Home United want it all
With fitness, discipline and commitment, Protectors want to 'win everything'
Smiles appeared around the room at HomeTeamNS Balestier yesterday as Home United chairman Anselm Lopez started his speech by saying he would not be reading from the script.
It was the club's launch ahead of the new S.League season, where they would traditionally unveil their squad and kit for the year.
But Lopez went distinctly off-script, turning smiles into a stunned silence as he summoned his players into the room, ahead of the unveiling, and waited on stage as they trudged in and sat down.
The strategic relations director of the International Cooperation and Partnerships division of the Ministry of Home Affairs then launched into a impassioned speech outlining the club's values of fitness, discipline and commitment.
"Don't be afraid to shed blood, to be wholly committed, wholly loyal," he said solemnly.
It did appear to be a lecture, of a chairman drawing the line in the sand, warning of consequences for poor fitness, and even red cards that would see "punishment beyond imagination".
But Lopez saw it as merely setting the stage for success.
"I wasn't drawing the line, I'm asking them to draw the line. We've provided the place, the system, the coaches and expertise for the players to become the best that they can be," he told The New Paper after stepping off the stage.
"Every great ambition starts with the first steps... and we're going to win everything. We're going to be the best in everything we can be - fitness, discipline and commitment," he added, reiterating the club's values implemented since he took the reins in 2012.
Home head coach Philippe Aw sang from the same hymn book.
"(Lopez ) may seem a bit fierce, but he's setting the tone, and we want to be just as fierce on the pitch too," said Aw, who clarified that Lopez's red-card punishment was reserved for avoidable offences stemming from petulance, violence and the like.
Under Aw's watch, Home finished sixth in the 10-team S.League last year and were losing finalists in the RHB Singapore Cup.
The coach is looking for more - and better - this year.
"We want to play good football, while grooming youth, but we also want success, and that's not easy to do," added the 39-year-old, who is into only his second season as head coach in the S.League.
"We've got a young team, but it does not mean that a young team cannot challenge," he added of his squad that have an average age of 24.4 years.
Home boast notable young players such as Mahathir Azeman, who spent one-and-a-half years honing his craft at Brazilian club Boavista, as well as Irfan Fandi and Shamil Sharif who represented Singapore at last year's South-east Asia Games.
Instead of following Tampines Rovers' lead in signing former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant, Lopez says Home will put their faith in young blood.
"We're not into big names, we're in the business of creating these big names," he said.
"We always want to win, without a doubt... it's 100 per cent or nothing at all. And we're ready."
Home Kick off their campaign against Warriors FC in the season's first uniformed derby at Bishan Stadium tomorrow.