FAS turns its attention to NFL
From sponsors to pitches, national football body pledges more support for lower-tier league
By the end of next week, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will call for the first democratic election of its leadership, with the amateur National Football League (NFL) poised to be a key battle ground for votes.
FAS provisional council president Lim Kia Tong revealed to The New Paper last week that the NFL will come under his personal purview as chairman of the NFL committee and, on the sidelines of a sponsorship announcement of NFL side Kembangan United yesterday, Lim revealed more initiatives.
"I will take charge of the NFL - we are trying to give more prominence and value to the NFL, and that's why as president of the FAS' provisional council, I thought it would be good for me to personally attend to their issues," Lim told TNP at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The 2017 NFL - pencilled in for a mid-April kick-off - will see a 23-team, two-division competition made up of 10 NFL clubs, and 13 of the 14 sides from 2016's Island Wide League (IWL).
Woodlands Wellington have pulled out their IWL side, but will still retain their right to vote in the election by virtue of their active Women's Premier League side.
The 2017 NFL will feature 23 of the FAS' 46 affiliates, making up 50 per cent of all votes at the election.
Lim asserts that work has already been done to help the clubs out, including waiving registration fees for the 2017 season, helping clubs find pitches to play friendly games, and also to obtain affordable insurance for their players.
The FAS is also in the process of wooing sponsors for the competition.
"In the past, we have put a lot of emphasis on elite football, and we have, in a way, neglected this group of people," said Lim.
Kembangan are one club who are not resting on their laurels despite the FAS' moves.
Under chairman Albert Ng, Kembangan yesterday announced three sponsors they have secured ahead of the 2017 season: sportswear company Warrix, fitness company Activ Fitness and former S.League side Gombak United.
Yesterday, Warrix was unveiled as the Thailand national team's kit sponsor, after signing a four-year deal that will see Thai teams including youth sides, women's teams and beach football and futsal teams through to its senior national team.
"But we are not just looking at successful teams, we want to support clubs who are building and doing the right thing in terms of nurturing players, like Kembangan," said Warrix executive director, George Lo, who revealed that Warrix's sponsorship of Kembangan is worth upwards of $10,000.
Warrix also sponsors Malaysian sides such as Kedah and Sabah, but revealed it has yet to look at clubs playing in the S.League, but they like what they see from Kembangan and the NFL.
Warrix will get air time with its Kembangan sponsorship, with Lim revealing that the FAS will offer weekly "live" streaming of an NFL fixture this season as part of its initiatives, in addition to an increase in prize money for the NFL competition.
Lim asserts that the FAS' efforts on the NFL are important.
"They (NFL club officials and players) are so passionate about the game that they rush after work to go and train and play competitively," he said.
"It is only justifiable for us to do more for them."