Lim wants to do more for grassroots football
FAS VP hints he could run for election as Tan clarifies spending on NFL
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) vice-president Lim Kia Tong gave the first hint that he could be running for office when the governing body eventually calls for an election of its leadership.
Speaking at a media roundtable at the association's Jalan Besar headquarters yesterday, he defined his stance on community and grassroots football - specifically the National Football League (NFL) and Island Wide League (IWL) - that have been described as a major battleground for votes of the 46 affiliates.
"Two years ago, I already saw something, and I nudged for a change of direction but, if there is a change of direction, and I'm quite confident that there will be - we will attach more weight, more value to grassroots football," said Lim.
"If you attach more value, then we can justify an increase in funding, we can even set up a department totally dedicated to running the NFL. It's all about the policy at the moment.
"Supposing I'm the team leader, I have already revealed that my mindset is to see more attention given to grassroots, and that will be the mindset of my team… that will be the signal."
Of the FAS' 46 affiliates, nine are S.League sides, including those that are sitting out, 10 NFL clubs, 14 from the IWL and 13 others, including five clubs participating in the Women's Premier League.
Led by spokesman R Vengadasalam, the former manager of the now-defunct S.League club Woodlands Wellington, only one team have openly declared their intention to run for office, and they have focused their attention on garnering support from clubs in the NFL and IWL.
The FAS has called for an Extraordinary General Meeting on Nov 7 to pass constitutional changes that will allow for the election of a new president and Council.
Lim explained that the "change of direction" will move away from a rigid focus on developing elite players for the national team, and instead look at broadening the base at the grassroots level.
"Last time when we moved the pen, we moved it towards elite football - we tried to get funding on the angle that we want to push (NFL) football for the national level," he said. "I do not believe that there is no cogent argument for broad-based football to get funding."
While clubs in the NFL have claimed that there is poor administration of the league - they have complained of games being called off because of double-booking of pitches and referee no-shows - the FAS asserted that processes have been fine-tuned, while the wheels are already in motion for other plans.
There have been no cases of double-booking of venues this year, with FAS staff adding layers of checks ahead of matches every week.
Ambulances have also been deployed at games starting in the last third of the previous season, after clubs raised concerns.
Lim asserts that more will be done.
"We're looking at getting a stadium dedicated solely to NFL and, if that's successful… we'll see the NFL played in a more professional environment. But this is all about policy, and it has to start with policy, and justifying funding," he said.
At the talk, FAS vice-president Bernard Tan clarified that the FAS has spent close to $250,000, if staff costs are included, on grassroots football instead of about $70,000 quoted in recent media reports.
"We don’t mind losing for the right reasons, if the (winning team) have competence, integrity, professionalism, and has the interest of football at heart. We believe that we can do something for Singapore football."— FAS vice-president Bernard Tan (above) on the upcoming election. ST FILE PHOTO
"We organise 161 matches (in NFL and IWL) in total. They're played largely in stadiums and referees are of a higher calibre, and there is also prize money that is completely footed ($31,000 by the FAS)," said Tan.
Pitch bookings cost more than $100 per game, and about $250 if the game is played under floodlights.
"If you think about the cost of the stadiums, the referees, cost of people running the competitions and all that kind of stuff, you can never meet $70,000. It's not possible. You can't run these leagues on $70,000.
"So I want to clarify that the numbers we are talking about are substantially more."