Valencia court local fans with new club at Brewerkz
Imagine interacting via video with a triumphant Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo or captain Dani Parejo after a win.
This is just one of many ways local supporters can connect with the La Liga club, once the official Singapore branch of the Valencia fan club is established before the end of this season.
Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim took over the Spanish club in a deal reportedly worth $720 million last May, and the new owner is keen to grow Valencia's fan base in Asia, starting with Singapore.
To kick things off, there will be a "live" screening of Valencia's home game against David Moyes' Real Sociedad from 7pm this Sunday at the Riverside Point branch of Brewerkz Microbrewery and Restaurants, where the fan club will be based.
"Beautiful football, beautiful food, beautiful fans - we really hope to be able to rally Singaporeans to rally behind a Singaporean-owned club," Valencia spokesman Andy Yun told The New Paper at Brewerkz yesterday.
"We have got the executive chef to prepare a Valencia dessert called 'bunuelos', we will be screening a video of the historical moments of our club, and we will also be playing the Valencia anthem to create a special mini-Mestalla experience.
"The club are doing well with our youth development. We have a team with an average age of 24 and we are currently fourth and on course for Champions League qualification.
"We already have 100 supporters on board and we are open to more people joining us, be it to support Valencia or just out of curiosity."
Admission to Brewerkz is free from 6pm on Sunday and, while Valencia merchandise will also be available on sale, there will be a top lucky draw prize of a Valencia jersey signed by striker Alvaro Negredo.
Lim's 23-year-old daughter, Kim, dubbed "Valencia's Singapore Angel" by the fans, will watch the match and mingle with the fans.
Yun also revealed grander plans for the Valencia fan club here.
He said: "As far as I know, there is no official fan club for any La Liga team in Singapore, and a lot of fan clubs don't provide enough content or engagement with fans.
"Eventually, our fan club committee will comprise not just Singaporeans, but also Valencians who live here so that they can share with us their culture and lifestyle.
"We will be bringing the football club to Asia for the next five years.
"Our first priority is Singapore and, if we can work something out with promoters, the team could be here as early as end of July.
"If the team do come, we could organise a futsal match with fans but, besides that, we can also make match tickets and club merchandise more accessible, as well as special packages for tours to the Mestalla, where arrangements can be made for our local fans to meet the players."
All these are good news for the small but growing number of Valencia fans here.
David Chng, a 23-year-old final-year marketing undergraduate who runs the Valencia CF Singapore Facebook page, hopes that having a strong Singaporean link will help to give the numbers a boost.
"Football fans here should give La Liga and especially Valencia a chance. It's no longer just a two-horse race (between Real Madrid and Barcelona) and it's more technical than physical," he said.
"Since my older brother gave me a Valencia jersey about 10 years ago, I have supported the club through the high of winning the league in 2004 and their instability before Peter Lim took over.
"I have also been to the Mestalla and I'm inspired by the deep history that goes back almost 100 years.
"Although the Facebook page has more than 1,600 likes, I think there are around 50-odd Valencia fans, which we hope will grow with more events like the 'live' screening this Sunday."
James Chin, a 32-year-old who has been a Valencia fan since Hector Cuper led them to two Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, added: "It's great to have a club that fans can really call their own, to be able to own their merchandise and interact with the coach and players.
"We can do more on social and mainstream media, and more events like the one on Sunday to help grow the number of Valencia fans here."
Besides growing the fan base, Yun is also optimistic that young and talented Singaporean footballers can join Valencia in the future.
He said: "Our vision is to see Singaporean footballers become top notch. There is definitely potential, but they have to meet our requirements first.
"Size is definitely not a factor. Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao are not particularly tall players, but they are world class.
"We are currently in talks with the Football Association of Singapore to see how we can help to develop the standard of local football through the grassroots.
"Hopefully, in the future, we can give some Singaporeans the chance to feature in European football again."
- Football fans who are keen to attend the "live" screening of the La Liga match between Valencia and Real Sociedad at Brewerkz (Riverside Point) on Sunday can contact Andy Yun at 9733-0295.