Team LKT manifesto: S.League critical to Singapore football
Lim Kia Tong unveils manifesto ahead of April 29 election, distances team from previous FAS leadership
There was no mud-slinging and barely a murmur about those who would stand against them at the April 29 Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election.
Last night at the Leng Kee Road showroom of Singapore's official Ferrari dealer, Ital Auto, Lim Kia Tong laid out the vision of his team, who are battling for the leadership of the local football governing body.
While the broad strokes of Team LKT's 10-point agenda for change unveiled yesterday covered most facets of the sport, from grassroots development to a transparent and accountable administration, it was clear that the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League would be a major focus, should they earn the mandate to lead the sport.
"When we take over, a lot of effort will be placed on the S.League: The strength of the S.League is the strength of the national team," said Lim, who will run for FAS president at the election.
He rubbished any talk of tuning down the 22-year-old competition, as the team set the Lions a target of regularly qualifying for the finals of the Asian Cup while also consistently winning the AFF Suzuki Cup and South-East Asia Games.
"(Turning the S.League) semi-professional is definitely not on the table... you can safely take it that that's the direction of the team. How we manage the league is another question: whether we commercialise it or manage it in another manner, but turning it semi-pro is far from our minds," added Lim.
The stuttering league has seen fan interest and sponsorship dollars dwindle in recent years, but instead of winding it down, Team LKT are looking to boost its numbers.
ON THE S.LEAGUE
"The S.League should be expanded to have a larger number of local teams. We started with eight, now we're down to six. We want to get to 10 local teams and together with two foreign teams, have a 12-team league."
- S Thavaneson, who will run as one of four vice-presidents
"We want to get to 10 local teams and together with two foreign teams, have a 12-team league," said Balestier Khalsa chairman S Thavaneson, who will run as one of four vice-presidents.
The league currently has nine teams, with only six local clubs featuring.
Thavaneson explained that there will be an incorporation of the amateur National Football League (NFL) clubs into a tiered system that could see promotion and relegation implemented.
"There are teams that are very serious in the NFL, and others not taking it too seriously... and that will be the distinction between the (already proposed) NFL Division 1 and Division 2," he revealed.
There will be serious commitment expected from the "serious" NFL clubs who will get help in improving their administrative capabilities.
"This contest at the election will be about people, but it will also be about ideas... and we all want to make real change, especially at the grassroots level," said Bernard Tan, who will run as Lim's deputy.
But it was clear that change under Team LKT will not start with a tearing down of old structures and plans.
"Football needs to change for the better: we need better results, better admin, better infrastructure and better personnel that can drive the game. But we cannot act like the new sheriffs in town and tear down everything," said Lim, the 64-year-old lawyer moving to distance his camp from the previous leadership at FAS despite the fact that several in his slate of nine men have served on various FAS leadership groups in the past.
"The previous FAS president (Zainudin) had his plan and also his leadership style. I will have a very different leadership style, I will work with my team in a consultative way: I will take advice and input, and we will make decisions jointly... but as president, the buck will stop with me," Lim insisted.
"From the manifesto and the subsequent way we will run the FAS, it will be very, very different."
Lim will face Bill Ng and his team named the Game Changers at the polls on April 29, vying for votes from the FAS' 44 affiliates.
Several in the fraternity have predicted a dirty battle at this election, but Lim is welcoming a contest.
He said: "Football has always been about competition and I'm personally looking forward to this competition with Bill's team."
10 key points of Team LKT's manifesto:
1. Create a transparent FAS that has a high standard of administration.
2. Create more facilities to achieve the vision of a football-playing nation.
3. Enlarge and enhance the pool of coaches, referees, administrators and volunteers through consultative bodies and mentorship.
4. Harness sports science and technology to boost development, fitness and performance of players.
5. Collaborate with private and public academies to increase participation and make football fun for kids to learn. Work with more schools to include the sport as a CCA.
6. Increase the number of Centres of Excellence from three to a league of at least 15. The National Football Academy will also be reviewed.
7. Double the participation of girls playing football and send a women's team to the SEA Games within five years.
8. Create a booking system for social teams to arrange matches with one another and look at setting up a social masters league.
9. Review the S-League and expand competitions at all levels to meet national objectives.
10. Establish high performance targets for the various national teams over the next five to 10 years.
- The Lions will be expected to regularly qualify for the third round of the World Cup qualifiers, the Asian Cup finals and to consistently win the AFF Championship.
- The Under-23s and cerebral palsy teams are expected to win the SEA Games and Asean Para Games, respectively. More support for the U-20s and to form an U-17 side capable of qualifying for the Fifa U-17 World Cup.
LIM KIA TONG'S ELECTORAL TEAM
1. LIM KIA TONG (lawyer, FAS provisional council president and Fifa disciplinary committee deputy chairman)
2. BERNARD TAN (chief marketing officer at ST Engineering)
3. TEO HOCK SENG (Komoco Motors' group managing director)
4. EDWIN TONG (lawyer and MP)
5. S THAVANESON (Balestier Khalsa chairman)
6. RAZALI SAAD (former national captain)
7. DINESH NAIR (FAS medical committee chairman)
8. FORREST LI (founder of online gaming portal Garena and 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year)
9. DARWIN JALIL (team manager of National Football League Division 1 club Eunos Crescent)
1. LIM TONG HAI (Former Lions skipper)
2. SHARDA PARVIN (Tanjong Pagar United women's player)
3. MICHAEL FOO (People's Association director)
4. RIZAL RASUDIN (chairman of NFL Division 2 club Admiralty CSC)
5. KELVIN TEO (CEO of Sembcorp Development)
6. YAKOB HASHIM (coach of NFL Division 1 club Yishun Sentek Mariners) - THE STRAITS TIMES