. 

70. There were several milestones achieved in 2009, mostly notably with the participation of Brunei DPMM FC, for the first time S.League matches were played overseas in Bandar Seri Begawan. S.League matches were also shown ‘live’ on Brunei’s Radio & Television Brunei with history made on 3rd April 2009, when an S.League match between Tampines Rovers and DPMM FC was broadcast ‘live’ in Brunei. 

71. The S.League recorded its highest match attendance in 13 seasons when more than 10,000 fans turned up at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Brunei to witness the S.League clash between Brunei DPMM FC and SAF FC. 

72. With five S.League matches to be played, world governing body FIFA suspended Brunei FA and as a result DPMM were not able to complete their five remaining games in the S.League. FAS did our best, even flying to Zurich to plead our case with FIFA to allow DPMM to complete their remaining fixtures in the S.League. However FIFA stood firm and DPMM’s matches in the S.League were declared null and void. 

73. Local clubs Gombak United and seasoned outfit Tampines Rovers set the pace in the S.League title race. Gombak United stormed to the top of the league table ahead of the mid-season break in June eventually finishing third on superior goal difference after completing the season level on points with Home United on 53 points. Tampines Rovers also put up strong performances in the S.League but they drew far too many of their matches and eventually finished runners-up with 56 points. 

74. Ultimately it was the resolute and sturdy performances of seven-time S.League Champions SAFFC, especially in the second half of the season, which resulted in the Warriors winning their fourth consecutive S.League Championship with 67 points. 

75. On the regional front, SAFFC also created history by being the first Singapore team to qualify for the revamped AFC Champions League, a major endorsement for the Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League after overcoming Thailand’s Provincial Electrical Authority and Indonesia’s PSMS Medan in the play-offs. The Warriors were drawn with East Asian giants, Shanghai Shenhua of P.R. China, Suwon Samsung Bluewings of Korea Republic and J.League champions Kashima Antlers and they performed admirably in Asia’s most prestigious Club competition finishing their group matches with a point. 

76. Home United flew Singapore’s flag in the AFC Cup and qualified from the group stages to the round of sixteen before being eliminated from the competition. In the Sultan of Selangor’s Cup played on 4th October 2009 at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the Singapore Selection team comfortably beat the visiting Selangor team 3-0 while the Singapore Veterans beat Selangor Veterans 4-3 on penalty kicks. 

77. Unfortunately our Singapore legend Dollah Kassim was taken ill during the veterans match. Dollah had started the match before being substituted after about 10 minutes. He was resting on the team bench when he was taken ill. 

78. Immediate medical attention was rendered by the FAS Doctor, who was stationed near the team bench and Dollah was immediately rushed by the ambulance to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Dollah underwent emergency surgery to clear the blocked arteries that had caused the heart attack at TTSH on arrival. 

79. We’re all saddened that this has happened. Dollah is a great friend of Singapore football, and he is someone I’ve got to know very closely over the years. Dollah’s one of the nicest guys around and he is someone who always has time and kind words for anyone he meets. We’re all praying hard for his full recovery. 

80. To capitalise on the European off-season in June and create greater awareness among local football fans, FAS repackaged the League Cup by introducing a new tournament format with all matches played on neutral grounds. FAS collaborated with StarHub to broadcast 13 out of the 20 Cup matches “LIVE” on StarHub’s Football Channel – a milestone for the S.League and Singapore football. This year witnessed the best showing ever by a foreign team, when Brunei DPMM FC won the League Cup beating SAFFC in a penalty shootout in front of more than 5,000 fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium in June. 

81. The RHB Singapore Cup continued to attract top regional teams to participate in Singapore’s premier cup competition together with S.League Clubs. In 2009, for only the second time, an invited foreign team, Bangkok Glass from Thailand, qualified for the final against Geylang United on 8 November 2009 at the Jalan Besar Stadium. The Eagles ensured that the RHB Singapore Cup remained on local shores when their beat Bangkok Glass 1-0. 

82. The global Influenza (H1N1) outbreak affected Singapore and many countries in the region in 2009. However, the S.League remained fairly unaffected and none of the games had to be postponed as a result of swift preventive measures that were activated at the onset. 

83. Off the pitch, S.League has put in much effort to further improve club operations and management capabilities. These included the strengthening of management structure, staff upgrading, coach education, club finances, insurance and taxation. Clubs continued to operate clubhouses that provide a steady stream of income and they continue to connect at the grassroots level with residents and schools in their community, through football clinics and outreach programmes. 

84. The new Foreign Players Subsidy to encourage clubs to sign new foreign players to inject freshness and excitement to the S.League was implemented in 2009. In terms of quality and standard of the foreign players, this new initiative has been successful with the S.League Clubs signing 15 new foreign players who played in their maiden S.League season in 2009 while another 5 new foreign players played in the Prime League. 

85. In addition to the S.League Club’s own scouting network, FAS continued the Foreign Players Scouting programme in 2009 when 39 foreign players from countries such as Romania, Canada, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Britain, Australia and Macedonia attended trials in November 2009 in Singapore in preparation for the 2010 S.League season. The trials concluded successfully with 4 new foreign players signing on with our Clubs for the 2010 S.League season. 

Corporate Partners 

86. The FAS welcomed into our football family Great Eastern Life Assurance Co. Ltd as Co-Title Sponsor of the S.League in 2009.

87. FAS also continued to make good progress on the marketing front as we tap on both S.League’s commercial potential and the strong pull of the National Team’s brands. Our S.League footballers are also on the way to becoming football icons, spearheading brands such as H-TWO-O and Nike in their respective advertising and promotion programmes. 

Looking Ahead 

Launch of the FAS Strategic Plan 2010 to 2015 

88. When I took over as FAS President last year, I informed you that I will work on a blueprint to bring Singapore football to the next level. The key objective is to continue to raise the overall standards of Singapore football. 

89. The FAS Strategic Plan 2010 to 2015 was developed by FAS after consulting widely with our stakeholders and partners who gave us their inputs on the gaps and their recommendations on how to take Singapore football to the next level. Our stakeholders have been very supportive during this process and I thank all of them for their contribution to strengthen the Plan. 

90. The Plan was then presented to the Singapore Sports Council on 10 February 2010. SSC were impressed with the amount of detail and work that went into developing the plan. They are supportive of our targets and will be working with FAS in a number of areas in the implementation of the plan. 

91. We will launch this six-year Plan on Wednesday 7 April 2010 and will present more details of the Plan during the launch. We will also send to our stakeholders the details of the Plan. Needless to say, the implementation of the Plan is very important and will require the concerted effort and support from all our stakeholders, to achieve the targets we have set. 

92. I am confident that with the support of our stakeholders and a capable management team, we can bring Singapore football to the next level. 

2010 Youth Olympic Games 

93. All of us are looking forward to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games that will take place in Singapore from 14 to 26 August 2010. I encourage all of you to show your support for the YOG and take an active part in promoting the YOG. 

94. The football competition will be for boys and girls who were born in 1995, hence it will be an Under-15 competition. There will be six teams in each category. Singapore as host country, was given the opportunity to choose to participate in the boys or girls competition and after careful deliberation we decided to participate in the boys competition. 

95. Singapore will be represented by our NFA Under-15 team. The majority of the boys have already tasted international competition when they participated in the 2009 Asian Youth Games. They will compete against Montenegro, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Vanuatu and Bolivia – who by no means should be construed as being weak or easy teams and we expect a good level of competition. The teams will be drawn into two groups of three teams with the top two teams qualifying for the semi-finals. The draw will be conducted in May 2010. Our target is for the YOG team to qualify for the semi-finals. 

96. Our former Lion, Kadir Yahaya will lead the boys as Head Coach. Kadir has loads of experience and his rapport with our players is excellent. He also has an AFC Pro Diploma coaching certificate and has a good track record with the youth teams that he has been in charge over the years. He will work closely with the Technical Director, who himself is an extremely experienced coach to help the YOG team achieve credible results at the games in August. 

97. FAS have a comprehensive training and preparation programme for the team to prepare for the YOG. The team has been on overseas training tours and will be competing in this year’s COE Under-16 tournament, where they will play against boys who are bigger and older than them. The team will also travel to Europe to play matches against European teams as part of their final preparation prior to the YOG. We are also planning to hold the Lion City Cup this year to give our boys more competitive matches. 

98. I seek the full support of all Singaporeans including all of our stakeholders to give our boys all the encouragement and personal support by attending the matches which will be played at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Let’s make the home ground advantage count and fill the Jalan Besar Stadium and roar as one for our boys. 

2010 Asian Games 

99. The 2010 Asian Games will be held in Guangzhou, P.R. China in November 2010 and FAS are hopeful that SNOC will select our National U-23 team to participate in Asia’s most important U-23 football competition. 

100. We will not take selection for granted but will do our part to convince SNOC. If selected, the team that will do battle for us will comprise a majority of the SEA Games squad that won the bronze medal in the 2009 Laos SEA Games. Most of the players will also be eligible for the 2011 & 2013 SEA Games. 

101. The Asian Games team will be strengthened by the inclusion of three senior players over the age of 23 as allowed by competition regulations. Raddy will no doubt look to the Asian Games squad as the backbone of the next generation of Lions as part of our FAS Strategic Plan 2010 to 2015. Hence, participation in the 2010 Asian Games is very much key to nurturing these players in the late teens and early twenties for major football competitions ahead. 

Asean Football Federation Championships 

102. Our Lions will be gearing up for the Asean Football Federation Championships that will take place at the end of the year. The Lions are very determined to claim back the title of Kings of South-East Asia from Vietnam and win this Championship for the fourth time in its history. 

103. The draw for the Championships will be held later this year on a date to be determined. 

104. For members’ information, the AFF Championships have been won by Singapore three times, Thailand three times and Vietnam last year. Therefore other regional rivals such as Malaysia and Indonesia will no doubt be equally determined to win this Championship. 

2010 S.League 

105. The S.League is now into its 15th season and we have certainly come a long way battling various obstacles over the past decade including the Asian Economic Crisis, SARS, the recent global financial crisis and H1N1 outbreak, just to name a few. 

106. We have together, with the support of our stakeholders shown that a professional football league can indeed succeed in Singapore. 

107. The S.League is now Singapore’s premier professional sports event and contributes to the Singapore sports industry by providing jobs for some 1,000 players, coaches, administrators, marketing and media personnel, private football academies and schools that together generate more than $220 million worth of value annually. Attendances and viewership figures are up this year. There are also more unique visitors each month to our official website. This season, we’ve seen more media coverage, more ‘live’ matches on television each week and a new Highlights Show every fortnight. 

This season, the S.League also received payment from StarHub for the right to broadcast S.League matches on their channels. This was reported in The Straits Times, highlighting that the S.League Brand Value is on the rise. 

108. Our commercial partners have seen value in associating with the S.League. Last season, we welcomed into our football family, Great Eastern Life Assurance Co. Ltd as Co-Title Sponsor of the S.League. 

109. Last Friday, The Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League received a boost early into the season as YEO’S renewed their co-title sponsorship for another three years, from 2010 to 2012. 

110. This is YEO’s seventh year of sponsorship with the S.League. I am happy to note that our commercial partners, including Club sponsors are convinced of the S.League’s value and profile and therefore they continue to support and have committed their sponsorship dollars to football. We hope that more commercial partners do the same. 

111. For this, I will have to thank the media wholeheartedly for their continued and enhanced coverage for local football. With greater interest and support from our football fans and corporate partners, I am cautiously optimistic that this will be a good season for the S.League. 

112. FAS are always looking at ways to spice up and improve the S.League to entertain our fans. It is a challenging task but one that we will take on gamely to improve the stature, standard of football and entertainment level our league. 

113. This year’s Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League has made a promising start with some exciting games that have been played and some spectacular goals scored. The introduction of Etoile FC has by all accounts added more glamour and spice to the 2010 S.League. The other new team, Beijing Guoan Talent has also contributed to the strong start with good performances on the pitch. 

114. I must commend our Clubs for recruiting higher quality foreign players to enhance the quality on the pitch. But Clubs must press on with the key task of delivering quality, exciting football on the field to build up a core group of fans who can identify with the Clubs. 

115. We have also introduced new and exciting half time games especially during 'Live' matches to entice and attract more fans to the stadium. This season, coverage of games has improved with a 30-min highlights show and also two 'live' games instead of the usual one so that those fans who are unable to attend the matches can watch the action on television. 

NFL 

116. The National Football League (NFL) is an important component of local football. We have received a number of constructive feedback and suggestions from our NFL Clubs on how the NFL can be enhanced and the standard of competition improved. 

117. FAS will revamp the NFL format in 2011. It is envisaged that the NFL will be the platform for our local players to hone their skills by being given the opportunity to play regular quality competitive matches as part of the Player's pathway and for local coaches to be able to gain valuable coaching experience as part of the Coaches' pathway. 

118. FAS also intend to expand the capacities and capabilities of the NFL clubs, as it helps them prepare for the proposed promotion / relegation to the S.League, which is in line with one of the goals in our FAS Strategic Plan. 

119. In this regard, FAS will be introducing the NFL Club Licensing Criteria, which will determine participation in the 2011 NFL season and beyond. This is in line with our strategic objectives contained in the FAS Strategic Plan. We will assist our NFL Clubs to enhance their administration and management capacities and will organise a FIFA Administration & Management course for the NFL Clubs in November 2010 in Singapore. 

120. Details of the NFL Club Licensing criteria will be released in the second half of 2010 after the consultation process with the current NFL clubs is completed. 

Volunteers 

121. I would also like to record my personal and the FAS’ appreciation to our various volunteers whose contribution to Singapore football is much appreciated. 

122. Many of our volunteers work behind the scenes in key areas such as managing our fan clubs, helping to successfully organise international and S.League matches, assisting in the various standing committees of FAS and affiliates etc. 

123. To all of our passionate volunteers, please continue to work together for the cause of local football. 

Corporate Support 

124. The road to football excellence and glory will not be an easy one. 

125. However, it is a testament to the dedication of our corporate partners that our past plans have borne some fruits. To this special group of corporate citizens and individuals, I would like to pay a special tribute for their invaluable contribution in cash and kind towards the promotion of Singapore football. 

126. Special mention should be given to our major sponsors and partners such as: 

(a) Singapore Totalisator Board 
(b) Singapore Pools (Private) Limited 
(c) Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore) Pte Ltd (Tiger Beer) 
(d) Nike Singapore Pte Ltd 
(e) Great Eastern Life Assurance Co Ltd 
(f) YHS (Singapore) Pte Ltd (H-TWO-O) 
(g) RHB Bank Berhad 
(h) Field Catering & Supplies Pte Ltd (POLAR Natural Mineral Water) 
(i) Sunrise & Co (Pte) Ltd (MIKASA) 
(j) Avaya Singapore Pte Ltd 
(k) Jebsen & Jessen Communications (S) Pte Ltd 
(l) Certis CISCO Security Pte Ltd 
(m) Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports 
(n) Singapore Sports Council 
(o) Singapore National Olympic Committee 

127. Without their support, it would be impossible for the various football excellence, development and S.League programmes to succeed. 

Media Support 

128. I also wish to thank members of the media for their continued support. May I urge you to continue with the strong support and coverage that you have provided for local football. 

Conclusion 

129. In conclusion, I urge all football-loving Singaporeans and expatriates residing in Singapore to continue to support local football. With your support, I am confident that at next year’s AGM, I will stand here in front of you once again to share with you our progress and achievements. Thank you.