32nd ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE
FRIDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2014, 6:00PM
LEVEL 3 VIP LOUNGE, JALAN BESAR STADIUM
ADDRESS BY MR ZAINUDIN NORDIN,
PRESIDENT, FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE
1. A very good evening, Council Members, Club Representatives, Affiliates, Sponsors, Friends of Singapore football, Ladies & Gentlemen.
2. Welcome to the 32nd Annual General Meeting of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
3. First, I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to our stakeholders, including the fans, clubs, sponsors, government agencies, media, volunteers and everyone in this room for the commitment and hard work towards the development of Singapore football in recent years. The growth and progress of Singapore football would not have been possible without your efforts and continued support, and we are thankful to each and every one of you.
4. In addition to the FAS Annual Report which contains the details of our various activities during the last Financial Year, the video which was broadcast a while ago showcased key highlights in each of our key pillars including the National Under-23’s bronze-winning SEA Games campaign, the ongoing progress of our youth developmental teams, and other key aspects of local football, like football management, IT, football science and medicine, facilities, sponsorships and partnerships, referees, S.League and the National Football League.
Key highlights of FY 2013 (1 April 2013 – 31 March 2014)
5. In general, it has been a positive year for Singapore football, both on and off the pitch.
6. FAS welcomed to our national teams setup two highly-respected coaches, Bernd Stange and Fandi Ahmad, during the past one year. One of the Key Performance Indicators of both coaches is youth development, and we are pleased to note that about 20 young players have made their international debuts during the past 15 months. We are also heartened and encouraged by the development of several young players in LionsXII, including Zulfahmi Arifin, Gabriel Quak, Shahfiq Ghani, Madhu Mohana and Faris Ramli, who not only recorded more playing time this season but have also progressed to becoming key players of the national team which will be participating in major tournaments such as the Suzuki Cup. Going forward, FAS will continue to support and work closely with our technical and backroom staff, including those from the National Team, LionsXII and Young Lions, to fulfil our footballing objectives.
7. Youth development is a key pillar of the FAS Strategic Plan and we are pleased to report that our players continue to develop well under the various youth programmes which have been endorsed and assessed by leading football officials, including the technical director of the Austrian Football Association, Mr Willi Ruttensteiner, and former England Under-21 coach Brian Eastick in recent months.
8. Following our decision to expand the National Football Academy (NFA) setup through the introduction of the Under-13 and Under-14 teams in early 2013, we launched a new Elite Under-12 Junior Centre of Excellence (JCOE) earlier this year. The establishment of this team will enable us to develop a core group of players who are likely to be shortlisted and selected for the NFA Under-13 team the following year.
9. As part of our ongoing efforts to expand the interest and participation rate in women’s football as well as to develop the footballing skills of girls from a young age, we established a Girls’ JCOE for Under-11 girls in early 2014. In addition, we have also invited officials from FIFA and AFC to Singapore to tap on their expertise on the implementation of a long-term plan aimed at enhancing the development of women’s football in Singapore. We will continue to work hard and raise both the level of interest and standards in girls’ and women’s football as we strive to make a return to the women’s football competition at the SEA Games.
10. Grassroots football, as the base of the football pyramid, plays an important role in shaping and defining the success of the game at all levels. During the past year, FAS continued to work towards its aim of bringing together as many people as possible through our grassroots football programmes and community outreach activities. One of our key focus areas in 2013 was to reach out to schools which do not offer football as a CCA (Co-Curricular Activity) and also to provide opportunities for students who do not represent their schools in zonal and national competitions. Through the organisation of various grassroots programmes including the National Kids Camp and football fiestas, FAS hopes to introduce the game to more participants and provide as many boys and girls as possible the opportunity to learn to play and enjoy football. FAS Vice-President Bernard Tan is leading the Grassroots Standing Committee which will be tasked to further expand our grassroots programmes, including the possible introduction of futsal programmes at the primary school level so as to attract participants to play the sport from a young age.
11. Like any forward-looking organisation, we are always looking to further enhance our systems and bring our programmes to the next level. In 2013, FAS studied various possibilities relating to the enhancement of our Club Centre of Excellence (COE) structure – with the main objective of further expanding the pool of talented young players in Singapore as well as to enhance support for the COE teams and players. Following a detailed study and in consultation with the clubs, we introduced, in February this year, the revamped COE programme, under which the number of age-group teams were increased from three to six; namely the Under-13, U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18 age-group teams. With enhanced support both on- and off-the-pitch, the new COE format will further strengthen the technical, tactical, mental and physical developmental aspects of our young players. We are pleased to note that the launch of the new COE structure has been well-received by parents and the football fraternity, both in Singapore and overseas, including FC Metz’s Denis Schaeffer, David Borja of FIFA, and Austria’s Technical Director Willi Ruttensteiner. We also appreciate the support of our club chairmen towards the new structure. For instance, Mr Anselm Lopez, Chairman of Home United, said [and I quote]: “The Centre of Excellence system is an excellent initiative of the FAS which provides the COE with the necessary resources to focus primarily on player development. The youth players will not only train with experienced and certified coaches and compete with the best of their peers on the field, but they will also have access to sports science and medical support to excel.” [unquote]
12. At the senior club level, several new initiatives were introduced in 2013 to enhance the competitiveness of the Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League, including the implementation of a new league format which comprised two-and-a-half rounds, and a new fitness test. Several new marketing initiatives were also implemented – resulting in an increase in the average attendances of more than 40 per cent.
13. Following a 10-month long season, Tampines Rovers FC clinched the S.League Championship for the third consecutive time since 2011, and were subsequently granted a play-off spot for a place in the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League. This was the result of FAS’ relentless efforts in engaging AFC and other Member Associations on the criteria weightage for participation in the region’s most elite and prestigious club competition. On behalf of the FAS, I extend my congratulations to Tampines Rovers on their title-winning campaign last year. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the club chairmen, their colleagues, volunteers and fans for their hard work and commitment towards raising the standards of our professional league. The S.League turns 20 next year, and we will announce, at an opportune time, several key initiatives aimed at raising the appeal and standards of our professional league.
14. Apart from the professional S.League, we also embarked on a review of the National Football League (NFL) and considered the various input and feedback aimed at raising the profiles and quality of the competition and our amateur clubs. To help bridge the gap and create a link between the NFL and the S.League, one NFL club, which won the qualifying matches, was given the opportunity to participate in the 2013 StarHub League Cup competition – the first time a club from the NFL took on professional teams in the tournament’s history. Going forward, we will continue to work with our partners and volunteers to further develop and promote the NFL.
15. The role of the medical sector in modern football has become more crucial and significant today and FAS always strives to keep abreast of game-changing developments in the industry. As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance the physical and psychological well-being of our players, we embarked on several key initiatives in 2013. These include the physical testing of all players within the national set-up from NFA U-13 to the National “A” Team. The findings from these tests would provide a more comprehensive picture of the physical state of the players. Sports nutrition and psychology workshops were also conducted consistently for all NFA age-group teams. In addition to enhancing the well-being of our players, one of our key priorities is to expand the knowledge of our officials. The FAS and the Medical Committee, led by Dr Dinesh Nair, launched the region’s first FIFA 11+ “Train the Trainers” program for sports science and medicine professionals, as well as other key initiatives such as the PAR-Q+ Health Screening for Referees and Injury Surveillance Program for S.League clubs.
16. The use of technology has made an impact on many sports in the modern day, including football. In order to raise our footballing standards, it is crucial that we leverage information services and technological tools, including both hardware and software, to enhance our operations both on and off-the-pitch. In 2013, FAS upgraded its infrastructure and database and we were the first Member Association to be selected by FIFA for the FIFA Connect Project, an IT programme which adopts the latest technology to enhance the stakeholders’ registration process. Going forward, we will continue to learn from FIFA and other leading Member Associations the best and most updated ways of using IT to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations at the various departments.
17. As is the case with other Football Associations around the world, the availability and access to good facilities will play an important role in the development of the game in Singapore. Hence, we are thankful to both FIFA and Sport Singapore for their assistance and support in addressing our needs for good facilities. In 2013, FIFA approved the fourth Goal Project for Singapore, under which a new set of synthetic turf incorporating the latest technology was installed at Jalan Besar Stadium. The previous set of turf was transported to and installed at Serangoon Stadium, which provides us an additional playing field for both matches and the training requirements of our age-group teams. In late 2013, Sport Singapore commenced renovation works at Geylang Field which has been utilised by our National ‘A’ and Under-23 teams for training purposes. The works undertaken by Sport Singapore include refurbishing the changing rooms and toilets, and the returfing of new grass which will allow our teams to play the international style of passing football.
18. Off the field, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the French Football Federation (FFF) in October 2013. The partnership includes a platform for FAS to learn from, and exchange expertise and information with, the former FIFA World Cup and UEFA European champions in key areas including youth development, as well as coaches’ and referees’ education. As part of the agreement, our Singapore Team which is eligible for the Asian Games travelled to Reunion Island in early June to take on France’s Under-21 side which boasted the likes of forward Paul-Georges Ntep, who plays for Stade Rennais in Ligue 1, Marseille attacker Florian Thauvin, and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Kingsley Coman who recently joined Serie A champions Juventus.
19. In addition to the French Under-21 match, our young talents like Faris Ramli and Izwan Mahbud also played against the-then Copa del Rey champions Atletico Madrid and Serie A champions Juventus in the past 15 months. These matches enabled our players to test themselves against seasoned professionals including Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois, Diego Godin, Gianluigi Buffon, Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo – all of whom represented their respective countries at the recent FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
20. As spelt out in the FAS Strategic Plan, the exposure to quality opponents on a regular basis is vital to the development of our players and we will continue to explore opportunities for our players to compete against strong opponents.
21. Sponsorship is one of the key ingredients for footballing success and we are grateful to our partners and sponsors for their staunch support over the years. Both co-title sponsors of the S.League, Great Eastern and YEO’s, extended their sponsorship in FY 2013, while another long-time sponsor, retailing giant Courts, renewed its sponsorship of the Young Lions team prior to the start of the 2013 season. We are also thankful to RHB Bank Singapore and StarHub for their renewal of the Singapore Cup and League Cup respectively.
22. During the past year, FAS also secured and welcomed new sponsors including AirAsia, Epson, Stamford Tyres, Halal Food International and PGK Media. We are encouraged and yet humbled by Mr Tony Fernandes’s comments at a press conference last year. The Group CEO of AirAsia had said [and I quote]: “The reason I got involved was [because of] the passion shown by the FAS. I looked at the fact that we could help a group of guys who were very passionate about local football.” [unquote]
23. Apart from sponsorships, FAS and its Business Development Committee, led by Mr Bennett Neo, was also actively involved in fundraising efforts and events, including the FAS Charity Golf Day, which raised a total of more than $340,000 last year. While our footballing programmes have been endorsed and praised by several leading football officials in recent years, they are also quick to add that it is crucial for us to secure more financial resources so as to maximise the potential of our players, coaches, referees and staff through overseas tours and attachment stints. Going forward, we will continue to work hard and strive to convince more corporations and CEOs of the value in football sponsorships, which is a key platform to enhance an organisation’s branding.
24. FAS continues to be involved in corporate social responsibility events aimed at lending a hand to the less privileged. With the support of its Chief Executive, Mr Tan Soo Nan, Singapore Pools – together with Sport Singapore and FAS – organised the second annual executive football charity fundraiser, “Football with a Heart” (FWAH), on 25 June 2013. The event raised $540,000 to benefit the nine chosen beneficiaries, exceeding the initial target amount of $400,000.
25. Strong leadership is key to the success of any organisation and FAS is humbled by the positive assessment of its strengths in leadership and management, both at the international and domestic levels. Following our ranking in 2012 as one of the top National Sports Associations in the Organisational Excellence (OE) report, FAS achieved a higher score in the latest review and ranking exercise. Among others, the post-review report noted that FAS “has a well-rounded strategic initiatives plan built into the MYSP (Multi-Year Sports Plan), and with each initiative a strategy is identified which then ties into KPIs”. It added that “the leadership appears to be very capable of continuing to take Football to the next level” – citing the reason that the FAS leadership has “vast marketing experience which is an asset that not many NSAs have the pleasure of having”.
26. Beyond Singapore, FAS continues to gain recognition for our strengths in administrative leadership and management. For instance, FFF Vice-President Bernard Desumer described FAS as "one of Asia's best football administrations" and also noted that our youth development structure has "achieved much despite operating on a much smaller budget compared to other countries in the region". More recently, Japan Football Association (JFA) Vice-President Kohzo Tashima highlighted Singapore’s strengths in administration at a press conference where it was announced that Singapore will head the Administration Committee of a partnership between the ASEAN Football Federation and the East Asian Football Federation.
27. FAS was also one of the shortlisted nominees for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Member Association of the Year. We are strongly encouraged by the positive assessments of both our management and our footballing programmes, and we will continue to tap on the expertise of leading Member Associations (MAs) to further raise our standards in all aspects of football.
Remembering the late Lee Kok Seng and Quah Kim Siak
28. The Singapore football fraternity mourned the passing of former national captain Lee Kok Seng, who passed away on 22 August 2014. Mr Lee is fondly remembered by the veterans of the local football community and Pioneer Generation members as one of Singapore's best-ever defenders who wore the skipper's armband from the mid-1950s to 1965. During his playing career, he led Singapore to four Malaya Cup victories. A minute of silence was observed at the S.League match between Warriors FC and Tampines Rover FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on 29 August 2014 in memory of Mr Lee.
29. We also lost Quah Kim Siak on 31 December 2013. He was the fourth of six brothers to play for Singapore, and was once lauded as the best footballer of all the Quahs by his brother Kim Song. In fact, he was seen by many to be one of the finest midfielders Singapore has ever produced. We remember their achievements, and grieve for their families.
Key Action Plans & Programmes Ahead
30. I will now touch on some of our key plans and programmes in the years ahead.
31. At last year’s AGM, I shared briefly with you that we were exploring the possibility of making a bid to host the FIFA Youth World Cup in 2019. One of our objectives in hosting the event is to further raise our standards and strengthen our youth development structure so that our teams will have a strong chance of qualifying for subsequent editions of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup on merit. The impact of hosting the event should not, and would not, be one-off. Instead, we would seek to achieve sustainable benefits for many years beyond the four-year preparatory phase (2016-2019) and month-long competition. We believe the hosting of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be a game-changer which will enhance the level of interest in, and standards of, Singapore football at both elite and grassroots levels. In addition, the hosting of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will benefit us not only from the sporting and footballing perspectives, but also rally the nation and provide a platform for us to further showcase our organisational efficiency as well as the ability to establish key infrastructure and capabilities rapidly.
32. We are pleased that the response from our stakeholders, including the media and fans, has been positive and encouraging. We have shared our interest and reasons in wanting to host the event with the relevant authorities, and have also established a Standing Committee, led by FAS Vice-President Edwin Tong, tasked to spearhead efforts in undertaking the various scope of work related to the potential bid for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. A study trip on the hosting of the event was made sometime late last year.
33. FAS is now in discussions with our key partners, including FIFA and Sport Singapore, and will prepare a detailed proposal which includes the benefits, timeline, budget and other requirements, as well as our detailed plans to ensure that the hosting of the event will leave a lasting legacy and also position us for more successes including qualification for subsequent editions of the competition on merit. The successful hosting of the event is dependent on several factors and requirements including the availability of manpower, infrastructure and facilities, and hence we would study the possibility of bidding for the 2021 edition if we are not ready to do so in 2019.
34. It is with regret that I inform you that Technical Director Slobodan Pavkovic has resigned. Slobodan first joined the FAS in April 2008 and has been working with his colleagues to reform and enhance the youth development structure and programmes, which have been praised by leading football officials including the then-FIFA Technical Director Jean-Michel Bénézet. That our youth development structure is endorsed by leading officials is testament to the good work and efforts put in by our technical colleagues, including Slobodan. We wish him well and we have commenced our search for the new Technical Director.
35. In view of our mid-term and long-term goals of hosting the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and thereafter qualifying for subsequent editions of the competition, we are looking for candidates who have experience in leading a team at FIFA’s or UEFA’s age-group world championships or a good track record as the Technical Director of a top team in Europe. Overseeing the long-term preparations for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019 or 2021 is however just one of the KPIs for the new Technical Director, who will also be tasked to build on the success of our youth development system and develop more youth players who have the quality to play in Europe. He will also be tasked to groom local coaches as part of our succession planning. FAS has identified a few high-profile candidates and we are on the search for more qualified applicants before we commence the official interviewing process. Ultimately, we will choose the best available person who will play a key role in the hosting of the FIFA U-17 World Cup (and subsequent qualification on merit) and in further strengthening our youth development structure with the aim of creating a winning team (at all age-group levels) for key competitions such as Asian Cup, Asian Games, FIFA Asian World Cup Qualifiers, Pre-Olympic Qualifiers, AFF Suzuki Cup, SEA Games and AFC/AFF age-group competitions.
36. Coach education is one of the key components of our Strategic Plan as our coaches and instructors play an integral role in the development of our youth footballers. In recent years, we have introduced key educational sessions including the Coaches Morning sessions and have also conducted the AFC Pro-Diploma course – the highest certification course in Asia. As we embark on the next phase of training and developing quality coaches at both the elite and grassroots levels, I would like to share with you that we are looking to bring on-board a Coach Instructor who will be tasked to groom and develop local coaches. Our objective is to raise the quality and quantity of coaches who will one day coach overseas. In addition to past coaching experience at the highest levels, he is also expected to be a FIFA or AFC Instructor – someone who can conduct top courses such as the Pro-Diploma course. We have already spoken with some potential candidates and we hope to announce the appointment sometime within the next two to three months.
37. Apart from technical personnel whom we want to bring on board and the FIFA Under-17 World Cup which we aspire to host, I am also pleased to share with you that the Asean Super League will likely kick off in early 2016. The President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has expressed his full support for the league, which he noted would help boost the standard of club football in the region. We have presented our vision and plans to FIFA and have also sought their approval for the formation of the league.
38. The ASL will benefit Singapore – as well as the other Member Associations in Southeast Asia – from various perspectives. From the football perspective, the participation of the Southeast Asian teams in the ASL will provide the players with international competitive match exposure on a weekly basis, and this will help to fast track their development, which will benefit the National Teams of the various countries. This will in turn help to narrow the gap in the standards between Asean teams and other Asian footballing countries. Apart from raising the standards of our footballers who will be exposed to quality components and various match atmospheres on a regular basis, the elite competition will also help to raise interest among Singaporeans in football and sports in general – not unlike what we have seen following the return of Singapore to the Malaysian league and Cup competitions. We believe the launch of the ASL in 2016 will further enhance the popularity of football and sports in Singapore.
39. The S.League, Singapore Lions, LionsXII and Young Lions play key roles in raising the various aspects of local football, including youth development and football excellence. On the LionsXII's participation in the Malaysian Super League, it has always been our aim to seek a judicious balance between development and competitiveness. Hence, our LionsXII squad is one of the youngest teams in the MSL this year. We will continue with a strong focus on development for 2015, and we will continue to support Fandi in developing more players who can be called up for national team duties.
40. As part of our preparations for the 2015 SEA Games, our national Under-23 squad underwent a month-long European training camp in Antalya, Turkey in early 2014 and a 16-day training stint in Austria in July. In addition to the invaluable exposure gained through taking on some of the top emerging talents in Europe, we are encouraged by the performances of our team, including victories over Austria Under-18 and Danish club Neastved BK and draws against the Under-21 sides of Denmark and Azerbaijan.
41. Our Under-23 team will be participating in the upcoming Asian Games football competition, which kicks off this Sunday. While we have been drawn in a tough group which also includes Oman, Palestine and Tajikistan, we acknowledge that our participation in a high-profile competition like the Asian Games is important for the long-term development of our younger players. For instance, the current starting lineup in defence for both the National ‘A’ Team and LionsXII includes goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, centre-halves Safuwan Baharudin and Afiq Yunos, and full-backs Shakir Hamzah and Faritz Abdul Hameed – who were all first-team players at the 2010 Asian Games where they took on traditional powerhouses Kuwait and Qatar. Other players who were in the 2010 Asian Games squad and have since progressed to the first 11 of the national team include Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman and Zulfahmi Arifin.
42. The National Team’s main assignment this year is the AFF Suzuki Cup. As the co-hosts and defending champions, Bernd Stange and his team are determined to put up a strong performance. The National Team recently underwent a 16-day training camp in Austria and several of the national team players are also in the Asian Games squad. As part of the final phase of our preparations, the National Team will take on Bahrain and possibly another strong team in the weeks leading to the Suzuki Cup.
43. FAS places strong emphasis on the development of our players, coaches and referees and as part of the next phase of our programme under the Football Development Fund, we have shortlisted youth players who may be placed on overseas attachments with European clubs in 2015. Going forward, we will actively utilise the FDF to identify and send potential and talented players, coaches, referees and staff for overseas attachments to enhance their capabilities and capacities.
44. Access to good quality training pitches and facilities has always been a perennial challenge for our teams. As I shared earlier, we appreciate the support of FIFA and Sport Singapore on the installation of a new set of artificial turf at Jalan Besar Stadium and the refurbishment of Geylang Field respectively. Our key long-term goal, as spelt out in the FAS Strategic Plan, is the establishment of a National Training Centre (NTC) which would serve as a platform to fulfil the training requirements of the national senior and age-group teams and also position Singapore as an international training hub. I am pleased to share that FAS and Sport Singapore are making progress in this area and we will make an announcement in due course.
45. One of our fans copied me in an email sent to a local publication last week. Mr Melvin Tan wrote [and I quote]: “Like fans of any other national teams around the world, I would love to see a specific training ground dedicated to the Lions. It is strange to see our national players training at Jalan Besar one day, Hougang the next day and Yishun the following week. Without a specific ground, how do we hone the skills of our players? Without a regular and familiar smooth flat surface, how do we expect the likes of Faritz Hameed to polish his skills such that he’s able to charge up 70 metres and whip in a cross ala Roberto Carlos style every 10 minutes or so?”
46. Mr Tan had written in response to a media article in which our former national coach and technical director, Mr P N Sivaji, had noted that the “key goals and programmes spelt out in the strategic plan are visionary and are integral to the long-term success of local football”. However, Mr Sivaji added that the unavailability of players for training and lack of facilities are “key structural issues which will always restrict the level of success we can achieve” – a point echoed by many observers, including Mr Melvin Tan. In a forum letter published by TODAY earlier this week, Mr Tan wrote [and I quote]: “We have a good strategic plan, encompassing youth development, and our players are talented. It is time the various stakeholder groups come together to resolve the structural problems plaguing not only local football, but all sports in Singapore. Until then, we will not scale new heights and realise our potential.” [unquote] We appreciate that many observers acknowledge the key issues and challenges we face, although I must add that we support National Service which is important to the nation. We will continue to work with our partners to maximise training and playing time for our players. Like Mr Sivaji and Mr Tan, we aspire to have a dedicated training facility which will fulfil the training requirements of our national and age-group teams. We will continue to engage our key partners and we remain hopeful on obtaining approval and support for the establishment of a Training Centre soon.
Corporate Partners and Sponsors
47. I would like to thank our sponsors who have contributed to the success of Singapore football, including the S.League, National Teams, Courts Young Lions and LionsXII, among others. On behalf of FAS, I would like to place on record our deepest appreciation to all of them. We look forward to their continued support and we remain committed to working with our sponsors to enhance both the branding of local football and their organisations.
48. I would also like to express our gratitude to the Ministries and government agencies that came on board to support the different key strategic areas of local football.
Volunteers & Fans
49. The success of our teams would not have been possible without the staunch support of our fans as well as volunteers, who spent hours of their own time working with us to develop local football in various ways. My colleagues and I are humbled by your unwavering support which is vital for the growth and progress of local football, including the emerging young players. We look forward to your continued support as we seek to further enhance our standards in the various aspects.
50. There has been enhanced media coverage of local football during the past year and we sincerely thank the members of the media for your continued support. While we may not always agree, I am heartened by the passion our friends from the media have. We will continue to work with you to further promote this beautiful product.
51. It has been four years since we launched our current Strategic Plan, and I want to acknowledge and put on record my appreciation for the hard work of the management and staff of the FAS so far. I fully agree with Mr Thavaneson who pointed out in a media article that our staff have invested a lot of time, resources and work to bring our plans to fruition. There are some constraints and challenges that we have to work around, but they are all committed to the cause and always looking at ways to further enhance standards. I think former national coach Vincent Subramaniam summed it up best when he recently told us: “FAS has achieved so much with so little.”
52. In conclusion, I would like to state that exciting times lie ahead – notwithstanding the challenges we face. Among other exciting developments, our plans to host or qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be a key event which will galvanise the nation. We have the organisational efficiency and infrastructure capabilities to host the event, and we are confident that the event will benefit Singapore beyond the sporting perspective. In addition, the opening of the new National Stadium and the launch of the Asean Super League are key developments which present us with opportunities to further raise our standards and bring more Singaporeans together through this sport. Ultimately, football – as one of the most popular sports – has a key role in the fulfilment of our social and community-related goals. We will bring on board quality personnel who have a good track record in Europe, including a Technical Director and Coach Instructor. We must, and we will, continue to work closely with our stakeholders as we strive towards the goals and objectives as envisaged in our Strategic Plan. Together as one family, we will embark on this journey together and I believe we will achieve more success in the coming years.