R Sasikumar on Game Changers: 'They covered the bread and butter of local football'
Former national defender R Sasikumar gives his take on the Game Changers' blueprint
In a five-page document entitled "A fresh start and a new beginning" e-mailed to the media yesterday evening, Team Game Changers made a final push to convince the 44 voting affiliates ahead of today's election that they are the right team to run the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
Before they delved into their plans, the e-mail read: "There is so much we can do together for Singapore football and, like we have shared on multiple occasions over the last few months, there is so much more we want to do.
"But first, we need your trust, and we need your partnership, to help us carry out the revamp and rejuvenation of Singapore football."
Former Singapore international defender R Sasikumar, who is also the managing director of sports marketing agency Red Card Global, felt that like Team LKT, Team Game Changers have "covered the bread and butter points of football management" with their manifesto.
Below is his take on the key points of the Game Changers' manifesto.
The team aim to review, streamline and invest in the FAS administration and ensure, through a clear and fair HR policy, a first-class secretariat to ensure their plans are fully and effectively implemented.
Sasikumar said: "The controversy surrounding Tiong Bahru Football Club's $500,000 to the Asean Football Federation through the FAS and the fallout that followed have made this point more important and rightfully so.
"Singapore is driven by systems and sometimes we take them for granted. We cannot be complacent about this."
Professional referees will be introduced and coaching promoted as a rewarding career option.
"Many leagues, such as Malaysia, have already taken revenue to professionalise refereeing. We are also trying to do that in the inaugural Philippines Football League and it's a good move," said Sasikumar, whose company holds the exclusive commercial rights to the Philippines Football League.
In broad strokes, the Game Changers plan to revamp the S.League to be self-sustainable and professional in all aspects, including remuneration, quality of human resources, existence of adequate administrative, legal and compliance support, mindsets, and fan connection.
Sasikumar said: "There must be radical revolution and not evolution. There needs to be absolute visual change."
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
The NFL will be a more involved component in Singapore football, with plans to push them towards professionalism.
These plans include securing medical coverage, links with foreign clubs, more recognition through higher prize money and an awards night, and training courses for coaches and officials. There is also talk of reviving the Business Houses League.
"There are many more points for the NFL than the S.League, and I believe it's true for both teams, perhaps because the majority of the 44 affiliates are from the NFL," said Sasikumar.
"For too long, the S.League, NFL and Island Wide League have existed as separate and multiple structures.
"Future plans must be complementary and streamlined to a single structure.
"The key questions are how are these plans going to be fulfilled and when can we see the changes such as the promotion/relegation system?"
Generating more opportunities and interest is the main thrust. Existing clubs will be encouraged to start women's teams.
Sasikumar said: "I really hope this doesn't become just a reason to tick a box.
"Women's football is very important to the ecosystem and has a place in Singapore football. It must be handled as a separate project. But, with the resources we have, it remains to be seen whether it is sustainable."
A key point for the Game Changers is to make the National Training Centre (NTC), an idea mooted for many years, a reality.
He said: "If The Cage can have a few fields at Turf City and be lucrative, I don't see why the NTC can't be. It's all about being entrepreneurial. It can be a commercial venture and it's been done in other countries."
A review of the youth development scheme and scouting network to start a credible system to track and develop talents.
Sasikumar said: "Something needs to be done because, as of now, the National Football Academy seems to have killed that because it seems like if a talent doesn't make it to the NFA, that's the end.
"Scouting doesn't have to be restricted to Singapore. It can be done globally like what the Philippines are doing, but neither team have addressed that."
COMMERCIALISATION OF FOOTBALL
A Business Development Unit will be set up, with talks of a cooperative for NFL clubs. Brand equity of Singapore football will be reviewed and developed.
"I have said before that Singapore football is worth $1 billion, and Tiong Bahru's $37 million revenue goes some way to prove my point," said Sasikumar.
"But, in its current state, it is hard to monetise Singapore football because it is now a bad word until there's more clarity.
"And that's the biggest challenge the new team will face. They will need to give it a good scrub and win back confidence of the public and investors."
Game Changers' slate of nine
1 BILL NG (president)
- Founder of private equity firm Financial Frontiers, chairman of Hougang United and Tiong Bahru FC
2 LAU KOK KENG (deputy president)
- Lawyer and former vice-chairman of Geylang International
3 KRISHNA RAMACHANDRA (vice-president)
- Lawyer and chairman of Tampines Rovers
4 ANNABEL PENNEFATHER (vice-president)
- Lawyer and vice-president of the Singapore National Olympic Council
5 DR TEOH CHIN SIM (vice-president)
- Director and senior consultant, Sports Medicine Centre (Khoo Teck Puat Hospital)
6 ZAKI MA'AROF (vice-president)
- President of NFL Div 2 club Kaki Bukit SC
7 HARMAN ALI (council member)
- Co-founder, Global Football Academy
8 CHRISTOPHER WONG (council member)
- Vice-chairman of Tampines Rovers
9 SAMAD ALLAPITCHAY (council member)
- Former Singapore international
INDIVIDUAL COUNCIL MEMBERS:
- Lai Boon Teck, Shahri Rahim, Jeffrey Sim and Adrian Quek