Singapore Football

Former Tigers' captain slams S.League

While waiting on his Permanent Resident (PR) application last year, Paul Cunningham announced his hope of playing for Singapore in the future.

The Kiwi is now a PR and, on Tuesday, the 27-year-old hopped on a flight to Switzerland to discuss terms with a club there.

Cunningham says a Swiss move will almost certainly end his hopes of playing for the Lions.

But he intends to remain a PR.

"If I get a club elsewhere, I will write in an appeal to say that I'm not leaving permanently - just for temporary employment."

Cunningham does not think he will play in the S.League again and he fears for the competition.

"It would take a lot of convincing and someone like (former Balestier coach) Darren Stewart to make me stay," he said.

"I don't think I could play here because, in five years under the coaches I've worked with, I've learnt more about what not to do than the other way around.

"It's sad because Singapore is my home, but I honestly don't think the S.League will last much longer."

Citing one example of poor coaching at Balestier, Cunningham said: "I went into the Toa Payoh Stadium office before training one day and saw a YouTube clip of passing drills for kids being streamed.

"Later at training, we were put through the exact same five-yard passing drill, for a whole hour.

"Some of the players were looking at each other wondering, 'what the hell are we doing?'."

While he acknowledges that many of the club chairmen have made personal sacrifices to keep their respective teams in the black, he had some harsh words for them as well.

"There are club chairmen who know nothing about football - they just think they do," he said.

"I've seen chairmen head down to pitchside to yell at a player, totally undermining the coach.

PUPPETS

"No self-respecting coach would stand for that, but that's the problem, most of the coaches are just puppets."

Cunningham also slammed the use of 10-month contracts for many local players.

"The players have no power whatsoever," he said.

"They can't talk to other clubs while they're under contract. At the same time, they don't know if they are getting an extension at the current club until the last minute.

"Those on a 10-month contract don't even have consistent yearly income and many of them have families.

"I really do feel sorry for a lot of the players in the S.League.

"If things continue this way, the league will die, I'm sure of it."