Former Lion Sasikumar set to run for FAS president
Former Lion finding talent to strengthen his bid for football's hot seat
It was with his shoulder that he scored one of the most important goals in Singapore's football history, and now R Sasikumar is planning to use his head to help lift the sport from the doldrums.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is poised for the first democratic election of its leaders in the months ahead.
While dates have yet to be announced, sources told The New Paper that former Singapore international Sasikumar is set to contest as president and he has cast his net beyond the football fraternity to find talent that would strengthen his bid for the hot seat.
On the field, the 41-year-old former defender is best remembered for scoring the solitary goal in the final of the1998 Asean Football Federation Championship against Vietnam which gave Singapore their first-ever triumph at an international tournament.
Few local footballers have made as smooth a transition from the pitch to the boardroom as Sasikumar has.
He is the managing director of sports marketing agency The Red Card Group.
Locally, Red Card has organised football tournaments like the Lion City Cup, and it also runs its own Internet radio and television channels.
Sasikumar has also been engaged by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as a consultant and is currently involved in launching the Philippines' professional football league.
While Sasikumar declined comment when contacted by TNP yesterday, sources revealed that he has already moved to meet some of the FAS' 46 affiliates who can vote at the upcoming election.
With his experience in the business of football, I think he will be able to help commercialise football, and we all know the S.League needs that.Alim Omar
Sasikumar would need to form a team of nine - president, deputy president, four vice-presidents and three council members - to run at the election, with six other council member positions up for election on an individual basis.
The FAS has been set a May 2017 deadline to conduct its election.
Siglap FC play in the National Football League (NFL), and their manager Alim Omar looked to Sasikumar's candidacy with much optimism.
"Local football needs people with a mind like Sasi. He is a former professional football player who played for the national team, so he has intimate knowledge of on-field issues. He is also a businessman and administrator who understands the other side of football," said Alim.
"With his experience in the business of football, I think he will be able to help commercialise football, and we all know the S.League needs that.
"We will have to study his manifesto when he releases it but, at this point, it is a good thing that Sasi is throwing his name into the hat. We have no qualms about throwing our weight behind him."
While various groups have been said to be working on forming a team to run at the FAS election, only one - a group managed by former Woodlands Wellington manager R Vengadasalam - has openly declared its intention.
"Since I made my intention clear that I will help put forward a team for the election, I've been waiting for someone of Sasi's stature to step forward," Venga told TNP yesterday.
"If he does show his intention to compete in this election, I will back him up."
Former Tampines Rovers chairman Teo Hock Seng said: "Good for Sasi if he wants to run, football needs people to step forward."