Valencia president Chan Lay Hoon talks to David Lee

She may be the only female president of a top European football club. Valencia's CHAN LAY HOON tells DAVID LEE what a day in her life is like and how she plans to revive the fortunes of one of Spain's most storied clubs.

VALUE IN VALENCIA WORK: Valencia president Chan Lay Hoon (above) says her current job is one of the most meaningful she's had.
VALENCIA IN SINGAPORE: Valencia’s Javi Fuego (left, in blue) and Jaume Domenech posing with foreign domestic workers at Chijmes yesterday, in support of the UN Women’s campaign for FDWs to get a weekly day off.
VALENCIA IN SINGAPORE: Valencia players signing autog

You have an extensive and illustrious CV in corporate management, corporate finance and investments, hospitality and food and beverage. Has it helped in your role as executive president and chairperson of Valencia?

Chan Lay Hoon: Not really (laughs). I think it has been a very interesting and exciting experience the last 12 months.

Managing a football club is very different from managing any business. Business strategies for the club and financial considerations are important, but it is more than that.

There is one unique component to this project - the human aspect, which includes the fans, the Valencians, the community and the players. It can get very emotional, sometimes.

What is your typical day like at the club?

It is a very busy day from early morning to late at night. I may go to the training centre to watch training, or I'll start with a meeting in the office.

I will then have a business lunch because there are many people who want to connect with us on matters that could be sporting-related.

There will be people requesting our help to expand Valencia businesses to Singapore or Singaporean businesses interested in investing in Valencia.

There is also community work, which I attend sometimes in the evening. There are many, many local events which I receive invitations to and I try my best to attend.

Then there is all the office work, so it is normally a very, very long day.

And in football, it is a seven-day week because the matches are usually on the weekends, not just the first-team matches. I also go for the second-team matches and the women's first-team matches whenever I can.

Of all your appointments, this has to rank as the most taxing?

Yes, it is one of the most challenging jobs. But after these 12 months, I also find that it is one of the most meaningful and it gives a lot of satisfaction.

When we have a bad game, everyone is so down and unhappy, but when we have a good game, you see the joy and satisfaction at the stadium, I just cannot describe that. It is just fantastic.

Usually, I spend half a month in Singapore and half a month in Valencia. When you go overseas and into an industry like this, that is what you have to be prepared to do.

What does your son think about mum running a La Liga club?

My son is 23, so you know, the players are like my sons because they are around the same age. Some, like Santi (Mina) who is 20, are even younger.

My son is a football fan. He played football for his schools like ACS (International) and St Joseph's Institution.

I think he is very excited about what I do.

Well, he would text me after every match, what he thinks about the game.

What's your sporting background?

I'm not a very sporty person now. When I was in school, I did play table tennis and I was involved in athletics.

But once you start working, it is very hard to continue these sports. So now sometimes I swim a little bit, and that's it.

For someone so used to working behind the scenes, what is it like having to deal with the constant media spotlight?

This is not me. This is not the natural side of me, but if I have to do it to make the fans understand us, to communicate more, then I will do it.

We usually keep a low profile, especially for Singaporeans and Asians, because we prefer to let our management of our businesses do the talking.

This project is very different. Football is such a high-profile sport, it is unavoidable we are in the limelight, and even more so in Spain, where the club president is held in very high regard, as compared to the English, who focus more on the managers.

The Spanish culture is more expressive and in the past, the Valencia president talked to the media every day.

But I don't and initially they felt that I was distant. They don't hear anything from me, they don't see me, they don't know whether we care about what's going on.

It has been a year of both sides getting to know each other.

That's why on this trip, I took the opportunity to bring along four main Spanish media here - from Marca, AS, Levante and Las Provincias - to get Valencians to understand, to know where Singapore is, to know what Singapore is like, how we built our country, and it's important to get to know and appreciate each 
other's culture.

I have been very transparent and honest with our fans and all the employees at our club. People can see we are genuinely trying to rebuild this club.

Do you think two years after Peter Lim bought the club for 420-million euros ($656 million), Valencians have warmed to Singaporean ownership?

I would say that overall, many Valencia people are very appreciative of what Peter has done.

He has saved the club which has such a long history.

Back then, I was leading the acquisition process. It was a very long and demanding process because there were seven or eight bidders for Valencia at that point.

In the end, we managed to convince everyone. We had to present and go through a board of trustees that had 20 members and, in our first round of voting, we actually got all 20 votes because they believed we presented a project not just based on the financial aspect, but also took due consideration of the sporting and social angles as well.

In the second round, we got 18 out of 20 votes and we were happy with that.

First season, we were very successful to qualify for the Champions League. Maybe that set a very high expectation for the second season.

And when the second season was not so smooth, all the huge disappointment came in. But I would say generally, Valencians know that we have achieved financial stability for the club.

Pako Ayestaran replaced Gary Neville on March 31. He attended a press conference as part of this Valencia visit. Can we expect him to continue as manager?

I have no specific comment on that. We are taking careful considerations on who is going to be the manager next season. When it is ready, we will make the announcement.

Valencia fans expect results on the pitch as well. What is your message to them? Will there be more investments to boost the squad?

We have told everyone from the first day that our goal is to compete at the highest level in European competitions, which is the Champions League, on a regular and sustainable basis.

That has always been our goal and it will be the same next season. We want to be challenging for the title and other cup competitions. If we can do that, it would be fantastic.

The key thing is to plan for a balanced squad. What we learnt from the last season was that our squad was a bit too young and inexperienced.

Sevilla have just won the Europa League and two Spanish teams, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, are in the Champions League final, so the La Liga standard is very, very high.

Last year, our Under-19s qualified for the knockout rounds of the Uefa Youth League, which runs in parallel for teams in the Champions League. We have a very good team and I travelled with them to give them support.

We lost to (eventual winners) Chelsea in the Round of 16 on penalties because of what we still think was a wrong judgment by the referees and it was big disappointment for our Under-19s.

So we have a good team and good players, but they are young. When you are down, you need to be strong mentally to face the fight.


Yes, it is one of the most challenging jobs. But after these 12 months, I also find that it is one of the most meaningful and it gives a lot of satisfaction.

— Valencia president Chan Lay Hoon on managing a football club

My son is 23, so you know, the players are like my sons because they are around the same age... he would text me after every match, what he thinks about the game.

— Chan on her football-loving son

The key thing is to plan for a balanced squad. What we learnt from the last season was that our squad was a bit too young and inexperienced.

— Chan on improving Valencia for next season

1st at last

After eight second-place finishes, Denmark finally win Thomas Cup

WINNING POINT: Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (above) wins the final singles match to clinch the Thomas Cup for Denmark.
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8 girls picked for Round 2 of TNP New Face

Teenager is youngest and first of 8 picks in TNP New Face street hunt and all 8 get direct pass to Round 2

POTENTIAL MODEL: (Above) Myanmar national Khin Zarni Koko (left, in crop top) was also picked by New Face alumni.
YOUNGEST: The first and youngest girl scouted during the street hunt for The New Paper New Face 2016 was Shermaine Lee (left), 14, who was spotted outside a Bugis Sephora store.
POTENTIAL MODEL: All five of last year's New Face finalists posing for a picture during the street hunt for The New Paper New Face 2016.
Shermaine Lee

Eight girls are through to Round 2 of The New Paper New Face 2016.

They were hand-picked by five of last year's New Face finalists, who went on a street hunt at Bugis+ and Bugis Junction yesterday to identify girls with the potential to do well in the annual modelling competition.

Eighteen girls were approached over two hours, and eight were given a passport to the closed-door audition in Round 2, allowing them to skip the walk-in audition next Sunday.

The sky might have been dark when the search began at 1pm, but spirits were high as last year's winner Selynna Norhisham, second runner-up Lee Qian Hui, and finalists Vanessa Ho, Joeypink Lai and Melissa Poh started looking over the afternoon crowd at Bugis+.

Within minutes, the New Face alumni spotted the first girl they thought had the potential to do well. The girl, spotted outside Sephora, was also the youngest find of the day.

Shermaine Lee, 14, was shopping with her mother when the New Face girls approached her.

Having never been scouted before, she was excited and shocked to be selected.

She told The New Paper: "I've heard of New Face and knew it was about finding potential models."

The dancer and synchronised swimmer at St Margaret's Secondary School was open to the experience of competing in New Face, saying: "If I can do it, I'll do it."

Several minutes later, the New Face alumni rushed in excitement when they spotted Khin Zarni Koko, 23, at a sale on the ground floor.

The Myanmar national was choosing shoes for her dad's birthday. She was given a passport immediately as a vote of confidence from the New Face alumni.

She said: "When the New Face girls approached me, I just smiled at them because I'm a nurse and I'm used to smiling," she said.

She was happy to take part in the contest because of the opportunities such modelling competitions offered.

"Of course, I'm going to join. These competitions could give me more exposure to the local fashion industry. It's my dream to work in fashion," she said.

The New Face alumni were equally excited about the street hunt.

Lee Qian Hui had been scouted at Bugis+ during last year's street hunt.

She said: "It's interesting to be the one doing the scouting. I now know that there's a lot of hard work involved in chasing the girls we see."

She said she felt nostalgic during the street hunt and said she felt good about the girls chosen this year.

She said: "A lot of today's girls are very young. If they make it through the competition, they're at a good age to start their modelling career.

"New Face is a good platform for that."

Online alert helps autistic boy

All 35 Neighbourhood Police Centres in Singapore have their own Facebook pages. Officers tell TAN TAM MEI and SHAFFIQ ALKHATIB how they use Facebook to help the community and solve crimes

TEAMWORK: (From left) Inspector Kevin Lee, Sergeant Peh Chi Siong, Staff Sergeant Rosminah Samsuri and Sergeant Muhd Safuan Sahul Hameed tracked down the autistic teen and helped his family.
POPULAR: Sengkang NPC's Facebook page, which has about 10,700 likes, has improved communication with the police and the residents.
LIGHT-HEARTED: Posts the Sengkang NPC created for its Facebook page.
LIGHT-HEARTED: Posts the Sengkang NPC created for its Facebook page.

There are 35 Neighbourhood Police Centres (NPCs) in Singapore and each one has its own Facebook page.

Sengkang NPC is leading the way in reaching out to residents using social media with it being the most 'popular' with around 10,700 'likes'.

The Sengkang team frequently posts memes and videos on Facebook and this has improved their engagement with the community and also helped them to solve crimes through tip-offs.

One tip-off they received was about a neighbourhood “terror” that was loose on the streets of Sengkang.

The Sengkang NPC officers were first alerted about him through a private message via its Facebook page.

A concerned resident wrote that a teenage boy had been cycling recklessly on pavements and was going around the neighbourhood harassing and staring at pedestrians as though challenging them to a fight.

It later turned out that the boy is autistic and his family was in financial need.

Although there was no 'crime' involved, officers from the NPC worked together to help him and his family, by linking them up with various agencies who could provide them with social and financial help.

Get the full story in our print edition (May 23).

Subscribe to The New Paper in print and digital here. 

Theron and Penn go from lovers to strangers

Director Sean Penn (2ndR) and cast members Zubin Cooper, Jean Reno, Jared Harris, Adele Exarchopoulos, Javier Bardem and Charlize Theron pose during a photocall for the film The Last Face in competition at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 20, 2016.

Now this is awkward.

Former lovers Charlize Theron and Sean Penn were visibly frosty towards each other during both the Cannes Film Festival photo call and the red carpet premiere for their movie The Last Face, which she stars in and which he directed.

The 40-year-old South African actress and 55-year-old US actor broke up last June after a two-year relationship.

PHOTO: REUTERS

A source told People magazine: "There was no contact between them, not a thing. Really, like they'd never met. There was always someone in between them - at least one person."

Theron and Penn arrived at the events separately and did not acknowledge each other while talking to reporters.

It was only towards the end of the premiere that the ex-couple were snapped giving each other a friendly embrace and kiss on the cheek.

 

School of frock: Cannes Film Festival edition

Week 2 of the Cannes Film Festival is done and dusted and we continue to be spoilt by the mother lode of red carpetry

Czech model Petra Nemcova poses as she arrives on May 17, 2016 for the screening of the film Julieta at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France.

BELLA HADID (B+)

Premiere of The Unknown Girl at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France

Gown: Alexandre Vauthier

Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti

File this under traffic-stopping. Gigi Hadid's younger sis takes no prisoners in a seriously sexy crimson silk wrap slip dress with a thigh slit cut up to there and a neckline plunging down to there. This could've easily veered into skanky territory, but she's got the perfect body and moody attitude to make it red hot.


KRISTEN STEWART (B-)

Premiere of Personal Shopper at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France

Dress: Chanel

Shoes: Christian Louboutin

Call me crazy, but those white shredded tulle and lace sleeves are pretty damn fabulous. I'm even digging the unexpected red eyeshadow and mussed curls.


GWEN STEFANI (D+)

KIIS FM's Wango Tango 2016 in Los Angeles

Outfit: Not known

She's already snagged herself a rebound boyfriend in Blake Shelton, so why does post-divorce Stefani feel the urge to show us she's still got it at 46? This ghastly combination of dip-dyed hair, belly button-flaunting sheer top, army cargo capris and sparkly gold pumps should only be attempted by desperate 20-year-olds.


RILEY KEOUGH (D)

Premiere of American Honey at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France

Gown: Gucci

I'd look just as miserable if my stylist forced me into something made out of crepe paper streamers in the colour of baby poo.


WHO WORE IT BETTER?

SARAH PAULSON
FX's For Your Consideration event for The People v. O.J. Simpson - American Crime Story in Los Angeles, April 4

KRISTEN BELL
NBC Universal 2016 Upfront Presentation in New York City, May 16

When you have two thin blondes in the exact same red Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini embroidered frock, it's the little things that make all the difference and produce extreme results. The lengths of Bell's ruffled sleeves and skirt hem are just right, and she injects a more breezy and relaxed vibe. In Paulson's case, the fit is off and the whole thing just feels heavy and dreary.


The whole thing about the Met (Gala) is you spend like three hours getting ready and then you get your photo taken, and then you go in and unstrap your girdle and eat your dinner.

- US actress Mindy Kaling enjoyed attending the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this month

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YOUR SAY

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