FAS: S.League to be feeder base for Asean Super League
S.League set to play a feeder role to regional club competition
The Asean Super League (ASL) is on track for a 2017 kick-off.
And the local S.League will soon transform itself so it can become an "important base" for the regional club competition.
At the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Annual General Meeting at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday evening, the FAS made it clear that it will make the ASL its top priority in the next few years.
"A lot of people have spoken about this, there have been many views," said FAS president Zainudin Nordin.
"It is something that is going to happen.
"This (South-east Asia) is a region of 600 million people crazy about football. You have an international competition, the AFF Suzuki Cup, then all the local leagues.
"The jump between going from (local) leagues to the Korean, Japanese, or European leagues, is just too big.
"This region requires an intermediate regional league.
"We need to fill in this gap with the Asean Super League. And it will happen. And, in my view, this is something very exciting."
According to S.League chief executive officer Lim Chin, the league will be "streamlined" so it fulfils a role as a feeder to the Singapore franchise competing in the ASL.
The S.League, entering its 21st season in 2016, has suffered from a lack of fan support in recent years, underwent an exhaustive review this year as football administrators attempt to chart its path from 2017 onwards.
It is understood the FAS has decided to look at moving it towards a more vibrant "developmental model" which is able to consistently churn out talented young local players.
Said Lim: "After the one-year review, we found all our stakeholders... agree that the most important objective for all (FAS) entities is to have a very strong national team.
"So, if we agree the ASL will be a good platform for us to build a strong national team, then we should all streamline and work together to achieve that.
"The S.League has to find (out) how it fits into this ecosystem, to support a strong ASL team, which will in turn be a strong national team.
"We're going to continue to look at this transformation in the coming months... The ASL team cannot exist on their own.
"The S.League, we think, is an important base where our professional footballers can fight for a place in this ASL team and, from then on, go beyond Asean, hopefully."
FAS vice-president Edwin Tong said losing S.League players to the ASL should not be considered a "setback".
Citing an anecdote of how Belgium's top stars ply their trades in the top leagues around Europe and not in the little-known Belgium Jupiler League, the Marine Parade Member of Parliament hopes local footballers can also ply their trade at higher levels in the future.
"We should look at it the same way," said Tong. "If our best S.League players graduate into the ASL team, it creates an opportunity for younger players to showcase themselves.
"We will then hear of new names... And that's the only way to keep the conveyor belt running."
While the move is aimed at breathing life into the flagging Singaproe football scene, some observers have wondered if Asean member federations such as Malaysia and Thailand, whose local leagues are thriving, would back the ASL.
But Zainudin retorted: "I would say from my interaction with colleagues from Asean, all of them have expressed positive views.
"All 12 members of AFF have put down in black and white their support."
He added that the ASL's regional league framework Fifa is in the process of approving would be applied all over the world, and that Asean would be "pioneers".
This week in...1987
Warriors' extend home run to 15 wins
MasterChef Asia winner discusses bartender gig and cookbook plans
MasterChef Asia winner Woo Wai Leong plans to continue bartending as he pens cookbook
"Can I fix you a drink?"
This is what MasterChef Asia winner Woo Wai Leong asks us, by way of welcome, at cocktail bar The Horse's Mouth.
While viewers are used to seeing the 27-year-old from the reality TV cooking show preparing fancy dishes in the kitchen, he is equally comfortable shaking cocktails behind the bar.
The trained lawyer has been working at that bar for the last five months. "This gig is part of who I am right now," he said. "So I'll continue doing this for a while.
"When you're in F&B, it's only natural to have knowledge of both food and beverages if you want to be well-rounded."
While training to become a lawyer, Woo worked part-time as a bartender in places like L'Aiglon. He chose bartending over barista training because he "didn't want to get up so early".
His shifts typically last from 4pm to 1am, and he often goes home past 3am.
Woo is excited to be part of the "cocktail boom" in recent years, where craft cocktails have become popular. Still, he does not have a signature drink, and prefers to serve classic cocktails with a twist.
"Since I won MasterChef Asia, I notice that my guests are more willing to try different drinks because they recognise me," he said. "So I use that to my advantage and persuade them to order drinks I like to make," he said cheekily.
Still, he denied he gets more female attention as a bartender and a MasterChef Asia winner.
"Honestly, I treat all my guests the same," he said.
As Asia's MasterChef champ who beat contestants from around the region in the inaugural season finale on Dec 10, Woo's prizes included US$50,000 (S$70,300) and a chance to publish his own cookbook.
The MasterChef Asia repeat telecast will be aired on Lifetime (StarHub TV Ch 514) daily from 11am to 2pm till Jan 2.
Though planning for the book is still in the early stages, he's excited by the prospect and has a vision of what it should look like.
"It would be great if my face wasn't on the cover, but somehow I don't think that will be possible," he said.
His own cookbook collection includes those by his favourite restaurants like Relae in Copenhagen and St. John in London, and chefs such as Marco Pierre White and Justin Quek.
"I'm waiting to have that autographed someday," he says of local chef Quek's book.
"Overall, I prefer cookbooks put out by restaurants. I think the days of celebrity chefs publishing books under their names are ending, as the trend is now focused on restaurants and their teams."
As to having his own restaurant, Woo admitted it was expected of him but he is in no hurry to start one.
"I think opening my own restaurant next year is unrealistic; I wouldn't call it a safe investment. Who is going to follow someone who just won a cooking competition? The attention I get now is limited. If there is a second season, the spotlight will shift to the new winner.
"But I'm still focused on F&B. I'm not planning to go back to law, even as a backup plan. Even if you fail in this industry, if you really want to do this, you'll pick yourself up. It's not good to have too many options."
Woo plans to build up his repertoire next year, working on his cookbook and hopes to travel to Europe for culinary inspiration. He is also considering a food pop-up with fellow MasterChef Asia contestants like Singaporean Lennard Yeong.
"In 2016, I also plan to go on a diet and lose some weight," he said.
"I did manage to keep this year's resolution, which was to cut down on diet soda - the aspartame in it was affecting my taste buds - so hopefully, I can keep next year's too."
DC going for gold in 2016
2016 will be a bumper year for Marvel and DC fans as both sides of the superhero divide fight for box-office supremacy.
Here's the DC line-up
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (March 24)
As we've witnessed in the trailers, get ready for some major superhero-on-superhero action.
The long-gestating sequel to 2013's Man Of Steel will see Superman (Henry Cavill) go to war with Batman (Ben Affleck) over conflicting ideals.
Throw in a scheming Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Supes could be in for a very hard time.
Batman v Superman is kicking off the DC Extended Universe's Justice League - the DC equivalent of the Avengers - movie franchise and other planned solo spin-offs.
It mirrors Marvel's wildly successful game plan, which started with individual adventures (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger) before giving the audience the hero-stuffed The Avengers and its sequel.
So to watch Batman and Superman, two of the most iconic comic book superheroes of all time, together on the big screen is a fanboy's dream come true.
We'll also be introduced to another favourite, Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince (Gal Gadot).
Whether in her metal corset costume or glamorous gowns, the Amazonian goddess has already captured the attention of fanboys everywhere, and the heart of the moody Dark Knight.
Other Justice League types like Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg will also make appearances.
According to Forbes, Batman v Superman is expected to perform well at the box office based on the two big names' global appeal alone. It projects the movie to earn north of US$800 million (S$1.13 billion).
More importantly, it could finally be the film that will see DC's superstars playing second fiddle to Marvel's top dogs no more.
SUICIDE SQUAD (Aug 4)
Called Task Force X and nicknamed Suicide Squad, this is a unique ensemble simply because they are made up of supervillains who are deniable, secret assets of the US government who undertake high-risk covert operations in exchange for commuted prison sentences.
The roster includes Deadshot (Will Smith), an expert marksman and assassin; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a peppy psychotic; Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), the man who turns boomerangs into lethal weapons; Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a powerful sorceress; and their sometime field leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), an elite soldier and one of the few members who isn't a bad guy.
These characters - and even some of the actors themselves - may not be instantly recognisable and are categorised as DC's B-list "hero" team, but one individual stands out and will likely be the scene-stealing star of the show.
Joker is played by Oscar-winning Jared Leto, who reportedly went all method to pull off the sociopathic role, one that Forbes claims could be as memorable as Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning portrayal in The Dark Knight (2008).
According to Smith, Leto was so intense on set that the two of them never had one conversation outside of their characters.
Other instances of extreme behaviour?
He sent Robbie a live rat, delivered bullets to Smith and ordered the actor who plays his henchman to go out, find a rose bush and spray-paint them all black.
Commercially, it's pretty safe to say Suicide Squad doesn't stand a chance against the combined might of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
But with David Ayer (End Of Watch, Fury) at the helm, the story and direction will be much darker and grittier than Zack Snyder's (Man Of Steel) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
There's also much anticipation that Batman (Affleck is said to have a cameo in Suicide Squad) will cross over to kick Joker's ass.
Singapore film company CEO: Everyone has a voice
CEO of local film company behind such hits as the Ah Boys To Men movies shares his management secrets & more
For Mr Melvin Ang, chief executive officer of local film production company mm2 Asia, the biggest perk of running his own business is that he gets to wear shorts to work.
The 52-year-old said candidly in an interview with M: "A banker can't do that, a chairman in a corporate world can't do that. If I run my business like a corporate firm, the company's productivity gets pulled down."
He added: "In (mm2), everyone has a voice of his or her own. We have an open concept office, which encourages creativity. I don't believe in writing reports or asking my employees to use time cards. The more you try to control your employees, the more they will try to break free."
And it seems like Mr Ang's approach is working.
mm2 Asia, which was formed in 2008, was listed on the Singapore Exchange last year. It enjoyed huge successes this year, with box office-breaking local movie Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen collecting $7.8 million.
It also produced other home-grown films this year, including Royston Tan's 3688 and Mr Unbelievable, starring Chen Tianwen. It had a major hand in helping the entire local industry evolve and grow.
For the first half of the 2016 financial year, mm2 reportedly had earnings of $4 million and revenue rose 31 per cent to $12.7 million.
mm2 Asia announced this month that it will raise approximately $5 million from a new share placement to three investors - Hesheng Media, Apex Capital Group and Maxi-Harvest Group.
Mr Ang said in a statement: "This placement underscores investor confidence in our future growth as we take on larger and higher-value projects while moving down the value chain.
"The additional funds will also help us to reduce our borrowings...
"Our board are heartened by their support and confidence and are committed to see mm2 Asia to greater heights."
There is no sign of slowing down.
In the pipeline for next year are eight to 10 movies, some of which will tap into regional markets such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
For Mr Ang, there are two main criteria for choosing a project - commercial viability and storyline.
"As a business, we need to make money. Sometimes, we do a movie to tell a story, to contribute back to society, but the rule of thumb is that it has to be commercially viable," he said.
"However, the most fundamental thing is the story itself. It has to attract the mass audience. For example, Ah Boys to Men was able to reach a broad audience of all ages."
Mr Ang has collaborated with most of the home-grown directors, including Eric Khoo, Chai Yee Wei, Royston Tan and Jack Neo.
When asked who was the easiest - and the most difficult - to work with, he laughed and said: "Don't put me in a spot. To be a director, you must have a mind of your own and you cannot be easily influenced.
"All of them have their own styles and are very talented."
He added: "We have to cater to them and work well together. Most of them have the potential to do movies outside of Singapore, so it's really about nurturing them and getting them to be exposed to a bigger market."
Don't put me in a spot. To be a director, you must have a mind of your own and you cannot be easily influenced. All of them have their own styles and are very talented.
- Mr Melvin Ang, who laughed when we asked him who was the easiest and most difficult local director to work with